Pop quiz. What delicious confection can be enjoyed either crunchy or chewy, with nuts or without, covered in chocolate or simply served plain. The answer: Toffee. A combination of equal volumes of heated butter and sugar, toffee is a bit harder than its like-colored cousin, caramel and according to Food Scientist, Harold McGee contains less butter and milk solids and is cooked 50°F hotter.
In celebration of National English Toffee Day, we’re taking a look at a recipe that’s guaranteed to deliver the best English Toffee you’ve ever had. One small caveat, while it’s unclear what makes “English” toffee different from your run-of-the-mill toffee, most experts will tell you it all has to do with butter, chocolate and nuts. And quite frankly, we’re ok with that!
Here’s how you do it:
Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Give it a quick spritz with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Get this step out of the way first so when your molten hot toffee is ready you’ll have somewhere to put it.
In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan combine butter, sugar and salt. A heavy bottomed pan will help keep your sugar from burning while cooking over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the butter is melted and incorporated. Bring the sugar/butter mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches 285°F (Soft Crack). It will be dark amber in color.
For more candy temps, visit our candy temperature chart, here.
A thermometer is of the utmost importance when cooking sugar. The DOT alarm thermometer is the perfect match when making toffee. Attach the probe to the side of your pot with a clip and monitor the sugar as it cooks. Set the alarm to sound when you’ve reached 285°F and you’ll know when it’s done.
Just like making toffee, the DOT is super easy. There are two buttons. One to set the temp up and another to set the temp down. Press the up arrow (if that’s the direction you need to go) until the digital display reads 285° and it’s set. It’s that simple. When the alarm sounds, press any button to silence the alarm, and move on to the next step.
At 285°F pour the toffee onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top and let it set for a minute or two to melt. To help the chocolate adhere to the toffee, gently blot the toffee “dry” with a kitchen towel (i.e. remove the shiny sheen) before you add the chocolate. Once it has melted, spread the chocolate out over the toffee into a thin layer. Sprinkle nuts over the chocolate and give them a gentle press into the toffee so they’ll stay put.
Let the toffee sit at room temperature for an hour and allow it to cool. If you place it in the fridge too soon you’ll risk heating up the internal temp of the fridge and putting all of your food at risk. After an hour, place the baking sheet in the fridge (make sure the fridge it set to 37°F) to chill until set.
When you’re ready, break the toffee into pieces and store in an airtight container. If you’ve done it right, your English Toffee will be firm, crunchy, buttery and delicious. At this point, all New Year’s resolutions aimed at shedding unwanted pounds will have to be revisited. Enjoy!
2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped almonds
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen