English Toffee

Candy making kind of scares me.

Thread stage, soft ball, hard crack. It just all sounds like it could go horribly wrong with little or no notice. And the thought of burnt sugar (or, perhaps, more importantly, trying to clean up burnt sugar) is enough to put me completely off the idea entirely.

But when I went home at Christmas (and yes, that’s how long I’ve procrastinated on this post. I have no idea why.), my mum and I thought this would be a good afternoon project. Considering about three feet of snow was surrounding the house and even the four-wheel-drive SUV was having a hard time making it up the narrow gravel road, staying in to do some baking and candymaking seemed like a grand plan. Not to mention the newly renovated kitchen was ideal for photos. Hello natural light!

We’re both big fans of English Toffee, even though I’m generally not a huge fan of almonds. My mum is more of a connoisseur than me, though; she can judge good toffee from bad. So, it was entertaining to think we could have a go at making our own.

English Toffee

It was great to cook with someone else. Since I have no tripod, my photos tend to be very static. Just too tricky to try to pour or stir and shoot at the same time. Not to mention that my cave-like kitchen is terrible when it comes to lighting. I actually take things out of my kitchen and shoot them by the window to get the best light. So, I took full advantage of having another pair of hands.

Also, frankly, I wasn’t going to attempt this recipe without having someone there who has some expertise.

But this has made me feel that I could attempt candy again in the future.

It’s essentially a waiting (and stirring) game. Keeping an eye on the temperature and watching as two basic ingredients transform themselves into something completely different. I liked the molten lava look of the toffee as it grew closer to being ready and then how it changed again when it was poured into the sheet pan, taking on an almost stained glass type look: coloured and glossy and flat.

Mostly, though, what I enjoyed was a chance to hang out, catch up and just spend time together. I only get back to Vancouver once or twice a year and I’m usually rushing around to see old friends and poke around some of my favourite stores.

The giant piles of snow that continued to fall almost the entire time I was there over the Christmas holidays were a blessing, in the end. There was no reason to rush off on errands or to visit. Instead, we had the perfect excuse to stay in and just spend time in the kitchen, bonding over a bubbling pot of sugar and butter.

Butter and almonds

Butter

Bubbling hot toffee

Pouring the toffee

Smooth Toffee

Adding the chocolate chips

Making the chocolate layer

Spreading the chocolate

Almonds

Finished Toffee

Breaking it up

Smashed up

English Toffee

  • 3 cups salted butter (1.5 pounds)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups roasted, unsalted almonds crushed

In a heavy bottom stock pot, start to melt the butter, adding the sugar after it has started to melt. Stir to emulsify the mixture, then add the candy thermometer, making sure there is enough of a gap between it and the bottom of the pot. (A wooden spoon should just be able to sweep underneath it.) Keep stirring the mixture. As it gets hotter, the mixture will thicken and start to darken. Keep cooking until the mixture reaches 294 degrees F. Caution, the temperature will climb quickly through the final 20 degrees.

Let the mixture cool slightly and then pour into a 13×18″ pan. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle on the chocolate chips. The heat of the toffee should be enough to melt the chocolate. It didn’t for us, so we threw it in the oven (warm from roasting the almonds) for a minute or two until it was spreadable and then used a spatula to get the chocolate covering the toffee.

Sprinkle on chopped nuts and press into chocolate.

After it has cooled to room temperature, put another pan of the same size over the toffee and invert. It should pop right out.

We used a meat mallet to break it into manageable pieces.

  19 comments for “English Toffee

  1. March 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I want to crawl into this bowl of English Toffee and eat my way out. Is that wrong?

  2. March 24, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Damn, that looks so good. And your photos are wonderful!

  3. March 24, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    That pic of Fraser Valley butter brought back memories of my childhood in Van. ;-)

  4. March 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    My favorite! Ive been looking for a good recipe for this! Thanks for sharing!

  5. March 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    That toffee looks so good!

  6. April 2, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Great photos and even better toffee! Until I started reading blogs and blogging I didn’t even know I liked the stuff!
    ~ingrid

  7. dinnerwithjulie
    April 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    O
    M
    G
    And I don’t use those letters lightly. This is my most favourite stuff ever. Worth risking expensive dental work for. Why don’t I ever have friends who make this stuff? Can we get to know each other better, maybe?

  8. April 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    OK, so how WAS the cleaning up part? Would you come make this at my house so I don’t have to clean it up?? And I know the butter makes it sinfully delicious…but can you use margarine? This is one of my favorite things – given to me at Xmas by a friend every year…now I can make it myself!! Thanks!

    • patentandthepantry
      April 6, 2009 at 9:15 pm

      The cleaning up part wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. The heavy-bottomed pot washed out easily. I can’t quite remember if we even let it soak or not….
      Unsure about using marg. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. After all, if you’re going to indulge, you should do it with butter, no?

  9. April 6, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Awesome toffee! Your photos are great!

  10. Ram
    December 6, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I once made a Toffee recipe where whenever I eat it, it was sticking to my teeth and very hard to chew. It was that bad that I ended up throwing it, what a waste of money! I’m definitely going to try your recipe and hopefully it is the crunchy toffee that I like. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  11. Lisa
    July 24, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Hello Pantry,

    Love this recipe on English Toffee……are you in England? I live in Florida, USA and am a huge fan of your blog – and recipes.

    I have a brittle recipe I have been working on for three months – and I know what you mean about cleaning up burnt sugar (I use super hot water to dissolve it and then a brillo pad to clean)

    Another great recipe of yours is the Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies.

    Take care.

  12. Jamie
    December 10, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    This worked out beautifully for me! thanks for a great recipe. I made half with walnuts and half without for those who don’t like nuts.

  13. All4food
    August 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Not sure where I went wrong? I followed the instructions and my end result came out too buttery. The toffee also had more of a brittle consistency not a melt in your mouth kind of crunch. I love the pictures they helped guide me through! Any advice is welcomed! Thanks :-)

    • patentandthepantry
      August 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      Hmmmmm. I wish I could help, All4food, but I’m stumped as to what went wrong. Candy making is so finicky that a few degrees too hot or too cool could be to blame. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Good luck!

  14. September 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Looks amazing! I don’t think people understand how scientific candy making is. Especially when you are dealing with sugar. One degree too cold and you’ve got soup, one degree too hot and you break your teeth. Thanks for the recipe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *