This English toffee, made with almonds and dark chocolate, is a classic old-fashioned Christmas candy and is surprisingly easy to make. A lovely gift. You can also swap in milk chocolate and peanuts to make the best possible American version.
This classic English toffee recipe nicely demonstrates that candymaking doesn’t need to be a chore. And it turns out inexpressibly better than anything store-bought. You just need to keep a few simple things to keep in mind to ensure spectacularness. First, invest in a thermometer if you don’t already have one and keep a careful watch on your candy as it can go from not quite ready to hopelessly gone in minutes..You’ll also want to ensure your baking sheet is large enough to spread your toffee thin to ensure it’ll turn shatteringly crisp rather than remain heartbreakingly chewy. And one thing you can’t really do much about, other than work around it, is the weather. Best not to attempt creating candy on an especially warm, muggy day, or you’ll be back to toffee that’s stubbornly chewy rather than mindbendingly crisp.–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
- Candy thermometer, offset spatula, Silpat
- 2 cups raw whole almonds (4 cups if coating both sides of the toffee with nuts)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 pounds 70-percent cacao chocolate (3 pounds if coating both sides)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a baking sheet with sides, such as a jelly-roll pan, with a silicone baking mat.
- Toast the almonds on a separate baking sheet until lightly browned and aromatic, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool. Roughly chop the almonds. If desired, dump them into a strainer and shake to remove any teensy pieces of almond skins for a more professional-looking final appearance.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and water over low to medium-low heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook, whisking, until the butter has melted and the mixture is emulsified. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly at a consistent speed, until the mixture reaches 300°F (149°C) on a candy thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Immediately and carefully pour the hot toffee onto the prepared baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, quickly spread the toffee into a thin, even layer over the entire baking sheet. (Don’t dally as you’re doing this.) Let the toffee cool for at least 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over but not touching a pot of simmering water and gently stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate has completely melted, looks smooth, and is no more than 110°F (43°C).
- If necessary, gently wipe or blot any excess oil from the top of the cooled toffee with a paper towel. Spread the top of the toffee with the warm chocolate and immediately sprinkle with the nuts. Let set at room temperature until hardened, 20 to 30 minutes.
- If desired, once the chocolate has set, invert the toffee, remove the baking mat, and smother the second side of the toffee with additional chocolate and nuts.
- Break the cooled toffee into pieces. The toffee is best when consumed that same day or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for no more than 3 days, so make haste in packaging and gifting it.
English Toffee VariationAmerican Toffee Substitute milk chocolate and lightly salted Spanish peanuts for the dark chocolate and roasted almonds.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a classic English toffee, just like the overpriced ones you get coerced into buying from kids’ school fundraisers (except this is way better!). As long as you have a proper thermometer, a heavy-bottomed pan, and a little confidence, this candy can be made successfully.
All the ingredients are placed in a pot and cooked until 300°F. This is something that needs a thermometer because the candy is surprisingly light colored at this point. However, it yields the perfect consistency for the toffee—not too crunchy or sticky. The recipe also calls for a Silpat onto which you pour the toffee. A silicone mat is an essential tool in candymaking and well worth the expense. Once the toffee was cooled, I coated it in chocolate and nuts. I found that coating it on just one side was enough, but not everyone agreed with my decision!
I loved the flavor of this English toffee recipe. What a great holiday gift it would make! The flavor of the almonds complemented the chocolate and sugar nicely. I did add a sprinkle of sea salt to the top of half my batch to give it a try both ways. I’m a lover of all things salty and sweet, so I preferred the salted version. Enjoy!
I followed the recipe exactly and the only difference I found was the time to bring the toffee to 300°F, as it took me only about 10 minutes.
WOW. What’s not to like about this English toffee recipe? Crunchy, buttery, salty, sweet—this one fires on all cylinders.
That said, at a few points during the process of making this, I was skeptical. When I poured this toffee on my Silpat and saw it set so thin, I was concerned. Given the volume of chocolate and chopped almonds called for in the recipe, I couldn’t see how the thin layer of toffee would support it all. In the end, though, the ratio of toffee to chocolate to nuts was spot-on for my taste. The thin toffee had more than enough structure to carry the other ingredients, and the textural and flavor balance among the three elements is outstanding. Be careful not to skip the step of blotting the top of the toffee with a paper towel before covering it with melted chocolate, as a fair amount of butter pools on it as it cools and the chocolate won’t adhere properly with it there.
I’m thinking of making MANY batches of this English toffee to be part of my holiday goodie bags this year. If I were you, I’d do the same.
I’ve loved English toffee since I was a Camp Fire Girl and was forced to sell Almond Roca as a fundraiser. I remember trying Almond Roca, since a good salesperson knows her product, and sure enough, I was hooked on the crunchiness and felt it was such a special treat since they were individually wrapped in gold paper. Yet despite my deep love for English toffee, the perceived specialness that comes with anything wrapped in gold paper was intimidating enough that I never tried to make it myself—until now. While this toffee isn’t wrapped up in gold paper, it is so much better than Almond Roca! The toffee is flavorful and has a light crispness to it, and when combined with the deep richness of the dark chocolate and the toasted crunchiness of the almonds, this recipe is a true hit. I prefer having just one side covered in chocolate since I like having an equal amount of toffee and chocolate in each bite. Plus, it’s faster and easier!
Some tips that I jotted down for myself since I know that I’ll be making this again.
-A candy thermometer, an offset spatula, and a Silpat are essential to this recipe.
-A quarter sheet pan is just the right size for this recipe. The toffee doesn’t get too thin or too thick with this size pan.
-I didn’t find the instructions to toast the almonds until lightly browned to be helpful since with the almond skin on, there really isn’t much of a color change. Instead, I used my nose and once it spelled like toasted almonds, I took out the almonds.
Chopping the almonds takes some time. I might try a quick spin in the food processor next time to make it go faster. There is inevitably some almond dust that results from all of that chopping, and I prefer to not include that on the toffee. If you prefer the larger pieces on the toffee and no dust, then I suggest using a sieve to filter the almond dust out.
Be fast when spreading out the toffee, as it hardens quickly, and it’s difficult to get the toffee to an even thickness if you wait too long (especially if you do this in a cold kitchen like I did!).
Originally published December 08, 2019