This recipe has been in the family for over 100 years. It has been tweaked through the years until it is the only English Toffee our family likes to eat. Every family has their holiday traditions and this is just one of ours and of course, it involved food.
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Christmas candies that are homemade make great food gifts for family and friends that will give you rave reviews on your easy English Toffee. Every single year, when I bring this into work, my co-workers are so happy. It seems they never make it home with their treasures and usually come asking for more.
Effortless English Toffee
This English toffee recipe is a no fail method. Believe me, this wasn’t always the case.
Family Heirloom Recipe
This recipe has been in the family for over 100 years. It has been tweaked through the years until it is the only English Toffee our family likes to eat. Years ago as a teenager, I was taught how to make the recipe from my grandmother. My mother never did learn how to make it.
However, my grandmother’s recipe was very finicky. If she didn’t so things just right, the recipe could separate or get grainy. So, she was very detailed in her approach to making this.
Since I have made this recipe for over 40 years, I have learned how to make this recipe turn out each and every time.
Grandmother’s Recipe Simplified!
The recipe is truly simplified. In fact, I would call it a no-fail method. Since I have tweaked it over the years, I have not had any issues at all! Now, this recipe may look intimidating. Especially if you have never made a candy before. it really is very easy to make. I hope you give it a try.
This toffee candy recipe does take a bit of time, but I bet that your English toffee will turn out just great too.
Variations to English Toffee
We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. You can change the type of chocolate you use, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or even milk chocolate drizzled with white chocolate.
You can change the type of nuts you use; I have used pecan, walnuts, and almond. I have also added cinnamon to the toffee while cooking. It all really depends upon your taste buds.
Through all of my trials and tribulations of tweaking my grandmother’s recipe, my family and I like the recipe that I have provided here for you the best out of all of the variations.
Candy Making Equipment
There are just three things that I must have before I will even start making this recipe. a large cookie sheet, candy thermometer, and wooden spoon.
I like to use a large cookie sheet as it helps the toffee spread out into a thin layer.
It is essential to have a good candy thermometer. The nice thing about a candy thermometer; it will show you exactly where the hard crack stage is. No guess work trying to remember during the recipe.
Because the ingredients continue to heat a bit when the burner is turned off, I generally turn off the burner once the temperature reaches 299 degrees. By the time that I get the kettle off the stove and poured onto the cookie sheet, it is 300 degrees.
My candy thermometer is almost 40 years old and my grandmother gave me the $10 to purchase it. Every time I make this Buttery Toffee, I think of her. Warms my heart and gives me great memories.
English Toffee Ingredients
This homemade English toffee uses simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now. I know mine is generally stocked with these ingredients.
Granulated Sugar. Make sure to use the this and not brown sugar. The white sugar will caramelize nicely in this recipe.
Grade A Butter. In other words, real butter. No margarine or lard. It has to be real butter. Just the normal kind that comes in quarters at the grocery store.
Light Corn Syrup. This is the magic that helps the whole thing stay together. I added this over twenty years ago. Without this ingredient, the mixture could get grainy and the toffee separates near the end of the cooking time. My grandmother’s recipe did not have this ingredient and making the batches of the Classic English Toffee did not always turn out. Once I added the corn syrup, it was like magic, it made a huge difference, as my holiday candy is perfect every time. So, if you want your recipe to be perfect, get the corn syrup. I am not sure why this works, but it does.
Vanilla. I like vanilla and almonds for a combination with this recipe. However, you could change things up and use other flavorings that you enjoy.
Water. Not really sure why, but my grandmother’s recipe called for just a few tablespoons. Therefore, I still add it.
Nuts. I like almonds. However, I have used pecans, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachio nuts. Use a mix of nuts if you prefer. I take the whole almonds and add them to a food processor to grind up fine. If you prefer a bit coarsely chopped almonds, then I would chop them with a knife to your desired size. The nuts are added to the buttery toffee after the mixture is off the heat and they are sprinkled on top of the melted chocolate.
Melting Chocolate. It is nice to have a chocolate that is made for melting. However, I have successfully made this many times using chocolate chips as my melted chocolate. Just melt in the microwave for the fastest method; heating up 1 minute at a time stirring between. Here is a bit more information on melting chocolate in the microwave.
Easy Homemade English Toffee Recipe Success
Use a large heavy saucepan. I just use my 6 Quart soup kettle.
It is best to use a wooden or bamboo spoon for this recipe because once you start stirring, you need to keep the spoon in the mixture. Once the mixture starts to boil, I stir constantly and frequently scrape the sides of the pan. If you keep taking the spoon out and placing it back in, the mixture will become grainy with sugar crystals.
Use a candy thermometer. The readings on the thermometer will help you know when you have reached hard crack for sure. This is important, because anything less will leave this toffee rather chewy and sticky. Someone will be sure to pull out a filling. Therefore, if you make sure that you cook this to hard crack, it is easy to eat. It only takes about 20 minutes of time to get to that stage.
Once the butter is melted, add the sugar, light corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Continue to cook and stir continuously for about 20 – 30 minutes. Cook until this reaches 300˚ F, the hard crack stage. While you can check to see if this has reached the hard crack stage by placing a little bit in a bowl of ice water, the thermometer lets you know exactly where your temperature is at. If you only cook this to the soft crack stage, it will be very chewy and not very pleasant to eat.
Make sure that the nuts are finely chopped. I like to use the pre-ground nuts if I can find them. Just saves time.
Add the ground nuts into the toffee mixture after it reaches the hard crack stage at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding nuts makes this much easier to eat and adds to the flavor of the toffee. It just seems to melt in your mouth.
Finishing the Christmas Candy Recipe
Use a large half sheet pan or a large cookie sheet or you may have a jelly roll pan. I do not prepare the pan ahead of time, when the buttery toffee has reached the hard crack stage and the nuts have been stirred in, the mixture will just pour out into the pan. Use an offset spatula or a tablespoon to spread the mixture into the pan. Using a larger sheet pan makes the toffee a bit thinner and is much easier to break apart and eat. No need to spray anything in the pan ahead of time. This toffee will not stick once it has cooled.
After the toffee is in the pan, spread it out. However, if you try and use the wooden spoon, you will now see that the mixture sticks to the spoon. Therefore, get two stainless steel spoons from your silverware drawer. Use one to spread the mixture until it starts to stick, then switch to the other spoon to finish the job. Easy.
While you can use a double boiler for melting the chocolate, I find it is just as easy to melt in the microwave in 1 minute increments stirring between. If you prefer to use a double boiler, you can make your own double boiler by placing a bowl over a saucepan with about 1 inch of water in the bottom simmering to do the cooking. This helps ensure that the chocolate will not burn.
Spread a thin layer of the chocolate on the toffee. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Let cool.
Christmas Candy with Chocolate on One Side or Both
If you decide to have only one side with the chocolate layer and nuts. Your recipe would be done at this point. Just break apart into pieces and enjoy.
However, I like to add chocolate to the other side too. Therefore, once cooled, place a half sheet pan on top of the pan of English toffee and flip it over. Then I spread another thin layer of chocolate and top with nuts, let cool. Break apart into small pieces.
What a treat it is!
I have to make many batches of this for family and friends near the holidays, it is one of our favorite holiday treats.
Be careful, if you make this, you might have just started a new family tradition.
Some years, I have made as many as a dozen batches of this delicious Christmas Candy. Each batch makes a whole cookie sheet or half sheet pan. That is a lot of toffee. Yet, each year, it is all gone and people continue asking for more.
Thank goodness this is an easy recipe; however, the first time you make this, you might think it is hard. Once you go through the steps and have a successful batch of toffee, you will be making this every year.
Easy Cleaning the Kettle Between Batches of this Homemade English Toffee
Clean-up hint: the candy mixture hardens, but if you fill it with water and let it set, the water dissolves the candy.
Effortless English Toffee
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 lb butter grade A or better (4 sticks)
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup almonds finely chopped or ground (you can use walnuts o pecans too)
Chocolate and Nut Topping
- 16 oz melting chocolate I prefer Ambrosia milk chocolate; you can also use milk chocolate chips
- 6 oz almonds chopped very fine or ground in a food processor
- Use a kettle that doesn’t set on easily and a wooden spoon. Add the butter and melt over medium-high heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add the sugar, light corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Continue to cook and stir continuously for about 20 – 30 minutes. Cook until this reaches 300˚ F.
- Hints: make sure to stir constantly, keep the wooden spoon in the mixture until done, and use a candy thermometer to tell when you reach the 300˚ F. This will help ensure that you do not have a grainy type texture in the toffee.
- Here is the mixture after just a few minutes of cooking. The ingredients are just starting to come together.
- This photo is of the mixture cooking about 10 minutes. Time to put the thermometer in the kettle. I make sure to keep stirring and don’t forget to stir around the thermometer too.
- When the toffee mixture reaches 300˚ F, (the color will be caramel colored) Remove from heat and pour in the 1 Cup of chopped-ground almonds and stir.
- Once the almonds are all stirred in, it is ready to pour into the baking sheet. (I like having the nuts in the toffee mixture as it makes it much easier to eat. Along with having this heated to 300 degrees F. the hard crack stage, the addition of the ground nuts makes it just melt in your mouth).
- Immediately pour into a 9 X 13” pan. I scrape out the kettle with the wooden spoon, then I get a stainless steel spoon to scrape the wooden spoon clean and spread the hot toffee in the 9 X 13” pan. It usually takes two…once the toffee begins sticking to one spoon, I use the other clean one and it is enough to get the toffee spread. (be careful, the mixture is very hot)
- Once the toffee is spread, spoon on ½ of the melted chocolate and spread over the entire 9 X 13” pan. Sprinkle with ½ of the chopped almonds.
- Put somewhere to cool. Once cool (you can touch the chocolate and the chocolate has hardened), put another clean 9 X 13” pan on top of the toffee and flip over. You might have to tap the pan a bit, but the toffee mixture should come out and be in the other container.
- This will allow you to spread the rest of the melted chocolate over the toffee and sprinkle the rest of the chopped almonds. Once this is complete, set somewhere to let the chocolate that you just put on set.
- Break apart and enjoy!
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I hope that you liked this recipe. If you are looking for more ideas on what to make, here are a few other recipes that you may enjoy.