English Toffee

My Grandma B* has made this every Christmas for as long as I can remember; it's a family favorite!

2 c. sugar
1 lb. butter (get a "good" brand - not the cheap kind!)
6 oz. slivered blanched almonds
2 - 8 oz. Hersheys milk chocolate bars (or, 4 of the 4.4 oz size)
6-8 oz. regular (whole) almonds, ground

Melt butter in heavy pan over medium heat. Add sugar and turn on high. Stir fast, constantly, with a wooden spoon. When it's a cream color, add blanched almonds while continuing to stir (keep on heat). Continue to stir fast until butter and sugar work together and turns a light brown color (color of a paper bag). Pour into ungreased pan (9x13 or cookie sheet depending on how thick you like your toffee) and spread out evenly. Cool. Wipe off excess grease from surface, then frost with one 8 oz. melted chocolate bar. Sprinkle half the ground almonds and press into the chocolate. When set, turn over and repeat using the other chocolate bar & remaining nuts. Once set, break into pieces and enjoy!


  • The pan has to be HEAVY. My grandma uses an old pressure cooker pan. I use a heavy 4-qt Calphalon. I recommend using at least a 4-qt because it will splatter a little bit as it cooks, so with a bigger pan the splatters have further to travel! In fact, after about the 5th batch I made this year (I made 12 batches this year altogether!) I figured out that my hand/arm was spared the scalding splatters if I wore an oven mitt while stirring. My mom found an old pressure cooker like my grandma's on Ebay (just for this purpose) and she says it's a "magic pan" and that the toffee started turning out better from the first batch. I have had pretty good success with my Calphalon but I think I have to stir harder than if I had a magic pan...

  • Do not underestimate the amount of stirring involved. I have to give my arm a couple hours' rest between batches, at least! Every year I forget how labor-intensive this is until I do it.

  • Every batch turns out a little differently; at least for me. The brand of butter, the humidity, the intensity of stirring, the pan, etc. all affect the outcome. Sometimes the butter separates and you have a bunch of extra grease; that's okay -- just soak it up with paper towels and it will still taste good.

  • Most candy recipes you've made have probably given a temperature to cook it to. Sorry! I haven't ever figured out the magic temperature to cook this toffee to, so I stick with my Grandma's instruction to cook it until it's the color of a paper bag. An uncle of mine who also makes this says he can tell it's done when it "starts to smoke." I have noticed the smoke too, especially on batches that haven't separated; you can smell it if it does smoke... but as I said before, every batch turns out differently and it won't always smoke when it's done! If you start to notice dark brown swirls as you stir, it's starting to burn so take it off the heat right away!

  • I put mine in a 10x15 cookie sheet since I like that thickness. I leave about 1" of space on the ends. I grind my almonds in a mini food processor. 6 oz of whole almonds is about one cup.

  • You may be tempted to put it in the fridge or freezer to help the chocolate set faster, but I think it turns out better if you just be patient and wait all day or overnight for it to set at room temperature. For some reason, doing it "right" seems to result in the chocolate sticking to the toffee better in the end.


stephanie said...

i'm drooling.

Danika said...

Thanks for posting this. I will have to give it a try sometime. So who's the big winner??? Hope it's me.

EmilyCC said...

Oh, this is such a helpful write-up--I've always been too scared of the procedure to try.

And, 12 batches? You must have some serious muscles from all that stirring!

Kristina said...

It is very yummy! We liked it. Danika, if you haven't got toffee yet, just go carol to Sara's house. They will stuff bags of toffee in your pockets on the way out!

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