Toffee is a hard candy made mainly with sugar and butter. In America, the term "English toffee" is generally used for toffee prepared with a coating of chocolate and almonds. This recipe is easy to prepare and yields a full flavored, crunchy toffee that has just a little "stickiness" when chewed.
To create toffee, we will basically heat sugar and butter until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage (300°F / 150°C). If you don't allow the sugar to reach this temperature before cooling, the texture will be different. For example, if heated to the soft crack stage (the temperature range just below hard crack), the candy would be more like a butterscotch than a brittle, crunchy toffee. (In some parts of the world, this is also considered a toffee, but it's not what comes to mind when I hear the word.) If the sugar is heated beyond 320°F (160°C), then it might not retain its solid form and turn into liquid caramel over time.
Assemble the ingredients: 6 oz. (170 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup (200 g) sugar, about 1/2 cup (60 g) chopped almonds, 1 (5 mL) teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter. [IMG]
Select a small saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is large enough to contain about double the volume of the butter and sugar. As the mixture cooks, it will bubble and increase in volume - using too small of a pan may result in overflows.
Melt the butter in the saucepan with the sugar and salt plus a little (about 2 teaspoons, 10 mL) water. The extra water will make it easier for the sugar to heat evenly and melt together. [IMG]
Stir the mixture constantly while heating over medium-high heat. The butter and sugar will bubble and foam as the water boils off. This can take several minutes because butter contains a decent amount of water. The volume of the mixture will increase dramatically at this point. At this point the temperature should be relatively constant at a few degrees above the boiling point of water. [IMG]
Once the water has boiled off, the mixture will collapse and thicken. The temperature will also start to rise again. The goal is to remove the pan from the heat once the mixture passes 300°F (150°C) and before it reaches 320°F (160°C). Use an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature as you heat and stir because the temperature can change pretty rapidly once the water boils off. [IMG]
When the mixture reaches 300°F (150°C), remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture onto either a silicone baking mat or a large sheet of parchment paper set on top of a sheet pan. The silicone baking mat is probably easiest to work with since it won't slide around on the sheet pan. If you're using parchment paper, one way to keep it in place is to dab the underside of the four corners with a little bit of butter. That will help the paper stay put while the toffee is poured on.
Right after pouring, use a spatula (again silicone works best for working with toffee) to spread the toffee into a rough rectangular shape. [IMG]
While the toffee is still hot, sprinkle the surface with the chocolate chips. Wait until the bottoms of the chips start to turn shiny and dark brown as they melt from the heat of the toffee, about two minutes. Use your spatula to spread the chocolate. If the chocolate is still mostly solid, wait another minute before attempting to spread again. [IMG]
Spread the chocolate so that it covers the toffee. [IMG]
Sprinkle the chocolate surface with chopped almonds. If not using finely chopped almonds, such as the slivered almonds shown in the photos, visually inspect the the surface of the toffee to make sure the almonds are making good contact with the chocolate. Lightly press down on those pieces that are barely touching the surface of the chocolate. [IMG]
Let the toffee cool for about twenty minutes until the sheet pan returns to room temperature. Slip the pan into the refrigerator to cool down and set for at least thirty minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and peel the toffee from the baking mat or parchment paper. Working quickly so the chocolate doesn't melt too much, break the toffee into chunks of the desired size and place into an airtight container. During the breaking of the toffee, you'll lose quite a few almond pieces, but don't worry, this is normal. [IMG]
Because the chocolate isn't tempered, this English toffee should be stored in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate from melting if the room gets warm.
I haven't been able to find satisfactory toffee here for baking and eating, so making my own sounds like a wonderful solution. However, I don't have parchment or one of those silicone mats - is there something else I could use instead?
Mixing toffee into Rice Krispie Treats is also delicious. <3
I've made this kind of toffee in the past, and just used a buttered cookie sheet, with and without foil (butter the foil instead of the cookie sheet) and it worked fine. This was one of my favorite "discoveries" when I was learning to cook, knowing I could make it at home. But, we eat it too fast so we don't make it often - it's too good!
The other night I was making a butterscotch topping for some sticky buns, and while I was going for a softer candy stage than hard-crack (I was shooting for softball or thereabouts, but really I was eyeballing it for just the start of coloration) the recipe I had called for you to add the butter (one stick (1/2c) for a cup of sugar) as soon as you were ready to stop the sugar from getting hotter. The butter was cold and I had chopped it into 8 chunks, and it worked like a charm. It's a fair bet that this recipe started with the butter in because you migth not have time to fully mix the butter and sugar once the sugar starts to get really cool and firm.
So if you're going for a softer texture on your butterscotch, add the cold butter later-- it'll hang on to its water content and it'll stop the sugar's heat-up.
Yowza-- I burned my first batch-- evidently I've got the heat too high, and maybe I should get out a wider saucepan, as I'm using my smallest (which I thought would be okay because it has very high sides). Anyway, the heat was high (I've got an electric burner, not gas, alas) and the candy started taking on a very dark color well below 300F degrees.
I decided to carry it to the finish, because all it would cost me from that point was a teaspoon of imitation vanilla extract and a small portion of chocolate chips. The candy came out darker than the semi-sweet chocolate was, in color. It's still cooling, but I'm game to take a taste, at least. But it won't be going with me to tonight's party as initially planned.
I have a similar recipe for toffee that I make during the holidays. It used to make up beautifully, but the last few times I have attempted to make it I have had trouble with it breaking (separating) before it gets to 300 degrees. I have tried practically every brand of butter and make sure I use cane sugar. Does anyone know why this happens?
Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:57 am Post subject: English Toffee
Well I tried it :o) Everyone likes them. "Not too sweet" and "Nice as a gift" were some of the comments I got :o)
I didn't have parchment paper - actually I've never heard of parchment paper in the baking context.
I read somewhere that we could also use aluminium foil. So i used that and it turned out just fine.
Malaysians tend to like the ones that are more chewy though so i'll make a couple adjustments next time - First thing i gotta do is get a themometer! :o) Thanx for this recipe!
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1606 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:17 pm Post subject:
Why is it called english toffee?
I have lived in england all my life and i have never seen anything like that!
I don't know why toffee+chocolate+almonds is known as English toffee, but butter toffees were first created in England in the late 1800's. My guess is that an American family began to produce these candies and marketed them as English Toffees in the early 1900's. Soon, that's what they were known as: English Toffees. (English muffins have a similar origin story.)