A little while ago, I posted a photo of English toffee I make and sometimes sell.
Some of you reported drooling and wanting to lick your computer screen. One blog pal, Yanic, did the more rational thing:
Yanic: Would you share your English Toffee recipe? It looks amazing.
Kerry: I’d be happy to share my toffee recipe but it’s really the same as every recipe you’d find on allrecipes.com–except instead of using chocolate chips, I temper real chocolate and put it on both side of the toffee. The only ingredients in the toffee itself are sugar, butter, water and vanilla. The only other thing you need is a reliable candy thermometer. Let me know if you want the specifics from the recipe I use.
Yanic: I would love your recipe… since I’ve never made any, even if it’s a classic, I’d rather have a recipe from someone I know. 🙂 Thank you!
So, Yanic (and all lovers of English toffee), this blog’s for you.
First, because I know you have children you love, Yanic, you absolutely must do one of two things if you’re going to make toffee. EITHER make it while they are out of the house or napping OR tell them firmly to put their bottoms in the kitchen chairs and not move until you tell them it’s safe, until the hot syrup is cooked and spread and cool.
I mean it, Yanic—scare them a little because nothing will burn them worse than 300 degree syrup that sticks to the skin.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, collect your many exotic ingredients. That would be sugar, butter, salt, water, and vanilla extract, and whatever you will use for chocolate coating. Candy coating or “melts” are easy but not really chocolate at all. Chocolate chips would be preferable, in my book. Or, if you know how to temper chocolate, use the real thing!
The most exotic necessity for making toffee is the candy thermometer! Be sure you have one!
Here is the recipe I use, which comes from the book that taught me all I know about candymaking, Chocolate and Confections at Home, by Peter P. Greweling.
8 oz. (1 cup) sugar
8 oz. (16 tablespoons; 2 sticks) butter, melted
2 oz. (1/4 cup) water
½ teaspoon salt
½ oz. (1 tablespoon) vanilla
12 oz. (1 ¼ cups) tempered dark chocolate OR dark compound coating, melted
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) chopped toasted pecans or almonds
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Combine the sugar, melted butter, water, salt, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, over medium high heat, and stir constantly with a heat-resistant silicone or rubber spatula.
- Place your candy thermometer and continue stirring until mixture reaches 300 degrees F. For me, on my stove, this takes about 18 minutes from start to readiness.
- Pour (carefully, Yanic!) onto the prepared pan and spread quickly to the edges of the pan with an offset knife—be very careful not to get the syrup on your hands! Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.
- If you are using chocolate chips: wait until the toffee has cooled just a bit and sprinkle the top liberally with the chips. Wait a moment or two and the chips will get melty. Use an offset knife to spread the melty-ness and then promptly sprinkle with the nuts you choose. You can really only coat one side of the toffee with the chocolate chips so you should keep it in a tightly sealed container—the uncoated side will be susceptible to humidity.
- If you are using candy melts or tempered chocolate, wait until the toffee is completely cooled. If there is oil on the surface of the cooled toffee, wipe it off with a dry paper towel. With your melted coating or tempered chocolate, cover one side and quickly sprinkle with nuts. Give it a few minutes to set, then flip the whole thing over, using a cutting board or another baking sheet. Coat the second side and sprinkle with nuts. Because this approach coats the toffee on both sides, it will probably hold up longer than toffee coated on one side only.
The toffee can be broken with your hands or with the point of a chef’s knife. All those little pieces that split off are super-good over ice cream or mixed into chocolate chip-style cookies!!
And there you have it! The recipe, with both sides chocolate-coated, makes almost two pounds of toffee. I stack pieces in cellophane bags and add a ribbon and . . . no one ever turns it down!
If you make it, let me know!