Homemade Holiday Candy: English Toffee

It’s hard to go wrong when there’s butter, sugar and dark chocolate in the mix. This is the recipe for the English toffee I made as part of my homemade holiday gifts this Christmas. It’s a keeper!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt + a little extra for dashing in with the almonds
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

You will also need a candy thermometer and a silicone baking mat.


  1. Place the silicone baking mat into a cookie sheet pan (to catch any spillage if your toffee runs over).
  2. Toast the almond slivers with a dash or two of salt in a small frying pan; mix them around until they turn light brown, and then remove from heat.
  3. Put the butter, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and the 2 teaspoons of water into a big nonreactive pot (ceramic, enamel, or stainless steel). I use my Le Creuset stock pot.
  4. Insert a candy thermometer into the pot, so you can keep your eye on the temperature.
  5. Set the heat on LOW. Low is very important (as I found out the hard way in my first batch) because melting the butter and sugar together on too high a heat could result (for some mysterious chemistry-based reason) in the ingredients separating later. Since you want a beautiful caramel-ly toffee, not butterscotch swimming in a little lake of butter, be patient and go low.
  6. As the ingredients begin to melt, stir them. When they are fully melted, increase the heat to MEDIUM. Keep stirring! The water will boil off and the butter-sugar mixture will begin bubbling and frothing.
  7. The mixture will poof up like a soufflé until all the water has boiled off, and then it’ll sink and thicken. Start looking at the candy thermometer now as you continue to stir.
  8. The temperature should begin rising. Keep stirring and keep your eye on the thermometer. When it gets close to 300°F, get ready! (Seriously, the success of your toffee hinges on this next step.)
  9. Once the temperature PASSES 300°F, but BEFORE it hits 320°F, turn the heat off. (In candytalk, this is known as the “hard crack” stage. It happens around 310°F, and if you don’t get it right, you’ll jeopardize the consistency of your toffee.)
  10. Immediately add the vanilla extract, stir it in, and pour the toffee onto the baking mat right away.
  11. Spread the toffee out on the mat with a heat-proof spatula.
  12. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the toffee. When they start to melt, spread the chocolate around with your spatula.
  13. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top of the melted chocolate.
  14. Let the toffee cool, and then stick it in the fridge for about a half an hour.

    English Toffee

  15. Once the toffee has set, break it into chunks. Just be careful not to let the chocolate get too melty while you’re doing it.

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