Tuesday, December 15, 2009

English Toffee

Small batch of English toffee coming out of the Humble kitchen today. It was a perfect batch and enjoyed by everyone.

Though, some folks did moan about the prolific, tempting and somewhat 'less than healthy' stream of treats that has been coming out of my kitchen lately. I got a request for "Broccoli Toffee". Yeah, too bad I'm out of broccoli right now. I do have 2 boxes of tofu sitting in my fridge though, maybe I can 'toffee' it. That will show them.


This stuff is so light, crisp and buttery. Yum! Fudge I can handle myself around, but I admit to having overindulged on the scraps from my toffee cutting today. I cannot resist the delicate snap of freshly made toffee, nothing out of a can ever comes close.

Not so Humble's English Toffee:
yields roughly 50 pieces

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups finely chopped toasted almonds
10 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
vegetable oil (soybean or safflower)

Over low heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan. While waiting on your butter, rub a marble slab with a little vegetable oil. If you don't have a marble slab you can use something else that is at minimum 2 feet square, secure, flat, nonporous and heat resistant. Yes, ALL those things. Think safety here because you're going to be pouring your molten sugar out onto it later. Then grease a rolling pin and a pizza cutter with a little more vegetable oil.

When your butter has melted, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/4 cup of water. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or heat safe spatula. Attach your candy thermometer and continue stirring. After about 8-10 minutes your mixture should hit 260°F, then add 1/2 cup of the chopped toasted almonds. Continue stirring gently for another 8-10 minutes and bring the mixture to 305°F, then immediately pour the toffee onto your oiled slab. Being careful, because you're dealing with 300 degree molten sugar, roll the mixture out until thin. You're aiming for roughly 1/4 inch thick. Work quickly because you have to cut it before it hardens. Then using the pizza cutter, slice the toffee into squares or bars. After a few minutes the toffee will be cool enough to gather up and set aside. It will also be cool enough for nibbling... om nom.

Melt your chocolate (temper it too, ideally) and pour it into bowl and then dip the toffee, shaking off the excess. Place the toffee into a bowl with the remaining almonds and coat thoroughly. Place the finished toffee on a baking sheet to dry. Repeat with the rest of the toffee.

You don't have to chocolate coat all the toffee if you like it plain (it is good!). However if you do, store it in an air tight container as toffee absorbs moisture from the air and it will lose that light and crisp texture if left out.

There are additional tips for candy making in the comments section of this post, so check them out.

Just a general blog note:

I'm going to be turning comment moderation on at night now. The spammers have been running amok and it is annoying to wake up and then have to purge all the ads for 'discount' designer clothing, performance enhancing drugs and links to girly sites. Comments will be approved first thing in the morning.


  1. Oh. My. Gosh. My husband is going to be so happy!! :)

  2. Oh, these are looking so good!!!


  3. all cookies are so finger lickering good!!
    mmm.perhaps i can taste one of it..hahaha

  4. that's owesome! looks great!

  5. Would I be able to NOT cut the toffee, but rather just pour the melted chocolate over the large slab of toffee? Then sprinkle it with almonds? When cool, I could flip it and repeat the process. When ready to package, I could break it apart with a utensil, like "bark". I'm going for a rugged look but not at the expense of moisture collected toffee that is no longer crisp. Enjoying your blog.

  6. My mother made toffee when I was young, but I have never tried, now I am going to make some myself. Thanks,

  7. I stopped on your blog the other day because I got totally sucked in by all of the beautiful pictures!!! I took a moment to read over some of the recipes and even though they produce such amazing stuff, they don't look super hard. Can't wait to pick out a few and try them out for Christmas. : )

  8. Lovely presentation with the toffee all wrapped up in a pretty bow. I would be happy to be on the receiving end of that little gift. : )

  9. Wow, that's just awesome. I can't get enough English toffee, but I'm terrified of candy making...

  10. I cannot wait to try this out. Toffee is my favorite confection of all time, and this recipe looks perfect. Thank you!

  11. Catherine Kim,

    You can certainly do that. I considered cutting mine into large 8x8" squares and doing exactly that.

    Not cutting it at all might make the sheet a little unwieldy. It is a big piece of toffee.

  12. Tofu baking -- try Mark Bittman's Tofu Chocolate Pudding. It's not exactly healthy, but it's healthier than the alternatives. (And there are some more cocoa based ones out there -- The Engine 2 Diet has one -- that has less cocoa butter...)

    I also play around with tofu as a sub for cream -- maybe there are some ideas there.

    Keep up the good work, love you science inspired baking.

  13. I made five different kinds of holiday cookies yesterday, for family and friends, and declared the kitchen closed....I think I will need to reopen for this!

  14. This looks super yummy! Can't wait to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!!!

  15. Wow, seriously jealous mom who wishes she could do these kinds of things with food. I am a great cook but definitely not this creative with my cooking. Will be back when in need of inspiration. In my house I would be a hero if I could come up with the hostess cupcakes...now I am starving!

  16. Where does the salt come into play? I'd love to make this!

  17. Oooh! Thanks for catching that. It goes in at the beginning with the sugar, just fixed it.

  18. This looks great! I can't wait to try it out over the holiday break.

  19. Yay! I made this today and it tastes wonderful! I've only used my candy thermometer a smattering of times, so it was very exciting (and hot). You're not kidding when you say to move fast once you pour it out :) I do have a question for you: it seemed like the butter didn't incorporate all the way. When I poured it out the mixture wasn't totally smooth, and there was melted butter on my counter (I did it right on my granite). Have you ever had this happen? Any idea what I did wrong? I followed the recipe and instructions exactly with the exception of the butter--I only had salted. And I used a metal whisk to do the stirring. Thanks for a great recipe and for any help you can give! :) We are enjoying the yummyness! :)

  20. Tiffiny,

    What likely happened here is that the mixture cooked a little too quickly. Butter contains a large amount of water. This water needs time to evaporate during the cooking process, if the mixture it cooked too hot and too quickly, enough of the water will not evaporate and the toffee will separate once the sugars cool and harden.

    It should take roughly 10 minutes to get the sugars to 260 and another 10 minutes to hit 305 over medium heat. However, every stove is a little different so If you try this recipe again, I would recommend you reduce the temperature a little and give the mixture time to bubble away as it climbs up to 305.

    I'll add the time estimates to the directions to help folks moderate the rate at which their temperatures rise.

  21. Awesome...thanks for your help. I *will* try this again :)

  22. Oh and forgive the typos in my reply (yikes!). I'm scatterbrained enough as it is and unfortunately I make even less sense when my toddler is climbing all over me and my laptop as I type.

  23. Also, when you say the mixture wasn't smooth, do you mean it was gritty?

    Ah! That coupled with the toffee separating is another common problem in candy making. That is most probably caused by your sugars crystallization (the bane of home candy making). To prevent this you want to do the following:

    1. Make sure your initial mixture of melted butter, sugar and water are well dissolved before you bring it to a boil. This is one of the reasons you want to bring it to a boil slowly over medium heat (or even medium low if you wish).

    2. Use a nonstick pan if you have it and keep the sides of the pan wiped down with a damp pastry brush. I generally just whip a silicon spatula around the sides of the pan with this recipe and never have problems. However, if you're having crystallization issues you should utilize the old fashioned damp brush method. A single crystal of sugar will create a template for which the other sugars will crystalize around. It is a nasty chain reaction, you don't want undissolved sugar in your toffee.

    3. Use a wooden spoon or heat safe silicon spatula. You want to mix your toffee well making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom or sides, but mix gently. Vigorous stirring increases your chance of crystallization and too little can prevent things from properly dissolving and cause... you guessed it, crystallization.

    I've also heard things about not making candy on rainy or high humidity days, I don't know about that though... I live in Seattle and if that were true I'd never be able to make candy successfully.

    I've also been told by fellow candy makers that beet sugars do not work as well as pure cane sugars, but I've made this toffee with both without problems.

    Candy making is one of those things that can go perfectly and then a few specks of sugar and some pesky chemistry can take over and you've got a great chemistry lesson but not so great candy.

  24. I just made this toffee (literally just - it is still sitting out on the counter waiting to get dipped in chocolate) and it is really good, so I wanted to comment to thank you for sharing the recipe!

    Just one or two things, in case anyone else is reading this and could benefit from my first try - it took me a good deal longer than the 16-20 minutes the recipe specified to get the mixture up to 305 degrees. But it DID get there and it turned out perfectly, despite my concerns when it seemed like my thermometer had stopped at 225 and didn't mean to budge no matter what.

    Also, I sort of knew this would happen from making brittle in the past, but for anyone who might be doing this sort of thing for the first time - your temperature will drop significantly when you add the nuts, but it will come back up relatively quickly.

    And *definitely* second the "working quickly" part as far as rolling it out and cutting it goes - i actually just pressed mine out with a spatula as I somehow don't have a rolling pin, and that worked fine, but it started to solidify IMMEDIATELY when I poured it out (I poured it right onto the counter, which is granite) so don't get caught up in trying to make sure you scrape every bit out of the pan, or think you'll oil the pin when you need to use it, or anything like that that will keep you from getting right to work. (Of course if you actually don't cut it in time, you can always snap it, you'll just have irregular pieces.)

    Oh, also, you really only need a light coating of oil. I think after having done it, cooking spray would have done fine, probably because the recipe is half butter. :)

    Anyway, thanks again for this recipe, and hopefully my notes might help anyone who is considering making it.

  25. I finally blogged about my toffee-making adventure. Making candy is indeed an art, and I need more practice :) It was so much fun, though. Thanks for your inspiration!


  26. Great blog and beautiful sweets!

    Made this three times now. The first was perfect. The next two were a little chewy--not light and crisp. Did I cook the first batch a little hotter? Should I raise the temp to 310°F?

  27. You shouldn't be getting varied results. If your toffee is chewy, then it isn't getting hot enough, you are correct. However, rather than cooking it to a higher higher temperature (which you can do), I would first double check your thermometer and find out why the temperature reading isn't reflecting the correct doneness.

    Check out the recent apple cider caramel recipe for my advice regarding thermometers.


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