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
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.