Toffee is so dangerous for me to have around the house. No one should eat as much as I do when it's available.
But for special occasions, I'm more than happy to bust out the sugar and whip up a batch!
This nutty, chocolate-covered toffee is the quintessential holiday treat, perfect for nibbling at the end of a big meal or gifting to a friend.
Video: How to Make English Toffee
How to Make English Toffee
What Is English Toffee?
I make this classic English toffee with sugar, butter and touch of salt. A thin layer of chocolate over the toffee makes it even more of a treat, plus there are nuts in both the toffee itself and sprinkled over top.
Ideas for Swaps and Substitutions!
I use chopped toasted pecans in my toffee, but feel free to omit the nuts or substitute another nut in its place.
I also opt for dark chocolate chips because toffee is pretty sweet and the dark chocolate helps balance that sweetness. But feel free to use whatever chocolate you like to eat. White, milk or dark chocolate are all good!
Tips for Toffee Perfection
Making toffee isn’t very difficult, but it can feel scary if you don't do it very often. Here are a few tips to make it easier:
1. Get a decent candy thermometer:
Yes, you can go by the color of the caramel to gauge when it's ready, or you can drop a spoonful in a glass of water to see if it forms a ball. But why fuss with either option when a candy thermometer costs $8 and is such a better way to guarantee a successful, delicious batch of toffee?
If you've never used a candy thermometer before, this recipe is a good place to start. It's fairly forgiving and doesn't require many steps. Just heat the sugar, butter, and corn syrup to between 295F to 305F (hard crack stage), and you're done.
2. When it comes to toffee, corn syrup is your friend:
The corn syrup in this recipe helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing. This gives you one more layer of insurance when making this toffee.
3. Still nervous? Place a bowl of ice water near the stove:
This way, if you do accidentally spill some hot caramel on your hand, you can immediately plunge your hand into the water.
Please don't let any of this scare you away from making toffee. It's significantly easier than you might think, and the reward for your bravery will be all the English toffee you can eat!
How to Keep Toffee From Getting Grainy
Toffee gets grainy when a stray sugar crystal gets in the melted mixture as it cooks. There are a few tricks to prevent that from happening.
- Rub the inside of the pot with butter so sugar can't cling to it.
- Add the sugar in the center of the pot, so it does not touch the sides.
- Once the mixture comes to a simmer, stop stirring, put a lid on the pan, and let it simmer 2 minutes to dissolve any stray crystals.
- Use a wet pastry brush to brush away any sugar that splashed onto the sides of the pot.
How to Prevent the Layers From Separating
Hardened chocolate can separate from the toffee layer for a few reasons.
- Use chopped chocolate instead of chips, and the chocolate layer will be more likely to stick. Chocolate chips have a non-melting coating to help them keep their shape. But when they melt, the coating can prevent the chocolate from sticking to the toffee.
- Sometimes the chocolate melts at a temperature that makes it shrink when it hardens, pulling it away from the toffee layer. If your chocolate isn't melting or spreading easily on the hot toffee in the sheet pan, use a hair dryer to re-melt the chocolate until it's workable. Or pop the pan in a 300°F oven for a minute or so.
How to Adjust This Recipe for Altitude
This recipe was written for sea level. Cooks living at altitude will need to cook their toffee to a slightly lower temperature. Look up the temperature water boils at for your elevation, then subtract that from 212°F. The number you get is how many degrees you should subtract from the 295 to 305°F range given in the recipe.
How to Store & Freeze Toffee
The toffee will keep at least 2 weeks at cool room temperature, stored in an airtight container with layers separated by waxed paper. Add a silica gel packet if you can (the kind that comes in shoe boxes!), which absorbs moisture and helps keep the toffee from getting sticky. Or refrigerate the toffee up to 3 months.
Can you freeze toffee? Yes! Freeze it in an airtight container, with layers separated by waxed paper, up to 3 months (or longer—we always ate it by then!)
Love Toffee? Try These Other Candies!
- 1 cup (130g) pecans
- 1 1/2 cups (340g or 3 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (400g) white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 to 12 ounces chocolate, chopped (or about 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Toast the pecans:
Place the pecans in a medium skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Dry-toast the pecans (without oil), stirring frequently, until they start to brown and smell nutty. Remove from heat and let cool.
Line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil:
Roughly chop the cooled pecans. Sprinkle half of the chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan evenly. Set aside the remaining pecans for sprinkling over top.
Make the toffee layer:
Place the butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan; make sure the tip is submerged in the ingredients but doesn't touch the bottom of the pan.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted and the mixture has turned golden brown. The toffee is ready when it reaches 295F to 305F (hard crack stage) on the candy thermometer. Total cooking time should be 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the toffee to the pan:
Pour the toffee over the chopped pecans in the baking pan. Spread the toffee evenly over the bottom of the pan with a heatproof spatula and tap the pan a few times to force any air bubbles to pop.
Add the chocolate layer:
Let the toffee cool for 2 to 3 minutes, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips evenly over top. Wait another 3 minutes, until the chips look softened and partially melted from the residual heat of the toffee. Use an offset spatula or heatproof spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the toffee.
Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans over the chocolate:
Carefully press the pecans into the chocolate with the palms of your hands.
Let cool to room temperature (about an hour) then move it to the fridge to cool overnight.
Break up the toffee pieces:
Once cooled, pull the toffee up directly out of the pan with the aluminum foil and then peel the foil off. Coarsely chop or break the toffee into small pieces pieces.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.