There’s nothing quite like making homemade candy, and this crisp nutty English toffee is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten ~ make it for friends and family, but definitely squirrel away some for yourself!
Today, we’re diving into the sweet world of English toffee, that perfect combination of caramelized sugar, creamy butter, semi-sweet chocolate, and and a satisfying nutty crunch – this toffee is light and crisp ~ no jaw breaking going on here!
For me English toffee is strictly a holiday time affair. I love to eat it, serve it, and gift it during this magical time of year. I takes less than 30 minutes to cook up your own homemade toffee, and for those 30 minutes you’ll get a real sense of accomplishment plus a kick-ass holiday gift you can divide between multiple best buddies.
Table of contents
ingredients for English toffee
- unsalted butter
- use a good quality butter, I use Land O’Lakes.
- white sugar
- corn syrup
- just a touch of corn syrup helps prevent the sugar from crystalizing in the toffee.
- baking soda
- it produces carbon dioxide gas and the gas bubbles get trapped in the toffee, creating aeration. This aeration results in a slightly lighter and airier texture in the final toffee, making it less dense and brittle.
- heavy 3 qt saucepan
- candy thermometer
- baking sheet
- if you use nonstick foil you can skip the spray.
- baking spray
- you can also use butter
tips for making toffee
A great toffee is surprisingly easy to make, but it’s rather specific. I recommend reading through the directions ahead of time. Once you get the hang of it, you can churn out this fabulous homemade candy with very little effort.
Start with good quality butter. Don’t use the discount brand for making toffee.
Have everything ready before you start. Get your pan lined with foil. Measure out the chocolate chips and chop all the walnuts. Once you start cooking it will go fast, and you need to move quickly.
Use a good sturdy medium sized sauce pan. My 3 qt saucepan is 8 1/2″ in diameter and 4″ high.
Use a candy thermometer or other instant read food thermometer and make sure it’s accurate.
Cook on medium to medium high heat. Too high a heat can burn your toffee.
Make sure you cook your toffee to 300F, or the hardball stage.
English toffee faqs
Why is it called English toffee?
- The specific combination of butter, sugar, nuts, and chocolate that defines English toffee became popular in England during the 19th century. But the term “English toffee” is more about describing a particular style of toffee rather than its historical origin.
Can I make toffee without a thermometer?
- While a candy thermometer provides precise temperature control, you can make toffee without one. Use the cold water test: drop a small amount of the boiling toffee mixture into a bowl of cold water. If it forms hard, brittle threads, it’s likely at the hard-crack stage.
Why did my toffee come out sticky and chewy?
- That’s because you didn’t cook it long enough. It needs to boil until it reaches 300F on a thermometer to get to the ‘hard crack’ stage of candy making. If you don’t boil it ling enough it can be chewier and stick to your teeth.
Why did the butter separate out in my toffee?
- Cooking the toffee mixture at too high a temperature can cause the butter to separate. Be sure to boil your toffee on medium to medium high heat, it should take about 10 minutes or thereabouts to reach 300F. Some chefs swear by continuous stirring while the toffee is cooking, but I find occasional stirring works best.
Can I make toffee without walnuts?
- Yes, you can leave out the nuts (or substitute pecans or almonds.)
Can I make vegan toffee?
- Yes, you can make vegan toffee by using plant-based butter substitutes. Make sure your chocolate is vegan-friendly, made without dairy products.
Can I make this toffee thinner?
- Yes, instead of pouring it into a 9×9 pan you can use a foil lined baking sheet. Spread the toffee out gently, (you will not fill the whole pan.)
How should I store my English toffee?
- Store homemade toffee in an airtight container at room temperature, away from moisture. Layer the toffee pieces with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Toffee can last for several weeks.
Does toffee freeze well?
- Yes, you can freeze toffee for long-term storage. Place the toffee pieces in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then place them in the freezer. Toffee can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.
- heavy bottomed 3 qt saucepan
- a clip on candy thermometer
- 9×9 square baking pan
- Line a square 9×9 baking pan with foil, leaving the ends overlapping the edges so you can lift the toffee out when it has set for easier cutting. Spray with nonstick baking spray unless you have used nonstick foil.
- Put the butter, sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly at first while the mixture comes to a boil, then occasionally afterwards.
- Gently boil the mixture, stirring occasionally , until it darkens in color and reaches 300F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and 1 cup of the chopped walnuts. Pour the hot candy into the prepared pan, smoothing out with a spatula. Be very careful as this is very hot.
- Scatter the chocolate chips evenly across the surface of the toffee and let sit for a couple of minutes to let the chocolate melt. Spread the chocolate out evenly with an offset spatula. Then top with the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, pressing them in gently so they will stick to the chocolate.
- Let cool until set, either at room temperature, or in the refrigerator.
- Remove the foil and cut into pieces.
- Store the toffee in an airtight container with parchment paper to separate layers. Will keep for up to 2 -3 weeks. Toffee can be frozen for longer storage.
more homemade candy recipes
- Grandma Kathy’s Homemade Turtle Candy Recipe
- Peanut Butter Truffles
- Peppermint Mocha Bark
- Jewel Box Truffles
- Christmas Cracker Candy