how to make english toffee

December 9th, 2008

This is my little bit for holidays at home.

English toffee was the first christmas candy my mom made each year.  After we were done with all the Thanksgiving leftovers, she would make a huge batch and stick it all in the freezer. And I would spend the entire month of December sneaking pieces of it thinking no one would notice. I think probably half was gone by the time Christmas rolled around! So now I make english toffee every year for Christmas and though I still eat my fair share I try to give most of it away.  The recipe below makes a smallish batch–enough for a nice gift or your own personal use–but it is easily doubled or tripled.  Don’t be intimidated by the long (winded) directions, this toffee is easy and quick to make, I just wanted them to be extra clear.

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips or 2 small chocolate bars
1/2 cup chopped pecans

you will also need
candy thermometer
cookie sheet  (I used a small one, but the size doesn’t really matter)
a silpat if you have one, extra butter if you don’t


Before you jump right in, measure out all your ingredients so they are all ready to go. If you’ve never worked with boiling sugar before (or if you are prone to accidents) keep a small bowl of ice water next to the stove in case you burn yourself. Boiling sugar is super hot, so this isn’t one for the kids. If you have a silpat (and you really should get one–they are awesome) put in on your cookie sheet and you’re good to go. If not, butter your cookie sheet like crazy.

Now that everything is ready, put the sugar, butter, water and salt into your saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 236 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball) .  This will take a while and the chocolate chips are not there for you to snack on while you wait. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit.  It will stay around 200 degrees for longer than you think it should, but the temperature will shoot up quickly so don’t walk away. Make sure your candy thermometer is not resting on the bottom of the pan, but taking the temperature of the actual candy.

While you are waiting you can warm up the slivered almonds in the microwave. This will keep the candy’s temperature moving up instead of cooling down when you add them (but if you don’t have a microwave, you can skip it).

When the mixture is 236 degrees add the almonds. Stir constantly until it reaches 290 degrees (soft crack). The candy will turn a lovely amber shade and give off a nice, nutty smell. That when you know it’s done. I might have gone a tad too far with mine, but you’re not going to stop and take pictures while you cook.

Add the baking soda and stir.  Pour onto the prepared pan and spread it as best you can. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, wait a minute for them to melt and then spread them all over the top of the toffee. Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the chocolate and let cool.  You can speed up the cooling by popping the toffee in the freezer. When it’s completely cool break up into pieces and give away all that you don’t eat.

21 Responses to how to make english toffee

  1. Blue Castle says:

    Oh yum! I love English toffee! Thank you for posting this tutorial. It’s so much easier to make things when you have pictures to follow. :)

  2. Caitlin says:

    Mmm… This looks so good. I think I will give it a try!

  3. Mom says:

    Good job. Now I think I’ll go make some. (You won’t get to eat at it before Christmas!!)

  4. Leslie says:

    I love your blog. Can’t get over it. I will try this toffee recipe this weekend!

  5. Amy says:

    ooo – thanks for the recipe . I totally need to try this this year.

  6. Suzette says:

    Great recipe. I can’t wait to make some to give as gifts.
    The pictures are excelent.

  7. Lauren says:

    Oh my. I am not generally big on sweets but toffee is my one weakness! Looks divine!

  8. floribunda says:

    when I’ve tried making toffee before, it never gets crisp enough, but I guess I’m not cooking it long enough… my mom’s was always terrific! I’ll have to try this again. Thanks for the instructions about the chocolate chips, too!

  9. Ann says:

    Hey Meg, this sure brings back holiday memories. You weren’t the only one sneaking treats!!

  10. mara says:

    Saw you over at SMS — looks yummy. I wonder if I could make it with just almonds? I’ll have to give it a go.

  11. Jenny says:

    I seen your Holiday’s at home over at SMS. I love this idea. I usually make carmel around the holidays. This will give me some variety. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Joan Hales says:

    I loved your blog. Can you tell me why the chocolate layers falls off when I break the candy into pieces?

  13. Jaime says:

    I just attempted this and I’m not sure what I did wrong (not that I’m typing this, I think I added too much water.) DUH!
    I ended up with a watery mess. Also, I burnt the sugar mixture. I wonder if the excess water contributed to this too.
    I need to try this again because it looks divine!

  14. We tried this recipe last night and had a failure. The butter separated, which seems to be my fault by way of impatience.

    For those of you having trouble look here for answers:

  15. Sarah says:

    Ok–I’m making this as we speak and I’m freaking a little–this looks like a LOT of butter in proportion to the sugar. Is it really 2/3/ cup, or 2/3 of a stick?? Well…guess I’ll find out.

  16. Patty says:

    Thanks you so much for this recipe! I made it the other night and it’s sooooo good. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t used a candy thermometer since my high school home ec class — I’m not even sure why I have one — but your instructions were perfect and easy to understand. I know I will be making English toffee again but now I want to try making other candy. Maybe I’ll do peanut brittle next time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  17. Barb says:

    Thank you for this–I can’t wait to try it

  18. austin says:

    I have made this twice now. Perfect both times. Thanks so much for the amazing recipe.

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