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English Toffee

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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.

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 over gentle heat. (Low heat is important to prevent separation later. Just be patient and let it melt together.) The extra water will make it easier for the sugar to heat evenly and melt together.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spread the chocolate so that it covers the toffee.

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.

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.

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.

English toffee (makes about 1.5 lbs or 700 g)
1 cup (225 g) buttermelt on lowheat until 300°F (150°C) while stirringstir inpour onto sheet panmelt and spread chocolate on topsprinkle almonds on topcool in refrigerator and break apart
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 tsp. (10 mL) water
1/8 tsp. (0.8 g) salt
1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract
6 oz. (170 g) semisweet chocolate chips
about 1/2 cup (~170 g) chopped almonds

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Written by Michael Chu
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296 comments on English Toffee:(Post a comment)

On February 05, 2006 at 12:19 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I am amused that the google ads are showing stretch mark treatments. :)

On February 05, 2006 at 03:50 PM, Raistlinxw (guest) said...
Subject: Fridge
Does the moisture in the fridge make the toffee soft and chewy, or is it's time on the cold box too short for this to happen?

On February 05, 2006 at 10:09 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Fridge
Raistlinxw wrote:
Does the moisture in the fridge make the toffee soft and chewy, or is it's time on the cold box too short for this to happen?

I keep mine in an air tight container. Unfortunately, I don't have any toffee left to experiment with, but, next time I make a batch, I'll keep one out of the container and see what happens to it.

On February 06, 2006 at 03:53 PM, *morningstar said...
Oh my, this sounds heavenly.

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

On February 06, 2006 at 06:13 PM, Nathaniel said...
I'v done a bit of candy making and a marble slab is very nice but most people don't have them, but you can use a glass cutting board instead just put a little bit of butter on it first.


On February 07, 2006 at 11:56 PM, an anonymous reader said...
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!

On February 08, 2006 at 02:54 AM, LAN3 (guest) said...
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.

On February 08, 2006 at 06:38 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I like the fact that it's called English Toffee despite the fact teh only thing I've ever had in England which is similar is a Scandinavian Daime/D'aim bar :)

On February 09, 2006 at 05:41 PM, an anonymous reader said...
This looks really good. I love this stuff.

I ought to make a batch... but for the last few years I've been being it online for some family and friends for Christmas just so I can have some. If you haven't tried this, it's worth it. So good.

On February 11, 2006 at 08:36 PM, LAN3 (guest) said...
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.

On February 12, 2006 at 04:36 PM, an anonymous reader said...
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?


On February 12, 2006 at 11:57 PM, melodyc said...
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!

On February 13, 2006 at 10:12 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Why is it called english toffee?

I have lived in england all my life and i have never seen anything like that!

On February 13, 2006 at 02:17 PM, Michael Chu said...
Anonymous wrote:
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.)

On February 28, 2006 at 02:53 PM, Alexis said...
Subject: Shipping Toffee?
Ok so I want to make toffee for a friend of mine to be shipped probably using a 3 day service, do you think it would be disastrous when opened even if in an airtight container?

On March 01, 2006 at 04:59 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Shipping Toffee?
Alexis wrote:
Ok so I want to make toffee for a friend of mine to be shipped probably using a 3 day service, do you think it would be disastrous when opened even if in an airtight container?

No, I think it will be fine. Even if the chocolate melts a little during transit (perhaps if the package sat in the sun), if you friend lets it cool before eating, the chocolate won't get all over their hands. It might not arrive looking identical to how you prepared it, but it should taste about the same. :)

On March 26, 2006 at 08:44 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: excellent recipe for toffee
Just made this tonight with left over Valentine's Day chocolates (chopped up, instead of chocolate chips). . .it was fabulous!!!! Better than the recipe I lost years ago. Thank you!

On April 07, 2006 at 03:06 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Anonymous wrote:
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?


I found that reducing the heat throughout the process, and stirring regularly, will avoid the breaking problem. Even if it looks like it's breaking, it will usually come together fine as long as the heat is not too high.

On April 18, 2006 at 09:59 PM, Audrey (guest) said...
Subject: For Michael Chu who wants to know why its called English tof
For Michael Chu who says he lived in England all his life and doesnt know why its called English toffee by Americans - link to this:

On May 11, 2006 at 08:02 AM, Armando (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
Good morning everybody! For Mr. Chu, toffee is also an old colonial dessert in the former spanish empire South American colonies, mainly Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Peru (since late 1700s). For instance, it is called "dulce de leche" (literally, milk candy, in Argentina) or "manjar" (Chile) and is a very popular and frequent in both homes and restaurants. You can find "dulce de leche" in many presentations, including the ones developed in Cooking for engineers, and, more usual, as a more semi-liquid dessert, including "dulce de leche mousse" (superb!!). And it dont use butter, as main difference, only sugar, milk, vanilla and bicarbonate (a touch) if it will be stored by long. The steps are almost the same. And Michael Chu answered the "anonymous" question, only. He explained the meaning from his point of view; the question come from another participant, Audrey...

On May 18, 2006 at 01:32 AM, Toffee Lover (guest) said...
Subject: Great Recipe
I tried making toffee before but found it quite dificult and messy. We always like to send toffee from the Arizona Toffee Company.

On May 31, 2006 at 05:05 PM, Toffee Queen (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Variations
This is a wonderful website. I love seeing the science behind cooking explained!

I make probably twenty or thirty batches of toffee a year, for gifts and parties. Over the years I've discovered some variations that you might be interested in.

I usually use a 9x13 pan lined with aluminum foil-that way I can just wrap up the sheet of candy in the foil if I don't have time to break it up and package it once it's cool. No need to butter or otherwise prepare the foil.

I usually pour the candy over a layer of nuts (about half a cup) in addition to spinkling another half cup over the chocolate at the end. I usually use almonds and semi-sweet chocolate, but not always. Chopped peanuts are very good with milk chocolate. So are macadamias and coconut. White chocolate is good with pecans. If you toast the nuts in a dry saucepan right before you use them, they will have a lot more flavor.

I always melt the butter then add the water, sugar, and a tablespoon of corn syrup (it's supposed to help keep the sugar from recrystallizing, although that might just be a useless artifact of my starter recipe.) I use three tablespoons of water-or any other flavored nonalcoholic liquid. I've successfully used strong coffee, strong spiced tea, maraschino cherry juice, and orange juice. Alcohol based flavorings should, of course, go in right at the end.

Sometimes I add a 1 oz square of unsweetened chocolate at about 230 degrees. It's especially good with walnuts, and coffee toffee. Watch it carefully, though-it's more likely to burn.

One of my most popular flavors is coffee toffee. I use coffee instead of water, and I coarsely grind expresso beans, pouring the hot candy over half of them and sprinkling the rest over the chocolate.

I also make a cinnamon white chocolate variety. I use strong spice tea in the syrup, pour the candy over toasted almonds, sprinkle with chopped white chocolate (good-quality real white chocolate doesn't melt as readily as regular chocolate-I usually need to stick in a low oven for a few minutes to melt), and sprinkle with cinnamon. This one is very popular.

Orange juice in the syrup, and curls of orange zest sprinkled over the chocolate is good. Maraschino cherries (well drained and dried!) and their juice in the syrup was tasty, though sticky.

You can also make toffee with brown or tubinado sugar. It tastes wonderful, but watch it carefully-because of the impurities in those sugars that make them taste so good, the syrup burns very easily.

On June 15, 2006 at 09:42 PM, Frijoles (guest) said...
Subject: Tastes good, didn't look too good
Just tried the recipe. It actually turned out well enough to eat. However, it didn't ever seem to boil all the water off before it made it to 300 degrees. At 300, it looked like it was just starting, but of course by then I had to remove it from the heat. The result was a granulated mess that oozed butter.

After dumping on to some parchment paper in a cooking sheet, I dumped the excess butter off. It's still very heavy in butter, but tastey none-the-less. Most certainly isn't as smooth as the picture, though. Any idea if it would help to melt everything before adding the sugar, or perhaps cooking it more slowly? This took me about 15 minutes to heat to 300.

On June 17, 2006 at 03:46 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Tastes good, didn't look too good
Frijoles wrote:
Just tried the recipe. It actually turned out well enough to eat. However, it didn't ever seem to boil all the water off before it made it to 300 degrees. At 300, it looked like it was just starting, but of course by then I had to remove it from the heat. The result was a granulated mess that oozed butter.

If your butter isn't melting fast enough to be stirred into the mixture, then melt it first before you add the sugar. Everything should be combined before the sugar temperature starts to rise up - we need to boil off the water content in the butter as well. If the sugar, water, and butter are mixed, then the sugar's temperature will not rise significantly until most of the water has evaporated.

On July 01, 2006 at 10:42 PM, Stillian (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee shelf life
Great recipe! What is the shelf life (at room temp) for this toffee?

On July 02, 2006 at 03:35 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Toffee shelf life
Stillian wrote:
Great recipe! What is the shelf life (at room temp) for this toffee?

This toffee can easily last for two or more weeks at room temperature in a sealed container. Technically, it'll be perfectly safe to eat for a few months, but the texture may have altered by then.

On July 02, 2006 at 11:51 AM, stillian (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Toffee shelf life
Michael Chu wrote:
Stillian wrote:
Great recipe! What is the shelf life (at room temp) for this toffee?

This toffee can easily last for two or more weeks at room temperature in a sealed container. Technically, it'll be perfectly safe to eat for a few months, but the texture may have altered by then.

I have made similar toffee recipes in the past and it appears that while the chocolate and the almonds remain unchanged over time, the butter/sugar toffee layer begins to darken. What exactly is occuring when the toffee darkens?

On July 08, 2006 at 06:16 AM, farjane (guest) said...
i tried your recipe today. the end result was hard candy and oil. the mixture totally separated. but the candy part hardened and it tastes not too bad. is the toffee supposed to be hard? i wanted a softer toffee. it's just weird if it's hard and has the chocolate and almond. i followed your recipe to teh T and the stages looked the same except after it foams it contimues to foam and foam and then separate. :angry:

On August 06, 2006 at 09:10 PM, Michael Chu said...
farjane wrote:
i tried your recipe today. the end result was hard candy and oil. the mixture totally separated. but the candy part hardened and it tastes not too bad. is the toffee supposed to be hard? i wanted a softer toffee. it's just weird if it's hard and has the chocolate and almond. i followed your recipe to teh T and the stages looked the same except after it foams it contimues to foam and foam and then separate. :angry:

I made a few more batches of toffee varying the steps a bit until I achieved the result you described - hard candy in a large puddle of oil. I managed to get this result buy melting the butter first and then pouring in the sugar. The butter and sugar never really integrated even after the sugar had melted and seemed to be mixed in.

I now believe that carefully melting the butter and sugar (with a tad of water to help) together at the start is essential to making this recipe work easily. Make sure the two are melted together before bringing the heat up to boil the mixture.

On August 10, 2006 at 07:10 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Ah, so you're supposed to put in the sugar first? That explains it.

I tried your toffee recipe twice, and got the same result as farjane both times. Today I made some of your fudge, which worked out very well, and sprinkled some toffee pieces into it. I guess I'll have to wait and get a second taste opinion, though (I'm bringing it over to the house of my boyfriend's relatives).

On August 14, 2006 at 04:00 AM, carsondebbie (guest) said...
Subject: additional shelf life
okay. So, I have the recipe down pack. Now, how can I extend the shelf life? I know that over time the toffee becomes "fudgy" and have tried to dip the toffee pieces completely in chocolate and that seems to help. But, how do I extend it even longer? Thanks :unsure:

On August 27, 2006 at 11:58 PM, Hilary (guest) said...
Thanks again for another great recipe!

On September 25, 2006 at 06:11 PM, lekawa (guest) said...
AVOIDING SEPARATION OF BUTTER AND SUGAR. I made this recipe for the first time about 3 years ago with the intention of giving bags out as gifts to clients. My sister had made it tons of times with no problem. I made it over and over and over again always getting the same result....SEPARATION!....It was driving me crazy because I even went to my sisters house to have her watch me and tell me what I was doing wrong. The same thing happened! :angry: We were pretty much calling it "Toffee Karma" at this point but I refused to give up. After much searching and reading on the internet I found my answer. HUMIDITY! I had always had a pot of water on one of the other burners slowly simmering to add moisture to our dry winter air. The humidity, in such close proximity to the toffee making, was causing my toffee to crystalize. It just so happened that when I went to my sisters to make it, she was making a pot of soup for dinner while I was making the toffee, so of course....I got the same separation problem. You wouldn't believe how much butter and sugar I wasted before figuring this out. So....

Tip 1: [u:a9f338c1d3]Most important tip of all[/u:a9f338c1d3].....have a coolish [u:a9f338c1d3]DRY[/u:a9f338c1d3] environment in your kitchen.

Tip 2: It sometimes works to add about 1/8 cup of hot water (very slowly so you don't get splattered!) if you notice the mixture starting to separate. Or [u:a9f338c1d3]better yet[/u:a9f338c1d3], just brushing down the crystals forming on the side of the pan and the spoon handle with a pastry brush dipped in water. I felt that the more water added to remedy the situation, the more the final texture was altered (not in a good way) I know adding water sounds contradictory to the humidity explanation above....and that's why it took me so long to figure it out....but it does work. It doesn't cause more crystalization when applied in this way, it just melts the forming crystals and washes them back down into the toffee

Tip 3: I felt that heating the sugar and butter up to quickly (being impatient and setting the burner on high just to get it going) seemed to create a higher likelyhood of separation problems. So be really doesn't take too long.

Tip 4: Stirring too vigorously also seemed to contribute to separation problems. I [u:a9f338c1d3]do[/u:a9f338c1d3] stir quite regularly, and toward the end I stir constantly, but [u:a9f338c1d3]gently[/u:a9f338c1d3].

STORING TIP: Humidity matters here also. That's why recipes usually recommend an covered/air-tight container. I have had no problem storying mine in the frig [u:a9f338c1d3]BUT[/u:a9f338c1d3] it's very important if you're going to do this, to [u:a9f338c1d3]let it come back to room temperature before allowing it to come into contact with the air in the room[/u:a9f338c1d3]. Any moisture in the room will condense on the surfact of the toffee if it's cold (just like on a cold coke can) and affect the texture of your toffee (it gets sticky) Storing it in the frig, in itself, has never been a problem for me, and I almost think it's even safer in there as the refrigerator air is usually quite dry. However I always keep it covered till it's come to room temp.

I hope I've just saved someone from going through what I went through! This toffee is so absolutely fabulous it's totally worth making! And it's really easy actually.....believe it or not!

On October 07, 2006 at 06:30 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Chocolate comes off when breaking!!
Any idea why the chocolate sperates from the candy? Thanks for any tips.

On October 27, 2006 at 06:54 PM, Rui (guest) said...
Subject: Mars bar toffee
Hello, everyone!
I loved this recipe, but I need the recipe (or at least, a similar one) of that type of toffee they put in the Mars bar.
Thank you!

P.S.: I need it urgently! Please! :shock: :shock: 8| 8| :unsure:

On December 02, 2006 at 05:14 PM, hwollman53 (guest) said...
Subject: butter separates when cooking toffee
We have been having trouble with toffee. We have a candy thermometer and are watching the temperature and just before it reaches 300 the butter starts to separate out. One time it was after we took it off the heat and we added the vanilla and the butter separated out. What are we doing wrong? We did not have this trouble in previous years. No matter how much we stir the butter does not mix back together until the toffe is burned to near a crisp. Thanks.

On December 09, 2006 at 09:15 AM, Sarah (guest) said...
Subject: Any adjustments for altitude
I live above 6000 ft, do I need to do anything different at this altitude? My husband is very excited for me to try the recipe.

On December 16, 2006 at 03:50 AM, cookingisalchemy (guest) said...
Subject: separation
first round, this thing came out great. Second round, pool of grainy toffee covered in greese. grrrrrrrr. I'm trying again in the morning ( i ran out of butter ) there seem to be 2 trains of thought found in the forum i will try them both. start at a nice cool temperature to combine the butter and sugar, and stir gently. I'll repost my findings in the morning.

On December 16, 2006 at 03:13 PM, yahoogakitty (guest) said...
Subject: Yummy toffee-but too hard for braces!
I have enjoyed your toffee in the past but I have braces, so whenever I try to eat this I end up being scared of cracking something. Any ideas?


On December 16, 2006 at 11:11 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm surprised to see such a glaring technical oversight that no one has picked up yet in this recipe that is supposedly on a website devoted to an analytical discussion of cooking. Namely, the part where it says to stir constantly over medium high heat is incorrect. Stirring increases the chance for crystallization to occur thus leading to the separation that so many people have complained about. Also, it's better to heat it gradually over low to medium heat rather than medium high. The person who posted the suggestion of dipping a brush in water and rinsing the sides of the pot had the right idea. Less chance of crystallization occurring that way. All of this info can be found in Harold McGee's book, On Food and Cooking.

On December 17, 2006 at 06:34 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Altitude Adjustment
In response to Sara's post, yes, you should adjust. I live at 5000 and so I reduce the temps suggested in all recipes by 10 degrees. Click the link below for great info on cooking at altitude. Good luck.

My own thoughts on the recipe are that it works well and is very similar to all other recipes I have seen. As far as stirring goes, it shouldn't increase the chances of separation. I think the idea is to not allow the mixture to stick and burn. I use a double boiler and so I don't really take that risk. However, I still stir constantly and never have separation issues.

On December 17, 2006 at 09:10 PM, Jim (guest) said...
Subject: separation
I just finished my 3rd batch of this and it was the only one that did not "fully" separate before hitting the 300 degree mark. The first 2 batches are sitting in the bottom of the trash can. The oil from the butter was poured off the finished product. The remaining stuff was particularly granular. I suppose my desire to beat this recipe overshadows the cost of the wasted ingredients.

On the 3rd batch I decided to lower the heat. While it did not separate it is still too grainy. If Heath made its' bars this way no one would be excited by the prospect of eating them.

I was delighted to find the "Cooking for Engineers" site. I expected a culinary Mr. Wizard or an online Alton Brown.

As I read the questions and comments on this recipe that go back almost a year and recognize that no one has responded I wonder what the value is of having the 'engineer' here?

On December 18, 2006 at 04:28 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Separation / Recipe problems
Unfortunately, it sounds like a lot of people seem to have problems with separation. As I've said in a previous comment, I've only managed to separate my toffee once and that was after deliberately trying to do so. In that attempt, I melted the butter on high heat first, dumped in the sugar, mixed until blended and then when I poured it onto a sheet pan, it was oil and hard stuff. That's pretty much not following the recipe. I've gone through about 8 pounds of butter (thank goodness for Costco) during the last couple months making sure that my recipe is correct - and I stand by it as written. Do all the steps - butter+sugar+salt+water melted at low heat, bring it up to 300°-310°F while stirring, take it off the heat and mix in vanilla extract, pour and spread. I am at sea level, however, so that may be an issue for high altitude cooks.

So, if you can't get your toffee to stay together, please don't just say it doesn't work or separates - please let us know what elevation you are at, and what steps you followed - even if it's the same as the recipe, write down what you did. There's no other way for me to figure this out, and figure it out I do want to do. :)

On December 18, 2006 at 08:55 AM, Jim (guest) said...
Subject: taking some notes
Mike, you mention to stir constanly over medium-high heat. My stove has defined temp ranges of Warm, Low, Medium, Medium-High and High. Each of these temps have sub-graduations.

When I cooked 1st batch at the low-end of Med-High the mix separated at approximately 275 degrees. I was not sure what, if anything, I had done wrong so I made batch 2 the same way as batch one. Same result.

The last batch I made I cooked it in the upper range of Medium. The mix began to mildly separate at 300 degrees but I poured it out on a cookie sheet immediately. I have not thrown it out but I am not willing to give it as a gift yet, my ultimate goal. The consistency if granular. Is this what you get? If so, your recipe may not be what I am looking for. If not, I still need to tweak my procedures.

I don't know how to gauge the effectiveness of my stove's rheostat to deliver a specific level of heat. My minor test program suggests that I need to lower the heat even more to get a better result.

I did not time the cooking process. Have you? Elapsed time would at least allow unsuccessful cooks (that being me) one possible thing to look out for.

BTW I am at 558 elevation. Close enough to sea level but too far from the sea....

On December 18, 2006 at 05:17 PM, Jim (guest) said...
Subject: Success !!!!
I followed all directions just the way I did on previous ventures, with one exception, I cooked at a lower heat.

Butter, sugar, salt and water went in together over a low-medium burner. I stirred it rarely. When all was melted I increased heat to mid-medium stirring a little more frequently, but not constantly. When temp reached 200-210 I began to stir regularly. Pulled from heat at 300, added the vanilla, mixed thoroughly and poured onto a buttered cookie sheet. Texture of the batter looked fine. It is currently cooling.

On December 18, 2006 at 06:36 PM, Michael Chu said...
Yes, it is important to melt the ingredients on low heat before bringing it up to the target temperature. Perhaps this was not emphasized enough in the article (it just said melt over gentle heat), so I'll update the article to clarify this. Hopefully future toffee makers will be successful on their first try. Thanks Jim! Send us another update after it's cooled to let us know if it's what you were aiming for.

On December 18, 2006 at 08:51 PM, pswenso (guest) said...
Subject: toffee
I've been making toffee for years, and throw away about 1/4 to 1/3 of what I make cuz i don't get something right. This site is very useful, and I can't wait to try another batch after reading these tips. I wonder though, I usually try to double or even quadruple my batches to speed things along. I didn't see anything in the forum regarding larger batches. Is it okay to do that if I follow everything to a "t"?

On December 18, 2006 at 10:37 PM, brianj774 (guest) said...
Subject: Successful Batch
I recently discovered this site, specifically while looking for a good recipe for english toffee. I've made it several times over the years, but stopped doing it myself 5 years ago. This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, after a few too many batches of grainy/oily toffee.

Tonight I made my second batch according to this particular recipe. Last weeks batch came out perfectly, save that I didn't have any chocolate or nuts. I followed the directions to the letter. Tonight I deviated a little. I melted the butter and sugar together at low-medium heat, gradually increasing the temperature, once I felt the sugar crystals had dissolved. Then stirring only occasionally, I waited on medium-high heat for the temp to rise to 310F. Additionally, as an experiment, I swapped out 1/4 cup of the sugar for the same amount of dark brown sugar, because I wanted to generate a darker color.

The batch is cooling now, and it looks fantastic. I'll write back after I can taste it, to see if the brown sugar had any impact on the texture of the finished product.


On December 23, 2006 at 12:31 PM, CaWineGuy (guest) said...
Subject: Some slight modifications...
As stated above, it is critically important to heat the butter & sugar gradually. I did a batch starting at low and never raising the temperature above medium. It came out great, except at the very end the temperature reached 290 and I started detecting a slight burnt odor. Trusting my nose more than the thermometer, I pulled it off at that point - and it is perfect.

I double checked the thermometer, and it seems to be spot on (at least for the boiling temperature of water). So perhaps a few degrees cooler (not a lot, just a few) might make things better.

Incidentally, if you pull it off too soon, and it doesn't solidify, you *CAN* reheat it very slowly and when it has re-liquified bring it up to the correct temperature. Of course, it is much easier to just do it correctly the first time.

On December 24, 2006 at 03:02 PM, CathyMo (guest) said...
Subject: melt the sugar first
A few years ago, Sunset magazine had a good feature on candy making. One of their tips for making toffee and fudge is to make sure all the sugar is melted in the butter over a lower heat before you raise the temperature. They suggest one of the ways to make that easier is to use baker's sugar*, that extra-fine sugar you can buy in grocery stores. I've made the toffee with and without the baker's sugar, but always melting the sugar until there are no granules left, and my toffee has always come out perfect every time. It just melts faster with the baker's sugar.

(*Based on my cake baking experience, I buy only C&H pure cane sugar, because every cake baker I've heard from on the subject says the beet sugar doesn't perform the same. For example, my cake decorating instructor says every flower she's made with non-C&H sugar has shattered as it dried. C&H makes a baker's sugar that is easy to find in stores.)

On December 27, 2006 at 10:07 AM, Jen321 said...
Subject: What is the optimal humidity range?
When making toffee (or other candies), what is the optimal relative humidity range? I've heard that humidity will affect candy making and have been told by older relatives not to make candy on rainy days, etc. If you have links to articles describing what the weather/humidity should be, I would appreciate those.


On December 28, 2006 at 07:21 PM, Audrey (guest) said...
Subject: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :(
I was really excited about this recipe and quite hopeful everything would be fine...until the temp reached about 210degrees. As requested, here's the steps I took:

Humidity: 36%
Temperature: 76degrees

Electric stove: heated butter, water, salt, & sugar at level 2 (out of 10) - once completely melted, raised temp to level 4.5 (out of 10). Stirred constantly from that point forward. Mixture did not "double" as mentioned in recipe notes...possibly from too much stirring?? At about 210 degrees some of the butter separated from the more solid mixture. I continued stirring a bit longer hoping I could get it back together, but to no avail. I pulled the pan from the heat at about 220 or 230 degrees and poured onto waxed paper. But I was distracted by this "problem" and I forgot to add the vanilla! I tipped the cookie sheet so the butter would run to the edge and then drained it off. My nephews seem to think it's still edible (pure sugar? What do you think??!!) - I went ahead with the chocolate topping, but didn't waste the almonds.

Morton's Salt
Great Value Unsalted Butter (Wal-Mart Brand)
Whatever sugar was in the big canister in my sister's kitchen

From reading another's post, maybe I cooked it at too low a temperature after I got it melted?

On December 29, 2006 at 04:27 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :(
Audrey wrote:
I was really excited about this recipe and quite hopeful everything would be fine...until the temp reached about 210degrees. As requested, here's the steps I took:
... snip ...
From reading another's post, maybe I cooked it at too low a temperature after I got it melted?

I don't think it the temperature - I've successfully made this with the burners on low the whole time - just takes longer. This is going to be a shot in the dark - try adding more water. Let's say 1/4 cup water instead. I'm a little concerned that your butter didn't even foam up with the sugar before separating (the reason why you need a larger pot than you'd expect), so I think adding some water will help. Maybe all the water is boiling out before the sugar is reaching a high enough temperature - so we try adding a significant amount of water to the recipe. Hopefully, that will help. Let us know what happens.

On January 07, 2007 at 02:20 AM, chocolategourmand said...
Subject: Re: I'm sad, I couldn't make it work! :(
This has happened to my twice, once last year when using european butter and just last month with regular unsalted butter. Last month I made 4 double batches of toffee (it's a crowd pleaser). The first batch separated into oily mess as you described. I'm pretty confident the problem is with melting the butter too quickly, as Michael's instructions detail, or in my case unattended sans stirring. My next three batches were fine when I was more careful melting the butter. It was so tempting to just walk off with the butter on low and do other preparations.

If the butter melts quickly/unattended and you can see clear yellow mixed with the butterfat, I think you risk the nasty separation scenario you describe later on in heating. Once that happens it is a lost cause. I melt the butter first, very slowly, stirring frequently and once it is melted (but still opaque yellowish white) add the sugar and water and increase heat. Hope this helps.

On January 11, 2007 at 11:08 PM, xochi (guest) said...
Subject: tofee
What is the proper long term storage of english toffee and how long does it last under proper storage if you follow your recipe?

On January 12, 2007 at 12:42 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: tofee
xochi wrote:
What is the proper long term storage of english toffee and how long does it last under proper storage if you follow your recipe?

I've found that the toffee keeps pretty well in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The toffee gets less crispy after about a week or so due to absorption of moisture but should still be fine to eat for a couple more weeks.

On January 12, 2007 at 03:23 AM, scott123 said...
If this has already been discussed, my apologies, but sugar doesn't begin to brown until around 305 f., so the only thing browning in this recipe is the butter solids. This creates a fairly mild flavored very light colored toffee. I believe most commercial toffees, such as Heath, brown the sugar as well. Browning/caramelizing the sugar creates a far greater depth of flavor and a bold toffee taste/dark color. As you reach caramelizing sugar temps, though, the butter will burn, so... if you want a bolder flavored toffee, you'll need to brown the sugar, add water to bring the temp down, then add butter and take it back to the hard crack stage.

One other thing I noticed is the lack of a crystallization inhibitor. The butter helps a little bit to prevent the sugar from precipitating out/re-crystallizing, but if you want a better insurance policy, I'd add a little corn syrup. Corn syrup (or inverted sugar) is pretty standard as a crystallization inhibitor in hard candy.

And, lastly

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.

Once the water has boiled off, the mixture will collapse and thicken. The temperature will also start to rise again.

Sorry to be such a stickler, but the water never 'boils off.' The boiling temperature of the water rises as the dissolved solids become more concentrated. Even at 300 (hard crack stage), there's still a trace amount of water in the toffee.

On January 23, 2007 at 01:54 PM, toffeemaker (guest) said...
Subject: Learnings fr High Altitude for Make Benefit of Great Toffee!
Hi all--

I have made toffee as holiday gifts for more than 20 years, and as my list has grown, so has my toffee quantity. This year I made more than fifty pounds' worth.

In November of 2005 I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico (altitude 7000 ft.) I wondered (feared!) it would affect toffeemaking, and indeed it did. I did much experimenting last year and this year to fathom the hows and whys, and here is my tuppenceworth:

Whoever said upthread that humidity affects toffeemaking is dead on. It does. Our air here is very dry and that's helpful.

I learned to make toffee by first melting the butter at any heat that wouldn't burn it, then turning it to medium-low and stirring in the butter and cold water. My family recipe included a tablespoon and a half of water at sea level, for the quantities above (cup of water, cup of sugar.) Some years back I switched to double batches (2 cups of each,) which made the water quantity 3 tbsp.

After wasting a couple of pounds of butter and sugar last year, I altered the water content to a little over 2/3 of a cup. That gave me non-separating toffee 75% of the time, the other 25% of the time I had to add more water when it started separating, and re-cook the batch (sometimes twice!) However, I noticed no difference in texture or taste in those batches. So I thought I had the high altitude problem licked.

This year I stocked up on butter when the local co-op was having a sale on Plugra european-style butter. (Normally I go to Costco and buy the 4 1-lb. salted butter solids packs.)

I went through five pounds of butter and sugar before I finally twigged to why the toffee wouldn't toff: "European-style" butters are made by a different process than ordinary pasteurized American butter. It won't work. Period. Fermented butter won't toff, at least not in high altitudes. Back to plain ol' cheap butter.

High altitude requires much more attention to small details of when and how much to stir, where to set the heat at the different stages of toffeemaking, and judging done-ness. I make a carmelized-sugar version of toffee which is (I think) a bit more demanding than the lighter version discussed here, and that may have something to do with it. After 20 years I'm pretty good at judging by feel, smell, and look, which is a good thing because when I tried a candy thermometer last year I ended up with badly burnt toffee (again, I think because of the altitude.)


Melt butter
Turn to med-low/low heat, add sugar and water, stir slowly to blend
As it starts foaming, stir regularly and turn the heat up a notch
As the foam subsides to bubbly thick syrup, turn the heat up another notch (heat should now be about med/med-high)
Stir gently, occasionally, as the mixture starts to brown and no crystals are left
As the mixture reaches a light-brown color, begin constant, gentle stirring. It will still feel quite "thick" as you stir.
Steam will begin to puff as larger bubbles in the mixture pop, keep stirring
The mixture will reach a mid-brown, caramel color, and the steam will have a little smoke in it. The burn-ey, toffee-ey smell will become very noticeable. The mixture will feel less thick and more liquid.
Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and (if using) diced almonds
Turn it out into a nonstick baking sheet and spread
Sprinkle chocolate over top
When chocolate is melted, spread to cover
Sprinkle with powdered or fine-chopped almonds
Refrigerate for an hour or so
Give the baking sheet a slight twist to "pop" the toffee loose
Break into (approx.) 3-4 cm. irregular pieces
Store in a zipper plastic bag (squeeze out air before sealing) in the refrigerator

On January 23, 2007 at 08:02 PM, scott123 said...
Subject: Re: Learnings fr High Altitude for Make Benefit of Great Tof
toffeemaker wrote:
After wasting a couple of pounds of butter and sugar last year, I altered the water content to a little over 2/3 of a cup.

The amount of water you begin with is of little importance for this type of application. Starting with 1/4 cup will give you the same results as starting with 10 cups. The only difference is that the 10 cup version will take a lot longer to make, as it will take longer to reduce the level of moisture in the syrup to the amount necessary for hard candy.

toffeemaker wrote:
I make a carmelized-sugar version of toffee which is (I think) a bit more demanding than the lighter version discussed here, and that may have something to do with it.

Sugar only begins to caramelize at around 305, but to achieve good color, you need to go considerably higher than that. If you have butter/butter solids in the solution, they'll burn long before your sugar is caramelized. It sounds like you're happy with the recipe you've got, but if you want a nice deep dark colored toffee without burning the butter, I highly recommend a two stage processs- caramelizing the sugar, adding water to bring the temp down and then adding the butter and browning it.

On January 26, 2007 at 10:38 AM, an anonymous reader said...
silly question but I made toffe years ago. with a simular rexcipie to this but we used brown suger instead of cane, wiould this one work with brown as well?

On February 15, 2007 at 11:52 AM, Lintballoon said...
Subject: Maple syrup
Anyone try this using maple syrup in addition to the cane sugar? Or honey?
If they don't work, perhaps they should be added at the end, along with the vanilla.
Michael, since you have tackled oil, flour and food additives, perhaps a article on different sugars would interest the community.
Out of curiousity I recently bought some Barley sugar syrup from King Authur Flour, but don't know quite what to do with it.

On April 05, 2007 at 12:49 PM, RS (guest) said...
Subject: Soft in the middle...

I made this recipe for Christmas, and everyone raved about it.
For Easter, I decided to double the recipe and give some as a gift.

Everything looked fine during melting/heating process. It reached 150C without any problems.

However....after it set only the ends were hard and crunchy. The middle was much softer and almost like a toffee/butterscotch fudge. Any ideas on what went wrong?

I divided it between two parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Do you think it was still too thick in the middle?

Would a metal tray hold the heat too long and cause cooling problems? Should I have lined a glass tray or just lined the countertop?

Also, after I removed it from the heat and added the vanilla, it seemed to bubble a lot more than I remember. I had trouble mixing the vanilla in and I actually thought some of it might be burning because I was seeing brown streaks in the toffee. There were no brown streaks after it set, but could that have caused the problem?

Thanks in advance. I love the site. I also used your Biscotti recipe yesterday and they turned out great :-)

On April 06, 2007 at 03:07 PM, kab012345 said...
Nice recipe. It works great. B)

Also, don't forget to visit ToffeeKing Forums in my profile! ;)

On May 29, 2007 at 09:42 PM, Rich (guest) said...
Subject: Love this recipe!
I recently bought a digital thermometer and came across this site as an ideal excuse to test it out. I want to thank Michael for such a fun recipe, it worked out great. The consistency of the toffee is spot on with just the right amount of crack and brittleness, the flavor is a little on the light side as per previous comments but still delicious. I pulled the mixture off at 305 degrees and dropped a half a cup of toasted almonds in to make it taste slightly toastier, next time I think I'll try to toast raw almonds in the mixture from the start and pull it at 315 to try to boost the flavor quotient. I also added a tablespoon of corn syrup to the mixture to ward off crystalization, used low heat to melt the butter initially, and covered for 2 minutes once it started to boil to let steam condense and run down the sides of the pot to rinse off any stray crystals. After 2 minutes I pulled the cover, went to medium heat and started stirring. It worked perfectly, no crystalization issues whatsoever. Thanks again.

On June 26, 2007 at 07:06 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: 2 tips
Always include the salt, or just use salted butter- otherwise it will separate and the butter will drain away.
You also don't need parchment paper or anything. Just pour it into a clean sheet; when it;'s cool, it will pop right off the sheet.

On June 29, 2007 at 10:59 AM, an anonymous reader said...

I did this recipe, but added Birch sap syrup in the ratio of 1:1 with the other ingridents.

Did it live on web cam with quiet a few viewers watching me, and then a write up about my little adventure on a forum board.

Here's the link.

Regards From Gareth

Mead; If it's good for ancient Druids, runnin' nekkid through the woods, Drinkin' strange fermented fluids, it's good enough for me!

On July 24, 2007 at 04:36 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: making English Toffees more user-friendly
This treat is far better to serve for colleagues for your birthday, than the usual cake. Make a tin of them and leave them on your desk for everyone to pick from, and you will get all the positive attention you could wish, for the rest of the week!

After having made these excellent treats for several birthdays, I started to coat them with chocolate and roll them in chopped almonds after cutting them apart (using a pizza cutter). This way the chocolate stays on the toffee, and fingers are protected from chocolate by the almonds, when picking. Another advantage is that the chocolate tended to fall off when breaking the toffee apart. And so did the almonds.

On August 27, 2007 at 04:30 PM, Mike (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
First, thanks for running a great site. Just a couple of comments on the recipe. I make toffee the same way, but with a teaspoon full of vinegar in the mix. Don't ask me what the vinegar is for. It's just the way I was taught the recipe. Surpirisingly you don't taste it in the toffee, so I guess it must be in there to do something to the butter during the process. Maybe one of you chemistry guys can figure out what. Second, I don't have a themometer so I do the temperature by smell. As soon as the mix begins to smell like you're wondering of it might be burning its done. Don't wait until you nose tells you its burning for sure. By that stage its burnt. Another way to tell is that a drop of mix off a spoon into cold water solidifies and sinks if it's done. You don't need to test for degrees of solidity - the test is basically as between a ball of toffee or a slick of goo. Thanks again for the site. Mike in England.

On October 14, 2007 at 07:31 PM, Rachel G (guest) said...
Subject: will have to try this
I just recently tried a simular recipe with perfect results.... untill the 4th batch and now i cannot keep it together. But reading all the tips and coments i will try again.

I also have a dehumidifyer in the kitchen due to my candy making (living in MI it get's fairly humid this time of year). Should I keep it set a 35% humidity?

I made it great and gave it out only to have orders come back at the point when I couldn't make it anymore.

On October 19, 2007 at 01:45 PM, Reggie (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee question
I have a recipe that calls for cooking the toffee on the stove first, then pouring onto crackers and baking for 5 minutes. My question is if the toffee should still come up to the same temperature/consistency of regular toffee. I am thinking it might be less, due to the fact that we are then baking it.


On November 01, 2007 at 07:54 PM, Donna (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I've been making toffee for 15 years, and I've never had a problem with it separating... I use a heavy All-Clad sauce pan, and add all my ingredients at the beginning on low-medium heat (butter, sugar, water, corn syrup).

Over the course of the years, I've found that it takes me a good half hour to make a batch of toffee. It cannot be rushed, and I have a special wooden soon that I use to constantly stir and incorporate the ingredients. It looks very much like a regular wooden spoon, but the tip is flattened, so's I can get into the corner of the saucepan. I wet down the interior sides of the pan, so it cooks evenly.

Usually after it hits 270, there's a tiny window where it finishes up at 290-- it goes wicked fast, so I watch it like a hawk.

On November 02, 2007 at 08:50 AM, ld323 (guest) said...
Subject: toffee
I am trying to package toffee to sell. Does anyone know how to keep it from getting soft? What is the best way to package it? Right now, I am putting it in mason jars. Any suggestions to make it stay hard, and last a long time?

On November 03, 2007 at 11:51 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I am trying to get a jump on my holiday baking this year and made six batches of toffee this afternoon...some more successful than others...guess I should have read this website BEFORE making them! Trying to watch your favorite football team and make toffee at the same time may not be such a great idea....anyway, all six batches are now sealed in airtight FoodSaver bags in my refrigerator downstairs. I haven't broken them into pieces yet, they are still in large sheets. I am wondering if I made them too early, or if they will still be good next month when I really need them. Would it be better if I put them in the freezer? I guess I will find out when I pull them out and break them up.

On November 07, 2007 at 08:36 PM, columbinetoffee (guest) said...
Subject: Just saying HI!
I just came across this forum by accident. It's Great! I'm a professional toffee maker. I make between 7,000 to 10,000 pounds a year, since 1995. My company is Columbine Gourmet Almond Toffee.
As I get time I will visit the forum and help with any questions you may have about making toffee. As many of you have discovered, toffee making can be difficult.

On November 10, 2007 at 07:26 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I just made this recipe and had a similar problem to what I've seen described in previous comments.

Here is what I did:
1. I placed the sugar, salt, butter, and water in the pan and heated on low heat (1.5/10) until the butter was fully melted and the sugar partially dissolved (no visible pieces of butter but mixture too thick to be only liquid). This took about 7 minutes.
2. I raised the temperature slightly (to 2.5/10) and continued heating and stirring until the sugar had fully dissolved. This took about 5 more minutes.
3. I raised the temperature to medium heat (5/10) and continued stirring constantly. As the temperature increased toward 212F, the mixture became fluffier and more solid until it reached a marshmallow-like consistency. The volume did increase somewhat but not as far as double the original, and the mixture did not foam up.
4. As the temperature further increased, the mixture lost its marshmallow-like texture as it separated into ghee and sugar-whey clumps.
5. I poured off the ghee (butter oil) and dumped the sugar-whey(butter solids) clumps onto the baking sheet. Their consistency after cooling is similar to sugar cubes but somewhat harder to break apart.

And what I believe I did wrong:
# I did not clip the thermometer to the side of the pan but instead used an instant read (which generally takes 3 or 4 seconds per every 50 degrees, ie, it takes 18-24 seconds to show 300F).
# I stirred constantly from start to finish.
# I did not raise the temperature high enough.

I will try again tomorrow and report back.

On November 11, 2007 at 01:44 AM, Michael Chu said...

just out of curiosity, where are you located (approx. what altitude?). I'm a little surprised by your description of step 3. Around this point, the water you added as well as that in the butter should be boiling and the whole thing should be foaming up (not becoming more like a solid).

On November 11, 2007 at 10:13 AM, ld323 (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Just saying HI!
Did you read my post about making toffee to sell? Can you help me out?

columbinetoffee wrote:
I just came across this forum by accident. It's Great! I'm a professional toffee maker. I make between 7,000 to 10,000 pounds a year, since 1995. My company is Columbine Gourmet Almond Toffee.
As I get time I will visit the forum and help with any questions you may have about making toffee. As many of you have discovered, toffee making can be difficult.

On November 11, 2007 at 09:48 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I'm about 250ft above sea level.

I tried making the toffee again today. I looked at a few other recipes first and found that most recipes that included salt called for more than 1/8t, so I used a whole teaspoon of salt today. I also included more water for similar reasons (I used 2T water) and did not stir the ingredients while the butter was melting.

Ingredient changes: frozen butter (still 1 cup), more salt (1t total), more water (2T total), and corn syrup (1T).

Procedure with changes:
1. I added the frozen butter, sugar, salt, and water to the pan, turned the temperature to 2/10, and walked away. The butter took about 25 minutes to fully melt.
2. I increased the temperature to 4/10 and added the corn syrup. When the mixture reached boiling point, I placed a lid on the pot for about 5 minutes. The mixture foamed and doubled in volume, neither of which happened the day before.
3. I stirred constantly (but less vigorously than yesterday) as the temperature continued to rise.
4. When my thermometer read 305F, I took the darkened foam off the heat, mixed in the vanilla, and poured it onto an ungreased baking sheet.

After refrigerating my toffee, it has a very nice texture and fairly well falls apart in my mouth. However, I discovered that when it cools to room temperature it becomes slightly sticky and does not fall apart in my mouth the same way. I suspect that I cooked my butter-sugar foam slightly too long. The refrigerated end product is delicious!

Having made the recipe a second time, I think my two big mistakes yesterday were stirring too fast and not using enough salt. I think the air I whipped in caused yesterday's mix to reach that warm jelly / marshmallow-like state, which then separated into liquid oil and solid sugar with whey as I heated it further. Of course, when I noticed the separation I began stirring faster, which only furthered the reaction.

If I'd used the extra salt yesterday, it wouldn't have mattered so much that I stirred too vigorously, but if I'd stirred more gently I wouldn't have needed the extra salt... Anyhow, I won't include the corn syrup next time, but I'll probably keep the extra salt and water.

I enjoyed making this recipe.

On November 18, 2007 at 12:58 PM, LEW_O6 (guest) said...

On December 04, 2007 at 09:11 AM, Ladysketcher (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I tried to make this twice last night without success. It separated towards the end. I woke up early because I couldn't stop thinking about it and tried again. I only had beet sugar on-hand and noticed it stayed grainy even when I melted it a long time, so this morning I dissolved the sugar in 1/4 cup of hot water, then added it to my melted butter and right away I could tell it was smooth and syrupee. I held my breath and gently stirred as I slowly heated it up to 300. It turned out beautiful and delicious. Then I used the granular sugar-butter mess from my unsuccessful batch of toffee to make chocolate chip cookies. :)

On December 04, 2007 at 04:45 PM, Pat (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I find all of these comments very interesting! My recipe is totally different from these, passed down by my aunt and my mother. My recipe does not use butter, but Imperial Margarine. Also, no water, salt or vanilla. Just margarine, sugar, and almonds (in the toffee). Choc. chips on top and finely chopped walnuts.
It has been a few years since making this and my first batch last night failed. I think my pan was to big and I cooked it to fast. Just made my second batch and am a little unsure of it. Color is not what I had hoped for. Having made this many times in the past I am unsure what I am doing wrong, and unfortunately, I can't call my aunt or mother as they are no longer with me. All of that to be said, when it cooks right, it is absolutely fantastic. I grew up eating it as my kids have. I give it as gifts at Christmas. I can't imagine how incredible it would be if I used butter instead of margarine! Good luck to all of you!

On December 05, 2007 at 05:28 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Vinegar in toffee
My OLD candy book says the vinegar Mike mentioned is added to stop crystallization and separation of the butter and sugar

On December 07, 2007 at 09:54 PM, Buckler (guest) said...
Subject: Tried this, and it worked...sort of.
I tried this recipe this afternoon. I followed the recipe to a T, and all seemed to be going well until the sugar mixture hit just under 300 degrees, when I pulled it off heat. It was still foaming like mad, and I realized after I'd stirred in the vanilla that it had separated. I soldiered on and dumped the contents (a lump of molten sugar and a puddle of clarified butter) onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. I spread the chocolate and almond slivers, and let it cool. After cooling, I mopped up the liquid butter and stuck it in the fridge for the time specified. I broke it up using a pizza wheel (which, by the way, works marvelously), and refrigerated.

Even after the separation, the texture and flavor are perfect, although there is a bit of greasiness due to the butter. Obviously, something went wrong, yet it turned out pretty much as I would have liked. I'd like to try this again to see if I can get a better result. It may have something to do with my 5000-ft. altitude, but I'm not sure. The air here is bone-dry, and the only liquid to hit it after cooking was the vanilla. I'm open to suggestions.

On December 10, 2007 at 01:52 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I have the same question as another person from a year ago: why does the chocolate sometimes separate from the toffee when breaking into pieces? Thanks for any advice!

On December 11, 2007 at 11:13 PM, cici (guest) said...
Subject: sticky toffee question
I, too, have been making toffee for years but have never had the separation problem. I melt my butter on low heat, add sugar - water - and corn syrup and continue to cook on low to 300, stirring occasionally. I stir in crushed almonds and then pour onto a greased foil lined cookie sheet. After chilling in freezer I top with melted chocolate and sprinkle with almond dust. Re-freeze and then chocolate and dust other side. My only problem is that once in a while a batch ends up stickier than I like. Can any of you chemists out there explain?

On December 12, 2007 at 01:21 PM, S_Hewitt (guest) said...
Subject: engineering toffee
I have read most of this forum and the reason there seem to be so many conflicting experiences and opinions is that this is a complex process called condensation polymerization. Success will depend on your choice of saucepan (diameter, depth, heat transfer of material all affect boiloff rate and heating rate, which need to be balanced in the right "window"), heating rate, stirring rate, .... all of these things work together, so you need to try a few batches to find what is right for your conditions. For example, I use a heavy aluminum-clad deep pan and heat fast enough to keep the volume just manageable, which means I INcrease the heat as the process goes on, and it is quite successful. The opposite of some posters' experiences!

Browning is at least in part from browning of the butter-- you can taste that, in a typical toffee. For this reason, while it is important to stir correctly for the polymerization, you don't want to stir so much that the butter doesn't brown-- you can make a relatively flavorless toffee that way.

Corn syrup can be added to extend the glass transition temperature of the resulting polymer. Which means that it increases the probability that you will end up with a candy that has not "sugared," or turned grainy, when it cooled. Otherwise, cooling rate can be critical to the results as well and is hard to control. So syrup is a good idea. You usually don't need as much syrup as recipes call for-- a tablespoon is a LOT for this volume, more like half or 1/3 that would be plenty.

As a substitute fopr tempering the chocoloate you can either add a little paraffin or buy "melting chocolate" which usually then does not taste as good as the kind that gets all over your fingers. Your choice.

So, to the poster who wanted more engineering, hope you got your fix.

On December 12, 2007 at 04:46 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Years of toffeeing
After reading most posts I just wanted to include a few of the same comments from before. I have been making toffee since I was about 7 with my mother (I'm 42 now) I have NEVER had a batch that didn't turn out correctly. I do NOT refrigerate and never have. I have found that when left out of an open container it will get soft and in the container it will last a while longer, although most of my friends devour too quickly.

I have found two things help me when making toffee.
One) Cook on MEDIUM heat. I know it will take a long time to cook this way but it really does pay off. I was taught old school where we didn't have a candy thermometer and therefore had to do things by feel and sight. I will usually melt the butter first about half way then add the sugar. Stirring constantly is also a must, which keeps it from burning to the bottom of the pan.

Two) Take a measuring cup, or something large enough to put your fist into and fill it with COLD water. When you notice the mixture starting to brown to the color you like and is starting to separate in the pan, take a small amount on the spoon and drop it into the water. If it immediately turns into toffee (crisp and not gooey) and the water stays mostly clear, then turn off the heat and pour into your prepared (buttered) pan. Cover with the chocolate chips and nuts ifyou like. Let it cool at room temperature until firm. I have also used whole Hershey bars which I just lay on the surface and smooth later.

It should take no effort to break this into smaller pieces and then transfer to another container for storage.

So I may not be a scientist or chemical expert, but I have Grandmother's and Mother's experience and seem to do well with those items. Good luck and I hope someone finds this helpful.

On December 13, 2007 at 07:12 PM, chgo2cal (guest) said...
Subject: toffee
My toffee becomes sticky when out of the refrigerator. How can I rectify this?

On December 14, 2007 at 02:42 AM, Bethany (guest) said...
Subject: The biggest secret and best bet in making this work!
The quality of sugar is PARAMOUNT! Just like "Ladysketcher" said, it ALWAYS fails for me (separates) if I use beet sugar. I haven't tried the vinegar thing with the beet sugar to see if that would help, but when I use pure cane sugar, I don't need to do anything but stir and it turns out! I wonder if those who say it "always" turns out for them, ALWAYS use pure cane sugar. If I'm wrong tell me, but that's what I've found.

I've tried different temperatures, different thickness and kinds of pans, different stir rates or none at all, and even different spoons, you name it, I've tried (I was on a quest to find out the secret) and basically after many years of ongoing tests (I've wasted SO much butter and sugar), the only thing that really matters is the kind of sugar! Be careful though, because even "extra fine" candy making sugar can be made from beet sugar and it fails for that's the important secret I've found... [u:46d4df414d]PURE CANE SUGAR![/u:46d4df414d]

Also, an idea to get it to turn out without a thermometer. I never use them when making this. I've had faulty thermometers, so I don't trust them. Besides, I have found for this, I don't need it if I follow my grandmother's "secret." Our family has made it for at least four generations (who by the way came from England) and my grandmother who is over 90 says that the no fail way for her has always been to stir until it is the color of a paper bag. She always keeps one close by to compare, because the color can change sometimes very imperceptably, and a paper bag is sometimes a lighter brown than your mind's eye thinks. I also do the ice water drop test (see post above), just to make sure, but secretly, I think it's probably mainly so I can get a sneak preview taste! Yummy!

On December 16, 2007 at 04:30 AM, poppabear said...
Subject: Great Recipe
I have made about 6 batches and haven't had a separation problem. I melt the butter at low heat and add the sugar when the butter is about 1/2 melted. Once the butter is all melted, I raise the heat to medium and constantly stir the mixture. I use a Themopen to monitor the temperature. I once let the temperature get up to 320 and it started getting greasy.

Per suggestion, I just pour it on to a aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. I preheat the cookie sheet to 220. If I don't preheat, the toffee sets up too quickly and is uneven in thickness. I tip the sheet to spread out the toffee.

I modified the recipe and everyone likes it.

I added 3 oz of finely chopped dried tart cherries. The contrast in flavors is really good.

To make it more colorful, I added a cup of white chocolate morsels and used the toffee to melt them. Then I added the cherries. I waited for the white chocolate to set up. Then, I added another layer of milk chocolate (1 cup), but I had to melt it in a microwave. On top of this I used 1 cup of crushed macadamia baking nuts (Costco) and pressed it into the chocolate.

I find it easier just to use salted butter instead of the unsalted butter and adding salt. I can't tell any difference in the flavor.

On December 16, 2007 at 04:05 PM, Kimmie75 (guest) said...
Subject: toffee results
I didn't have good luck with this recipe. Everything was fine until the mixture boiled off the water. All of a sudden I had syrupy stuff & butter floating all around it. I think I knew at that point that the recipe was ruined, but I spread it & put the chocolate & almonds on it any. It looked like it will be crystalized. What did I do wrong? If toffee is this difficult to make, I think I'll come up with something else for my Christmas plates.

On December 16, 2007 at 07:15 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: outstanding!
I followed the recipe except 2 tsp corn syrup, store brand sugar, store brand butter. I went really slow until the butter melted and sugar mixed in at below 100F. I put my stove in the middle of the heat range and stirred real slow. Pulled it off 20 minutes later at 300F on cheap thermometer to stir in vanilla. Its going to be great because the little bit on the thermometer got cold pretty quick and set up hard and crunchy. I am a male, 25 year veteran machinist but a total beginner with candy making, even though I do all the cooking at our house candy is a new frontier for me. Patience in the beginning may be a key on breaking but all the senior women in the family told me to put the corn syrup in to make the sugar behave.

On December 19, 2007 at 06:34 PM, Evelyn (guest) said...
Subject: Great Recipe
We wanted to make toffee like Karen's Kandies Old English Toffee, and tried your recipe. We used salted butter instead of adding salt to the unsalted butter. It was quick and easy, and everything came out perfectly! Not only that, it looked just like KK's OET (we used crushed almonds instead of slivered--it looks better).

Thanks for this recipe!

On December 19, 2007 at 07:19 PM, MomZ (guest) said...
Subject: double chocolate
The recipe was simple to follow and came out great. I sprinkled crushed chocolate on the parchment paper before pouring out the toffee mixture. Then added more crushed chocolate on top with the nuts. Viola, double sided chocolate toffee. Once it was firm it was simple to cut into pieces. Try Sam's Club Ghirardelli chocolate for candy making - stays firm even out of the refrigerator.

On December 19, 2007 at 08:48 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: margarine and toffee
this may be a stuoid question but can this (or other toffee) recipes be made with margarine instead of butter to eliminate the dairy aspect?

On December 19, 2007 at 11:57 PM, mominator (guest) said...
Subject: Chocolate comes off when breaking
Hi. I've been having the same problem on & off with the chocolate shearing off when breaking up the candy. It's been very frustrating since I've made this candy for years and this has just started happening the past few years. It's impossible to give it as a gift if all the chocolate falls off!

At any rate, I think I've finally figured it out. I think that the chocolate falls off when breaking up the candy if you let it get too cool before breaking. Sometimes I put mine the fridge and don't break it up for several hours later or even the next day. If the candy is cool enough to break, but the chocolate is not rock hard, then it is a little flexible when you break up the candy and doesn't shear off. I'm now going back to breaking it up about 30 minutes after cooling down and I can see that the chocolate is still flexible.

Hope this helps. Also, I'm putting on the chocolate a little thinner than before.

On December 20, 2007 at 07:31 AM, andianjul (guest) said...
Subject: Englsh Toffee - what went wrong?
I tried this recipe. I use a candy thermometer and I have tested its accuracy. Yet every time I try to make candy, the mixture crystalises. It doesn't seem to matter if I barely bring the mixture to 300 deg. or if I hold it there for several minutes. Please help me, I want to gt this right. I also, want to stop my family complaining as they polish-off another failure.

On December 21, 2007 at 05:12 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: margarine and toffee
Anonymous wrote:
this may be a stuoid question but can this (or other toffee) recipes be made with margarine instead of butter to eliminate the dairy aspect?

Yes this recipe works with vegetable margarine... but the idea of it causes me to shudder.

On December 21, 2007 at 05:14 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Englsh Toffee - what went wrong?
andianjul wrote:
I tried this recipe. I use a candy thermometer and I have tested its accuracy. Yet every time I try to make candy, the mixture crystalises. It doesn't seem to matter if I barely bring the mixture to 300 deg. or if I hold it there for several minutes.

I think someone earlier mentioned that this might happen when using non-sugar cane sugar (beet sugar). I'd be curious to see if this is the culprit - if your bag of sugar doesn't say "can sugar" and just says "sugar" as it's ingredient then there's a good chance that it's beet sugar. Supermarket brands often switch between cane and beet sugar based on availability and so are not usually recommended for baking since results can vary with the same recipe and you can't predict/adjust for it.

On December 21, 2007 at 11:30 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Microwave version
Has anyone tried this in the microwave? My mother-in-law gave me the recipe years ago. I've only had a total failure once (when I melted the butter first). My recipe calls for a bit of corn syrup. Otherwise, it is the same as above. I use store-bought butter and sugar, so I don't think it's necessary to use baking sugar. The only problem I've had is that my toffee is often crystally, rather than chewy or crunchy. I've never used a thermometer, so will try that today and see if maybe I'm not getting it hot enough.

So, I soften the butter (do NOT melt), mix in the rest of the stuff, and set my microwave for about 500 watts (50 percent power for an 1100 watt), and cook the mix in a heavy glass bowl for as long as it takes- usually 15 to 20 minutes. I stir every 3 minutes, washing the spoon after every stir. When it's done, I mix in almonds, spread it on a cookie sheet, and top with chocolate chips and crushed almonds. Try white chocolate for a neat twist.

If anyone tries this, let me know how it turned out. I'd like to find out how to get mine chewy/crunchy every time.

On December 22, 2007 at 03:59 PM, momlet (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I got a similar recipe from my cousin and made 3 batches. My first batch separated...I just hung in there and kept stirring until I got to 300 degF. at around 270, the butter and sugar began to recombine. Once it reached 300 I took it off heat and kept stirring. Poured onto ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkled the chocolate chips, waited about 2 min before spreading the chocklate, sprinkled the remaining chopped almonds and voila...the best tasting toffee I've ever tasted. This recipe uses 1 lb regular salted butter, 2 c. sugar, 2 c. chopped almonds and about 1/2 c. chopped almonds and roughly 2 c. choc chips for the topping. One helpful hint. After I applied the chopped nuts to the chocolate, I scored the toffee into diamond shapes which made it easier to break apart later, minimized the "lost" nuts, and makes for more uniform shapes.

On December 24, 2007 at 06:53 PM, Rachel (guest) said...
Subject: Adding In Slivered Almonds?
Is it ok to add slivered almonds in with the sugar and butter? My favorite toffee is the kind with the nuts mixed in but I don't want to ruin the recipe!

On December 28, 2007 at 02:30 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Adding In Slivered Almonds?
Rachel wrote:
Is it ok to add slivered almonds in with the sugar and butter? My favorite toffee is the kind with the nuts mixed in but I don't want to ruin the recipe!

That should be fine, but I wouldn't add the almonds until you take the toffee off the heat, just before pouring.

On January 21, 2008 at 02:32 AM, Dania (guest) said...
Subject: I need help immediately
I love your recipe and I have judged by the comments of other users that this recipe works out great but i wnated to ask you that as i do not have a candy or instant read thermometer, what should i do to measure the temperature of the toffee and what is a possible sustitute for chocolate chips.Can I use fortified margarine than usingbutter. Please help me soon. Bye

On January 26, 2008 at 02:27 AM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: chocolate separation
On December 10, 2007 at 06:52 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I have the same question as another person from a year ago: why does the chocolate sometimes separate from the toffee when breaking into pieces? Thanks for any advice!

I have been making a variation of this recipe for years with much success and a few wipeouts. I believe the chocolate separation happens in two cases: the chocolate was not melted on top IMMEDIATLEY after the toffee was spread or the whole tray was put into the fridge/freezer too soon.

I usually leave it on the counter for at least an hour before refridgerating.

On January 27, 2008 at 02:37 PM, omnigrits said...
Subject: 'English' toffee?
I'm sure this confection is very tasty but it's nothing like the toffee I learned to make as an apprentice sugar boiler far too many years ago in Lancashire and in London. That wonderful taste (and colour) of true British toffee comes not from caramelised sugar but from the controlled burning of the sugars in condensed milk, which is an essential ingredient along with some kind of fat other than butter. It used to be mostly hydrogenated palm kernel oil in the industry, but ordinary vegetable fat/shortening works fine at home. I guess you'll be wanting a recipe, won't you. You'll need a kitchen scale for this one.

24oz sugar
24oz glucose/corn syrup
24oz condensed milk
10oz hard vegetable fat
2oz unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
Vanilla essence

Put the sugar in a large pan - far larger than you think you're going to need, like a stock pot of a least 5qt - with a little water and bring to the boil. Add the glucose syrup when the sugar has dissolved and boil hard to about 290F. Meanwhile, melt the fat in another saucepan and add the salt and condensed milk. When the sugar has reached the desired temperature, which can be varied according to whether you prefer soft, chewy toffee (lower temperature) or hard, sucking toffee (higher temperature), take it off the heat and pour in the fat and condensed milk. IT WILL FROTH AND SPIT!!! Return it to high heat and stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon. Wearing an oven mitt is a good idea at this point as the toffee will spit gobs of hot sugar as it boils. Don't stop stirring for a moment, unless you like burnt toffee, and be sure to get into the corners of the pan. A saucier would be perfect for this recipe, if you have one big enough.

After a while you'll see brown flecks appear in the mixture - this is the milk sugars starting to burn. The mixture will gradually become more and more brown. Once it reaches a medium to dark brown colour remove it from the heat, add the butter and a few drops of vanilla and return to the heat for a few moments, stirring until the butter is incorporated. Pour into a greased quarter sheet pan and allow to cool, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container, if it lasts that long.

On February 02, 2008 at 07:53 AM, gd (guest) said...
Subject: italian version of English Toffee
I love the site/discussion! I've been making "almond roca" for years (a recipe from my grandmother).

2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 lb of regular butter (not unsalted butter)
1 c chopped almonds (mixed in)
melted dark chocolate and chopped pecans (topping for both sides)
marble slab for cooling
decent candy thermometer
calphalon saucepan
gas stove

While living in the SF Bay Area, I would easily make 15-20 batches a year with 100% success. I would start with the sugar/water, let dissolve, then added the butter, 1/8 of a stick at a time. Usually once the butter was melted and frothing/foaming, I would stir in the chopped almonds and then stir continuously until it hit 300 (or the color of peanut butter). I never did anything to address separation, crystallization etc...becuase I never experienced it.

In 2005, I moved to Seattle and my success rate dropped to 10%. Besides my location (humidity?), I also now use a Al-Clad saucepan pan, and went through a brief stint with an electric stove (now using gas again). Separation has been my biggest problem, but I have also experienced burning before reaching 300 (perhaps a faulty thermometer).

For the first time in 20 years, I used a squirt (1 tbsp?) of Karo light corn syrup (added after all the butter was melted) and I think I may have solved my problem. The first batch with Karo, I tried not to stir too much (recommended in other post), however, as I like to add my almonds to the mixture while cooking, this just caused the almonds to burn, though the toffee looks good. For my 2nd batch, I added the almonds at the end (at 300). They clumped together which caused some angst when I poured it onto the marble, but other than that, i think I have my first successful batch (right color, right consistency) since moving to the pacific nw.

Observation: there have been many other people experiencing "recent" problems with their toffee, in that, like me, they made it successfully for years, and then recently started having problems. Up till now, I thought it was my change in location that was causing my problems. Could there be other issues? Changes to manufacturing of the ingredients; butter, sugar? changes to water (minerals, additives?)

On February 19, 2008 at 11:13 PM, kad (guest) said...
Subject: toffee
Omnigrits, wwhat do you mean by hard fat?

On March 02, 2008 at 05:19 PM, garvey200 (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I am 17 years old and with my mother, we have started making toffee to sell at the local airport kioskis. It was going well until we started seeing BLOOM (the white, fat kind of BLOOM) on our Toffee. What do we do? We have been told that the Bloom comes because we didn't TEMPER the chocolate, but if we TEMPER the chocolate, it peals off the toffee. We have an order for 300 packets of Toffee, but we need HELP!!!

Caroline Garvey

On March 06, 2008 at 06:06 PM, Jane W. (guest) said...
Subject: recipes for English toffee
I would like very much to learn how to make English toffee to sell at our annual church bazaar in November. I recently bought a half pound of toffee covered with chocolate and nuts and it was the most delicious candy I've ever eaten--in fact I ate the whole thing! I have read the comments on this site and now I am thoroughly confused - do I use all white cane sugar, or do I use part brown sugar? Do I use a recipe calling for water? vinegar? salt? Do I use a lid on pot until sugar melts? candy thermometer? 300 degrees, a little lower, or a little higher temp???

Could someone who knows how to make this candy please post a recipe addressing these questions? Now I'm almost expecting my first batch to fail!

On March 10, 2008 at 05:05 PM, j.whitley (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee recipe
The sun is shinning bright today so i mustered up the courage to make my first batch of English Toffee - using 1 cane cup sugar, 1 unsalted cup butter, 2 T. corn syrup, 1 T. water-cooking to 305 degrees. So far looks like it turned out great! I'm waiting for the chocolate to get firm to pack it in a tin and refrigerate. I've already sampled much more than I needed!

I will continue experimenting with the recipes I've collected from
the internet.

I love trying new recipes and hearing just what others have done to perfect a recipe.ww

On March 23, 2008 at 04:00 PM, anon (guest) said...
Subject: almonds in the toffee
i've been making almost this exact recipe for years, thanks to my mum. a key difference: add the almonds - whole, raw (blanched or with skins) - to the butter/sugar mixture from the beginning. when the mixture starts to darken, you will know it is ready because the almonds start making a popping sound.

rest of the recipe is the same.

this change adds a nice toasted nutty flavour to the recipe. it's seriously delicious and SO easy.

On April 25, 2008 at 08:18 PM, an anonymous reader said...
This was my first attempt at any sort of candy making, and the toffee came out beautifully. I'm planning on handing some out at a rehearsal tomorrow, and I'm sure all will love it. Thanks!

On June 16, 2008 at 09:57 AM, Ragav (guest) said...
Subject: British toffee
The above recipes for English toffee are all variations on an oroginal recipe. I have another recipe which I think is British toffee.

8oz. Caster sugar
2oz. brown sugar
100gms butter
2oz. golden syrup
2oz. milk
4oz. condensed milk
2oz. water
1/4 tsp salt
chopped almonds

On July 07, 2008 at 09:31 PM, gret (guest) said...
Subject: Perfectly shaped toffee?
In an issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, they showed perfect rectangular shaped pieces of English toffee. I've tried to cut the toffee with a pizza cutter but the toffee still breaks apart randomly. I don't mind the irregular shapes but the neat rectangular shapes looked beautiful and it would make packaging the toffee much easier. Any suggestions?

Re: chocolate breaking off the toffee.

I used to put the toffee on the porch outside (winter in Minnesota) immediately after pouring on the chocolate and topping with nuts, but i think it hardened the chocolate too quickly. The chocolate needs time to meld with the toffee and then slowly return to room temperature.


On July 12, 2008 at 08:08 AM, Candy Man Dave (guest) said...
Subject: Choice of cook pot nay be key to preventing seperation.
Have heard that using a thick walled pot is essential. That it is repeated tenperature change that causes seperation.

In a thick walled pot the bottom and sides stay closer in temp due to better conduction. When you stir the batch it is not alternatly heated and cooled by the bottom and sides of the pot.

This might explain the case of a poster from February 02, 2008, 12:53 PM, who had problems after moving from SF. After the move they switched from a Calfalon pot to a Allclad pot.

Hope this helps.

On July 21, 2008 at 03:45 AM, Little Bear (guest) said...
Subject: Happily Amazed !!!!
One of these dayz, I will read all of these wonderful comments on this site.

I did a search for "VINEGAR" in toffee. I was taught that a wee bit of vinegar helps to 'set' the toffee. The only other ingredients we used were equal amounts of butter and sugar.

A quick way to tell if your toffee is ready is by dropping a drop into a cup of ICE COLD water. The quicker the drop solidifies, the more 'harder' your toffee will be. If it turns to mush, you are nowhere near ready to pour ... I suppose that means you are nowhere near the 'crack-point' of the candy?

Practise makes perfect if you can remember what you did.

Or you can judge by your senses.

On August 12, 2008 at 02:13 PM, CICI (guest) said...
Subject: English toffee
I've made English Toffe for gifts before. I've found that you can order the BEST English Toffee I've ever had by going to They make it SOOO easy to order and honestly, it is the best stuff I've ever had. My friends are always thrilled when they get a package of it.[/i]

On August 16, 2008 at 11:20 PM, bassetlover (guest) said...
Subject: tips
I have made toffee at least 20 times & used several similar recipes. here are my tips, no matter which recipe you decide to use. Have everything prepared ahead-
nuts toasted ( a must in my opinion)
nuts chopped
chocolate chopped if not using chips
vanilla or almond extract measured if using
I don't use parchment or foil, just spray lightly with vegetable spray (PAM)

My most used recipe comes from Maria (AKA Diana) at Recipezaar
Once you have everything ready it takes approx. 30 min from chopping the nuts ( I use an old hand held jar-type chopper) to cool time
10 servings
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet bar chocolate

On August 16, 2008 at 11:29 PM, bassetlover (guest) said...
Subject: continued
I couldn't fit the rest of the recipe on my first post!
1. Cook butter, sugar, corn syrup & water over med heat until it reaches 290 degrees, stirring constantly; takes about 11 minutes
2. Remove from heat, add 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3. Pour over coarselychopped nuts on baking sheet
4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over, allow to melt for 2 minutes
5. Spread with off-set spatula
6. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts
7. Put in cool place to harden
8. Break into pieces, store covered (cookie tin) in cool place
9. Enjoy!

On August 21, 2008 at 04:03 PM, Maddy (guest) said...
Subject: The toffee - she is tricky....
My toffee separates so reliably I'm thinking of giving up, but I do have one question....
Might the fat content of the butter make a difference? I'm in Germany (46m above sea level, humidity no idea) and all the butter currently on offer is 82% fat. If i does make a difference, what do I need to do to compensate?

On August 21, 2008 at 07:52 PM, Stephen (guest) said...
Subject: DONT STIR
Try not to stir any suger syrup mixture as stiring will cause suger crystals to form, and you end up with a horibble brittle texture instead of chewy.

On August 24, 2008 at 09:43 AM, Maddy (guest) said...
Subject: The toffee - she is tricky
Stephen wrote:
Try not to stir any suger syrup mixture as stiring will cause suger crystals to form, and you end up with a horibble brittle texture instead of chewy.

Nope, that didn't work either.

On September 06, 2008 at 09:04 PM, DO (guest) said...
Subject: easy to do!
First time trying toffee, followed the recipe instructions, especially about temperature (though I used a marble slab instead of a pan, and chopped walnuts instead of almonds), turned out beautifully. Pictures were so helpful! Next time I think I will use tempered chocolate, it's a bit of a pain to deal with melty chocolate when eating. Tasty, but a pain. :-) Also, will add more salt as the flavor was a bit blah. Texture is fantastic.

To the commenter wondering about getting small shaped pieces instead of the broken off pieces--I saw this site, which suggests scoring the toffee with an oiled knife while it cools.

On September 14, 2008 at 10:42 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Separation
Though I've been making English Toffee around Christmas time off and on for years, the past few years have been total failures. I read all the helpful comments and suggestions in this forum and tried again this afternoon. Slowly raising the heat, 100% pure cane sugar, water, everything. At about 275 degrees, total separation.

In a last act of desperation, I decided to switch from my heavy Circulon sauce pan (non-stick coating) to my stainless steel home brew kettle. Even though this was way too big, and I had a difficult time keeping it from burning because the kettle is not very heavy, the candy turned out beautiful with absolutely no separation.

I love the circulon pans for cooking, but I'm going to have to get a heavy stainless or cast iron pan for toffee.

Thanks for all the advice - David

On October 19, 2008 at 09:59 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Brown vs Cane and opinions please!
Does it make a huge difference if you use brown sugar instead of can sugar? I came across a recipe that used 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup butter, 1/4 cup water, cook to "soft crack" 285 degrees, remove from heat and immediatlely add 1 TBS vanilla and 1/4 tsp baking soda. Having never made toffee before I did this and it seems pretty good, a bit chewy though. Any suggestions appreciated and any answer for the brown vs white sugar question? Thanks

On October 22, 2008 at 08:33 PM, Kim (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I tried your English Toffee recipe today. Twice. Both batches tasted good but both batches seemed much too sticky when chewing. What did I do wrong? Thanks

On October 23, 2008 at 08:21 AM, Dilbert said...
I'm not a super experienced candy maker - but how sugar "turns out" is very dependent on the temperatures used. my first guess would be it did not get hot enough - the higher the cook temperature, the more brittle is becomes when cooled.

a candy thermometer is essential, and I've also learned when working with sugar you need a heavy pot and it will not be rushed.... once the water is gone I like to reduce the heat and sneak up on "the final temperature" very slowly to ensure the whole pot is up to temp.

hope that helps - if it doesn't sound like anything that may have got awry in your methods perhaps someone else can jump in.

On November 03, 2008 at 03:04 PM, Karen Cooke (guest) said...
Subject: Bloom on chocolate
I noticed that on March 2 Caroline Garvey posted she was having the same problem I was with the bloom on the chocolate. I have tried chocolate chips, candy bars and baking chocolate. All do the same thing. After a day of two the bloom appears. Any solutions or suggestions. Thanks.

On November 05, 2008 at 05:15 PM, (guest) said...
Subject: Temper for Bloom-less toffee!
It just takes a little longer, but temper your chocolate before using and you should be able to have beautiful looking toffee enrobed in chocolate!
Do a web-search for "Tempering Chocolate at Home" online and you'll find tons of websites that basically tell you to "work" the mixture by heating and cooling and "working" your chocolate. It makes for a better gift, too! For anyone trying to make individual pieces of toffee, I've used a coated ice-cube tray (yes, one of those old ice cube trays you have hopefully stored in the back of your cabinet!) takes a little practice but pour into as many as you have (pour all remaining on your slab or pan). The little "cubes" will pop out and then you can dip them in tempered chocolate and dredge in ground nuts of your choice!! You could even wrap individually in beautiful colored foil for a real special gift!! All the best to my fellow cooks for the upcoming Holidays!

On November 15, 2008 at 07:53 PM, Juliannepatten (guest) said...
Subject: toffee
I need to make an abundance of toffee. Can anyone advise if they have ever doubled the recipe and if so, how it turned out? I welcome any comment and/or advice.

On November 18, 2008 at 11:02 AM, Lisle (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I was having problems with the toffee separating too. I had a great recipe for peanut brittle that was cooked to a hard crack in the microwave and decided to try cooking the toffee that way too. I use an 8 cup Pyrex vessel with handle, put the butter, sugar, water (and corn syrup) in it and microwave about 5 minutes, stirring halfway, then removing it from the microwave when the color turns that golden brown. It worked like a charm!

On November 27, 2008 at 01:01 PM, dusty dog (guest) said...
Subject: toffee not hardening
I am making toffee for gifts for friends. I have made toffee on and off for ten years. Until I discovered this site, I always thought my failures might have been due to the type of pot (sides too thick? thin? cheap? expensive?). humidity (no toffee making on foggy or rainy days), not wearing my lucky socks or using my lucky spoon ?!?

Does humidity affect the setting up of the toffee? I followed Michaels' directions but when I pulled off my toffee and poured it into the cookie sheet, it didn't set up. Instead of toffee, it resembled butterscotch.

It is foggy and overcast right now, so might the excess humidity affect the toffee?

Thanks for any help!

On November 28, 2008 at 05:17 PM, Lohwa (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
My 9 yo daughter and I just made this. We followed the instructions exactly and it came out perfect! Delish! I think this will be our Christmas present this year. :D

On December 01, 2008 at 11:15 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: new thoughts on the separation issue
Over the years, I've made many batches of toffee from my mom's old recipe and never had a significant problem, till last night. My recipe is identical to the one on this site, with the following differences: mine also has 1 Tbl corn syrup and it doesn't call for salt (mine calls for butter and doesn't specify whether to use salted or unsalted butter). Although I've probably always used salted butter in the past (my notes don't indicate whether I've ever used unsalted), last night, I used unsalted butter (and no added salt) because that's what I had. I may have also rushed the heating process a bit, especially at the onset. WELL, I experienced the separation problem that I see splattered all over these comments. I surely will not rush the heating process in the future; however, my question is: "what is the purpose of the salt?" Does it significantly influence the boiling temp of the mixture; is it just a taste thing; might its lack also contribute to the separation problem; what? And, why use unsalted butter plus added salt; why not just use salted butter? Looks like the separation issue has lots of ideas but I think the only ones that might explain my "failure" (I still managed to rescue the batch by blotting off the oil after pouring onto the cooling slab) is the salt (possible contributor?) and the rate of heating (probable contributor & possibly the only cause?). I've not taken note of whether my sugar is cane or beet (I'm aware, from cake decorating, that there are differences). Any new thoughts, especially on the salt thing? Thanks. David A.

On December 01, 2008 at 09:08 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: new thoughts on the separation issue
Anonymous wrote:
however, my question is: "what is the purpose of the salt?" Does it significantly influence the boiling temp of the mixture; is it just a taste thing; might its lack also contribute to the separation problem; what? And, why use unsalted butter plus added salt; why not just use salted butter?

The salt is for flavor. Adding a little salt to sweet dishes (like cookies and toffee) enhances the taste. We use unsalted butter and then add salt so the amount of salt introduced into the recipe can be controlled. Using salted butter makes the amount of salt in the recipe unpredictable, so someone who uses a salted butter brand that happens to salt their butter heavily will result in a product very different than someone who uses a brand that lightly salts their butter. In the case of butter, we're lucky that they sell unsalted. In recipes that involve chicken broth, for example, we're not that lucky because unsalted chicken broth in now widely available. In those cases we have to resort to the "salt to taste" direction.

On December 02, 2008 at 04:47 AM, viewsaskew (guest) said...
Subject: Salt does matter...I think
I read an article at Cook's Illustrated (or maybe Cook's Country?) awhile back. I sure wish I could find it, but I seem to recall that salt was important to prevent separation. As Michael noted, use unsalted butter and add salt to ensure you get the same saltiness each time. If anyone else has seen it and recalls it, please post.

I also wrote the following in the recipe I typed from the article: "Toffee is more likely to separate when it is stirred too much or cooked too quickly. You can cook it at a lower temperature successfully, it will simply take longer. It needs to remain bubbling as you cook it." I do not know if that is a CI quote or I wrote it from the article or yet another source, however.

Over the years I've read a bit about candy making, but am always trying to learn more. Here's what I've learned/read regarding toffee:

1. Fast temperature changes are bad, so don't abruptly increase or decrease the temp while cooking.

2. Stop stirring at all after 265 F (this also in my CI toffee recipe notes)

3. Stirring throughout should be lazy stirs, not fast or vigorous. You need to do it some, but not excessively.

4. As noted above, do melt that sugar and butter slowly in the beginning.

5. Humidity definitely affects candy making, as noted above. If you are in a humid environment, consider waiting until it's more dry or use a dehumidifier.

6. If toffee does separate, try removing it from the heat and stirring vigorously and evenly. Then put back on the heat, but increase the heat gradually. Another option, as mentioned above, is to add some more water, but don't add more than a few tablespoons. Adding more than 1/4 cup will change the toffee too much and you'll sacrifice texture.

7. Adding corn syrup (glucose) does prevent crystallization, as noted above thread. According to Shirley Corriher about 1 T is all that is needed for a recipe like this because of the high butter content, which also inhibits crystallization. For a great description of why this happens, read the chapter on sugars in Cookwise.

8. The chocolate may not stick to the top simply because some of the fat separated out. Two tricks work. First, simply wipe off the top of the toffee before putting on the chocolate. Second, consider sprinkling some cocoa on top of the toffee to absorb the fat. I haven't tried this, but have read it works.

9. To get it to break evenly, you must score it before it's cool. You can score it pretty quickly after pouring. You can even cut it completely. But, once it's cooled and it's not been scored, it's very hard to get it to break the way you want.

10. Someone asked if you can use brown sugar. I use a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum in which she uses brown sugar: 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 T water, 1 t vanilla. She also uses nuts and chocolate. The main difference is she cooks only to 285, taking it off and adding 1/4 t baking soda along with the vanilla, then pouring over the nuts. She says the temp rises to 290 anyway. I prefer to cook it a bit longer to get a less chewy toffee. As noted above thread, hotter means more brittle. So, a 290 toffee is more chewy than a 300, which is more chewy than a 305. But, you do have to be careful not to burn.

11. Unsure of the baking soda purpose in the above recipe. It's not enough to really add lightness (air bubbles and all that) although some Websites suggest it does, but it could be to counteract the acidity of the brown sugar. Where's a food scientist when you need one. Harold? Shirley?

12. Rubbing butter on the sides of the pan before adding ingredients is helpful to prevent crystallization. The lid on the pan trick also works well, as does brushing the sides of the pan with water.

13. As noted by other posters, the cooking pan does matter and matters a lot. It must be larger than you'd think you'd need as candy can double in volume while boiling. It needs to conduct heat well. It needs to have straight sides. It needs to be heavy enough to prevent scorching.

14. Someone asked about making large volume of this. I seem to recall the CI article saying NOT to double it, but I can't remember why. Could be pan size not able to accommodate, but not sure.

On December 04, 2008 at 01:24 PM, Shannon (guest) said...
Subject: First Attempt - Perfect
After reading all the problems had by all I was terrified to make this. However, I wanted to make it. I think I probably had everything working against me in that I only made half of it because I only had one stick of butter. I would have bought more if I thought it would work but I had one stick of butter on hand and all the other ingredients so I went for it. I melted the butter on low while I read more comments. Then I realized my spatula was melting so I started using a metal spoon, apparently I don't have a wooden one. I stirred pretty much constantly but did so very gentlely. I was convinced it was never combined until the end, but I had nothing to lose at that point. I had to go off of gut feeling of when to take it off. I ended up doing it when it was golden brown and just seemed like the right color for me. I never set the temp above medium low because my stove cooks hot. Mine is considerably darker then the pictures because that is what seemed right to me.

As for my ingredients. I just guessed at the salt. One stick of store brand unsalted. Half a cup of store brand sugar, a drop of white vinegar (I am not kidding when I say a drop), and I forgot the vanilla because I was so scared of how it would taste.

Other things
Elevation 351 feet
Humidity 70%
Pan Emerial Stainless Steel Sauce Pan (pretty heavy)

On December 07, 2008 at 09:08 PM, ttam (guest) said...
Subject: separation of butter in toffee recipes
two years ago I read all your remedies to keep the oil from separating out while you get the toffee close to 295 to 310 degrees. I did add the hot water trick which does get it back to gather, but I notice if you went above 300 degrees it would separate out again. I the bought the book "Candy Making for Dummies" by David Jones. In the toffee recipes he writes to add soy lecithin which prevents the fats from separating. I tried this last year and at first it didn't work, this year I added twice the amount recommended and made two batches and no oil separation. I recommend this book if you are a candy maker. :)

On December 09, 2008 at 11:20 PM, nosaltforu (guest) said...
Subject: salt and separation
To Michael Chu: I noticed that you said the salt is for flavor only. I happen to think that without the salt you will get your toffee to separate. I made the mistake of using unsalted butter in my toffee today and got a separation anxiety and have never, ever had a problem before. Although I have heard about toffee separating, I didn't know what the big deal was until I used unsalted butter in my recipe without adding any salt. Have you ever tried making your toffee without salt?

On December 09, 2008 at 11:50 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: salt and separation
nosaltforu wrote:
To Michael Chu: I noticed that you said the salt is for flavor only. I happen to think that without the salt you will get your toffee to separate. I made the mistake of using unsalted butter in my toffee today and got a separation anxiety and have never, ever had a problem before. Although I have heard about toffee separating, I didn't know what the big deal was until I used unsalted butter in my recipe without adding any salt. Have you ever tried making your toffee without salt?

I looked through my notes and I don't believe I have made toffee without salt. I'm going to definitely have to experiment with that when I get a chance.

On December 10, 2008 at 01:53 AM, alaska george (guest) said...
Subject: toffee - sticky and chewy at room temperature
Hi , I enjoy your comments on toffee cooking. I make pretty good toffee/ buttercrunch. I use your recipe as a base with slight variations. My main
problem is my toffee when it is set out for a couple of hours at room temperature the texture changes and it gets sticky and chewy when you start eating it. When I first take my toffee out of the refrigerator it has a rich
buttery taste with a nice crunchy texture that doesn't stick to your teeth. As
soon as it warms up the texture changes. I have tried using white cane sugar, brown sugar and using caramelized sugar. I then enrobed the toffee bars or pieces with temper chocolate. Afterwards, I would double wrap the pieces in aluminum foil . The best results came with the caramelized sugar toffee chocolate bars. However, after a couple of hours the toffee gets sticky again. Can you help me overcome this problem? Thanks, GK

On December 12, 2008 at 10:32 AM, spuggy (guest) said...
Subject: Re: separation of chocolate from the caramel candy
I am having a problem with the chocolate separating from the caramel. I don't find any solutions posted. What am I doing wrong?

bassetlover wrote:
I couldn't fit the rest of the recipe on my first post!
1. Cook butter, sugar, corn syrup & water over med heat until it reaches 290 degrees, stirring constantly; takes about 11 minutes
2. Remove from heat, add 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3. Pour over coarselychopped nuts on baking sheet
4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over, allow to melt for 2 minutes
5. Spread with off-set spatula
6. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts
7. Put in cool place to harden
8. Break into pieces, store covered (cookie tin) in cool place
9. Enjoy!
:( :(

On December 12, 2008 at 02:38 PM, holly_stevens (guest) said...
Subject: Success! Some minor tips...
Yea! I followed instructions very closely, and all three doubled batches turned out great. I used a large Magnalite Professional straight sided pot (similar to Calphalon cookware) and a wood spatula because I didn't have a silicone one. I did toast the slivered almonds in the toaster oven first because I like the flavor of toasted almonds better. North Carolina, where I am, can be humid and we'd had several days of rain with humidity above 70, so I waited until today when the forecast was for 57% humidity, plus I turned a back burner on low (the one behind the one I'd cook on) to dry out the immediate surroundings. I have an electric stovetop, and I cooked on just a notch above low until the butter/sugar/salt/water mixture was throughly blended. Then I raised the temperature to just a notch below medium for the rest of the time (on my stovetop, medium gets too hot). I stirred lazily and slowly until the temperature reached 265 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I just left the wooden spatula in the pot and refrained from stirring, except I did move the spatula a few times so the syrup sticking to it would cook evenly with the rest. I didn't have parchment, but I used aluminum foil (the slippery, nonshiny side up) and it worked just fine. And I used a pizza cutter to score the candy about two minutes after finishing with the chocolate and almonds -- that worked beautifully!

One extra tip for NON-analytical types who might like to consider the "Zen" in all of this. If you struggle with impatience when stirring slowly and lazily on low until the butter is blended, take this advice from a wise woman I once knew. I had asked her how in the world I could sense Spirit's presence when I'm so distracted by housework and children. She said, "Don't just wash the dishes. J-u-s-t w-a-s-h t-h-e d-i-s-h-e-s." I remembered her advice as I was stirring, and my mantra became, "J-u-s-t s-t-i-r t-h-e b-u-t-t-e-r." You may find yourself, as I did, in a most peaceful trance, and before you know it, your syrup will be at 265 degrees when you can stop stirring. :)

On December 12, 2008 at 11:24 PM, Rick G (guest) said...
Subject: "success" is, C & H pure cane sugar from Hawai
My first few batches this year turned into buttery batches of goo. I could not figure for the life of me what was going wrong as it was successful every time i made it last year. Well number one, make sure your sugar is pure cane sugar. I bought some cheap sugar for my wifes tea and placed it in my canister. I also had a 25 lb bag of C & H that I use for cooking. After three batches of failed product I decided I would try the new bag of C & H.

I also have changed this recipe as I like a darker, and harder candy. I added 1/3 cup of brown sugar and 1 tbsp. of corn syrup. Everybody in my family is raving about it.[/b]

On December 13, 2008 at 03:06 PM, lucy504 said...
Subject: toffee and humidity
What is the HIGHEST acceptable level of humidity for making successfull toffee?

On December 15, 2008 at 10:14 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: toffee
I have a different recipe: 1 pound butter (4 sticks); 1 pound sugar (2 C); 1 pound chocolate (there will be just a bit left over for licking out of the melting bowl) and 1 pound nuts (also some left over, they mix well with the chocolate left in the melting bowl).

I have ALWAYS used salted butter, either Challenge or Land-o-Lakes. In retrospect, I am inclined to think that Challenge is slightly saltier than LoL, but I have never had a problem with either. Also, I have ALWAYS used C&H sugar, which is my personal brand preference in any case, and I think I lucked out here because I never would have figured out the beet sugar issue on my own.

I try to use the drop-it-in-water method of testing, but have found that once it reaches the point where I "think" it's ready, it's unlikely that I actually have time to wait for the water to cool it enough before it starts burning. I also burn about half of my batches because I'm impatient. Once I see and smell the burn, I simply stop scraping the bottom of the pan and pour it out. It never tastes burnt, even if some of the burnt part does go onto the cookie sheet.

I pour my candy out on a foil-lined cookie sheet (sometimes I butter the foil, if I'm in the mood or have the time) and let it cool. While it's cooling, I melt half of my chocolate in a double boiler (well, more often a glass bowl on a pan of water). Sometimes I use Nestle semi-sweet chips, other times I use Hershey milk chocolate bars. It's all good. This year I tried white chocolate with macadamias; that was interesting and I probably won't ever do it again, but still good.

After spreading the melted chocolate on the mostly cooled (sometimes fully cooled from the fridge, it depends if I decided to make the candy the night before) toffee, I sprinkle half of my crushed almonds on top, and press it into the chocolate. While the chocolate is setting (sometimes in the fridge, sometimes overnight), I melt the second half of my chocolate. After the chocolate has set, I flip the whole thing over onto another sheet of foil (sometimes using another cookie sheet to support it, sometimes not, depends how adventurous I'm feeling that day) and repeat the chocolate and almond thing on the other side. Let it cool, then break it up.

I've noticed that it breaks very well if you break it first at the middle, across the narrowest width. Then, each piece from there should be broken the same way, at the middle, across the narrowest width. Pieces generally stay pretty uniform that way.

I have to say that I am less of an engineer and more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of person, but I would have to say that in 20 years of making this stuff, I've never had what I would call a failed batch. Some have had a bit of oil on the top (never much), but that wipes off just fine. Last Christmas, I burned a batch beyond recognition, but being the frugal self that I am, I still turned it out on a cookie sheet "just to see how bad it really is." The kids disappeared that batch in less than 3 days (no chocolate, no nuts), so I can't think it was all that bad.

None of my batches taste exactly the same, which I think is contrary to the engineer's goal, but I would also say that all of my batches tasted wonderful and I would not call any of them a failure. It's a massively fun activity and for me, about 40% of the joy of it is in the making. Obviously, 60% of the joy is in the eating.

(Is this post too long? It's so much fun to talk about cooking!)
Susan ;)

On December 16, 2008 at 03:52 PM, gem66 (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee!!
I have been making a similar recipe every Christmas for more than half my life! (over 20 years now!) And I am SO happy that I'm not the only one with "separation" problems! I will try melting the butter & sugar together more slowly from now on! Also, I've begun suspecting the humidity in the room as well as whether or not I have the oven on have had an impact on the separation!

To comment on some of the other posts, I also saw more of a separation problem when I used unsalted butter, or omitted the salt from the recipe!

I cook using a large skillet instead of a saucepan - maybe I'll have to try that!

I also toast my almonds before I use them - tastes better that way! Also, when it's done cooking, I pour the mixture into an UNgreased cookie sheet, then proceed with the chocolate chips & nuts. I never have a problem with it sticking - heck - it IS half butter already! ;-)

On December 17, 2008 at 12:12 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Great recipe
Hello! I live in Stansbury Park, UT elevation 4300ft. My husband and I make candy for the neighbors every year and thought we would add a new treat to our usual. This is the first time we have ever made toffee and it turned out great. No separation problems at all. As we were reading all these posts, we started to wonder if the separation problem would have anything to do with the type of cook wear used!? We used a stainless steel pan. We melted the butter first on a low heat, then added the sugar, salt and water. Cooked that on the low heat for a bit then turned up the heat to a medium heat and let it boil away! At precisely 300 degrees, removed from heat and stirred in vanilla. The finished product looks great, and from what I tasted from the spoon, tastes great too! Thanks for this great recipe. :D

On December 18, 2008 at 03:34 AM, Ann (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I just made 4 batches of toffee tonight using the same recipe and procedures and 2 turned out fine and 2 are sugary. I add 1 Tbsp. corn syrup and 3 Tbsp. water and live in Seattle so can't avoid the humidity! I just can't figure out what causes the inconsistency in my results. I have been cooking my toffee on med-low for about 25 minutes until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

On December 18, 2008 at 01:25 PM, SHM1944 (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I used your directions to make your toffee but I still had butter seperating from the mixture. It looked good at 235-240 but the longer I cooked it more butter began to seep out.

I stopped the process on the second batch at a soft crack stage. It has a nice bite although it is grainy. Do I need to factor in altitude to the temperature? I live at 4200 feet.

Is unsalted or salted butter better, could that be contributing to the problem? Would the size of the pan be a problem?

I am trying to get this made for gifts and my time is running out. Thank you for your help.

On December 19, 2008 at 02:23 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: butter and sugar separate
Thanks for a great website! my daughter and I had the same experience as many others -- that the butter-sugar mixture began to separate at about 280 degrees no matter how carefully we controlled the temperature, and the toffee was a total loss. However, we discovered that different brands of butter behave differently. In particular, Trader Joes butter always separated, but Land-o-lakes does not.

On December 20, 2008 at 05:32 PM, Karen (guest) said...
Subject: Sticky toffee at room temperature
alaska george wrote:
Hi , I enjoy your comments on toffee cooking. I make pretty good toffee/ buttercrunch. I use your recipe as a base with slight variations. My main
problem is my toffee when it is set out for a couple of hours at room temperature the texture changes and it gets sticky and chewy when you start eating it. When I first take my toffee out of the refrigerator it has a rich
buttery taste with a nice crunchy texture that doesn't stick to your teeth. As
soon as it warms up the texture changes. I have tried using white cane sugar, brown sugar and using caramelized sugar. I then enrobed the toffee bars or pieces with temper chocolate. Afterwards, I would double wrap the pieces in aluminum foil . The best results came with the caramelized sugar toffee chocolate bars. However, after a couple of hours the toffee gets sticky again. Can you help me overcome this problem? Thanks, GK

I need the same exact question answered please! Have same problem as George. As soon as I noticed the condensation on the candy and the stickiness I put the candy in seal a meal airtight backs and back into the freezer. Will this fix what I've already made?

On December 21, 2008 at 08:02 PM, Jan (guest) said...
Subject: ta!
Thank you so much for a great recipe. I did just what you said but added three pieces of advice from the comments:

*replace 1 of the tsp water with 1 tsp vinegar (not one crystal problem)
*melt the butter first at low heat before stirring in sugar and raising heat to medium
*stir lazily

Made it chocolate-free by choice and stirred in toasted almonds before pouring out. It's wonderful and set beautifully. Thanks!

On December 22, 2008 at 04:31 PM, Wooly Wombat (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee - Altitude adjustment
We used to make toffee without difficulty, but failed every time after we moved to 4,000 ft elevation. A local cooking guru suggested that we must decrease the temperature of sugary syrups by 1 degree F. for every 500 ft elevation above sea level. He suggested cooking to a temperature of 7 degrees F. less than the recipe calls for.

On December 23, 2008 at 10:18 PM, PerriEllen (guest) said...
Subject: rolling toffee
To get my toffee nice & thin, I use a wooden rolling pin to roll the hot candy between 2 pieces of parchment right on top of my stone countertops. It works great!

On December 24, 2008 at 11:08 AM, Ed (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
First batch I made from another recipe, the butter clarified and never did combine right. I used this recipe EXCEPT I only used 1-1/2 sticks of buter (3/4 cup) and it turned out great..only takes about 10 mins to make!

On December 24, 2008 at 01:03 PM, susan (guest) said...
Subject: First time toffee maker
I used a recipe from an old Betty Crocker book. Very similar to this one, except called for brown sugar. However this recipe said after melting butter and brown sugar together to cook on medium heat, stir constantly for 7 minutes. After that pour over nuts and continue as described in this recipe. I followed this recipe and made two pretty near perfect batches. There was no mention of temperatures on this recipe, but someone had told me that it needed to definitely get above 200 degrees. So on the first batch, I tried to measure the temperature at 7 minutes and almost burned it. I pulled it off quickly and stirred it back up before pouring into a greased pan. It tasted a little browner, but otherwise was still very good. The second batch was perfect, I reduced the temperature to low-medium, but stirred gently but constantly, and pulled off at about 6.5 minutes.

I am at about 720 feet elevation, and it has been dry lately. I was excited, because I was always afraid of candy making. This went so smoothly and was very successful. I used pecans because they are my favorite.

On December 27, 2008 at 11:56 AM, Russell (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee variant
Another option aside from chopped/slivered almonds is to use chopped pecans. It'd be interesting to try toffee with almonds though... my mother uses chopped pecans (though the pecans are basically pebbles by size) and it's delicious.

On December 27, 2008 at 05:58 PM, Pocket Protector said...
Subject: Toffee: A secret ingredient
My mother has made this stuff since Moby Dick was a minnow. Her recipe uses 1/2 C margarine and 1/2 C butter (salted, not sweet) and omits the salt. She adds one secret ingredient that makes it over the top. Add a tsp instant coffee to the vanilla before adding it to the candy. So much better than that stuff in the pink can... A copper candy pan will make quick work of the production--just under 20 minutes to cook the candy to 300F. Definitely worth the expense.


On January 03, 2009 at 10:02 AM, toffqn said...
Subject: making toffee
I just :lol: began to make toffee december 08 probably about 30 times. Once I had the separation - my original recipe included teaspoon lemon juice with salt. So when it happened I took it off stove kept stirring and added lemon juice and it returned to its mix. I think this site and Michael Chu and the readers are great and I learned a lot reading this. I will try the suggestion with espresso beans. My problem is last few times toffee is too sticky eating it. Today I made it to reach 300 degrees so I want to see when its done out of refrigerator the texture. With each temperature the texture is different.
I am interested to package and sell it eventually however here in San Francisco CA area you cannot sell commercially without a certified commercial kitchen

On January 06, 2009 at 11:05 AM, toffqn said...
Subject: Toffee separates
I think I know what causes the separation cause it just happened. I am making toffee almost every day to learn how to do it and the mistakes. So I think my thermometer isnt right and I want some recommendations about a thermometer. I knew by now the different colors it takes as it goes through stages. Yet when the thermometer still said below 300 I kept it going raised heat big mistake. Then it was very black and I removed it and sure enough on the granite board the butter separated.
Its in the frig so I will keep it there and look at it after I do my walk.
So I need a new thermometer and also to trust what I know about the indication of the colors and the stages


On January 06, 2009 at 12:40 PM, Dilbert said...

I've been using Taylor brand in many forms for ... gosh, hate to enumerate how many years,,,

recently got a dial type Taylor with a very effective rubberized clip - just looked, no model number on the thing - but it was all packaged up in plastic that needed plastic explosives to open . . .

On January 24, 2009 at 11:53 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I don't particularly like nuts in my candy, and I didn't have any chocolate, so I followed your recipe just to make regular toffee. It did not separate and the colour is slightly darker than shown in your picture. I used about 4 teaspoons of water in the melted butter/sugar mixture. I live at 330 m above sea level. I ran my stovetop fan on low constantly to try to suck out any unwanted moisture. I used what I believe to be cane sugar (it doesn't actually say, but a flowery description on the back describes the cane evaporation process) and plain unsalted butter.

It is cooling now so I have only eaten tiny little bits like what was leftover on the spoon, but it is delicious and very crunchy. It is slightly greasy on top but not separated.

Thought this might help in figuring out what's going wrong for some people.

On January 24, 2009 at 12:08 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Upon further investigation and breaking into pieces, I've noticed something odd about my toffee- the edges of the sheet are normal and have the proper texture, but the centre is somewhat grainy. I believe this came from pushing the toffee around after having poured it into the sheet. It was spreading fine on its own, but the instructions said to push it into a rectangular shape, so I did. The parts that were pushed became grainy and the edges, which flowed naturally, aren't as grainy.

The edges have a nice "snap" when you break them, but the centre only makes a dull sound, and feels more like compressed sugar and butter than toffee.

On January 24, 2009 at 03:49 PM, toffqn said...
Subject: english toffee that isnt toffee
So I am making a lot of toffee for few months and I made mistakes so I want to write here
Recently i went to Fancy Food Show in SF CA and followed Michael Chu advice to go to all the toffee vendors and try their samples.
First I now know what I make its not toffee
I tried some excellent toffee - particularly like something from Claire in SF - I have the card and will post it later. Also Napa Valley Toffee. One toffee had cashew nuts. One lady makes Toffee pudding
It was a marvelous food show
My candy cause I had a faulty thermometer was very dark when it said 300 degrees. By then the sugar was burnt.
However I gave out a lot of this to people I know and most people really liked it. One lady friend kept telling me Its not toffee!.
Heres the thing - the toffee I tried at the food show would really make my dentist rich. I cant eat that often.
The candy I make - some form of candied dark chocolate with nuts is easy to eat if you dont mind the burnt sugar taste. My mixture doesnt separate only twice. I think its sometimes an elevation issue and Im in San francisco.
So now what? I havent made toffee in a week and Im ready to try again -- oops not toffee candied chocolate nut bar

I also need thermometer

(have to change my user name cause Im not that)

On January 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: The easy toffee
Great work on this. I tried it for the first time this morning. Absolutely perfect! After reading some of the concerns posted I have to admit I wass a little worried. My current eleveation is approx 3500 ft AMSL and it is a cool dry morning. The secret I think, is to stir constantly. Also when melting the butter and water together listen for it. As it warms to much on the sides you will be able to hear it boiling. Start stirring then and do not stop until you get to the 300 mark. A moderatly brisk stir when adding the vanilla and it turned out perfect twice in a row. Good Luck

On January 29, 2009 at 11:00 AM, toffqn said...
Subject: Toffee again
so a question
if it sticks to your teeth is that toffee?
I bought a thermometer and made it this morning
its good and its sticking to teeth


On January 29, 2009 at 12:12 PM, Dilbert said...
the good toffees I've had did exhibit a fondness for teeth <g>

On January 29, 2009 at 01:29 PM, Michael Chu said...
Dilbert wrote:
the good toffees I've had did exhibit a fondness for teeth <g>

There should be a tackiness after the initial crumbly crunch. After that clean break, as the toffee is broken up, it can become somewhat sticky, but not as much as a caramel. It also shouldn't remind you of Jolly Rancher.

On January 29, 2009 at 03:10 PM, toffqn said...
I do believe I made toffee Michael - want to try it again?


On February 10, 2009 at 05:55 PM, ginny (guest) said...
Subject: adding chocolate into the toffee mix, not on top
I love the basic toffee recipe and it turns out great each time, except when I add chocolate to the mixture (not on top, but into the pot at the end). I've used 1/2 c. chocolate pieces and I've also used 1/2 or 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa. The taste is great but a whole lot of oil separates out after you pour it into the pan. Any hints on why this happens?

On February 21, 2009 at 05:17 AM, simrnz said...
Subject: Tips for toffee separation
There could be many reasons for this:
abrupt temperature shift [ placing it in very cold or very hot temperature even for a very time span ]
Also keep an eye on the toffee cooknig process in the very start, when butter and sugar melt; a good reason for separation could be the uneven melting process of sugar and butter.

On February 25, 2009 at 01:07 PM, Majesty said...
Subject: European butter and sugar differences
I have two questions. One is about the butter. Some people said that it goes wrong using European butter. I live in Europe so I don't really have a choice, and the butter I mostly use has 82% fat. Is that okay? Are there people having experience making toffees using European butter?

Now about the sugar. I read from a lot of people that you HAVE to use cane sugar, and not beet sugar. But I've always heard that sugar crystals are the same, no matter if they come from beets or cane. The only difference is that unrefined cane sugar has more extra nice-tasting thingies (I think it's called molasses), but basically it's all sucrose.

Couldn't it be that people have better results with cane sugar because the molasses make the sugar wetter, and for toffee one needs moist?

On February 25, 2009 at 04:03 PM, Dilbert said...
there's quite a few questions in there <g>

the usual distinction made between Eur / Amer butter is unsalted vs salted.
note that many many sweets have a touch of salt - it's a complimentary taste to the sweetness.

the fat content of butter varies from 80-86% but "brand names" control the fat content much more closely than that range.
82% is just fine.

cane vs beet - at a technical level you're suppose to be right.
regards molasses, there's not much of that left in refined white table sugar or either continent.

brown sugar, sugar in the raw, turbanado - there's a few hundred names applied to "less than fully refined sugar"

On March 27, 2009 at 07:44 AM, Candy Gal (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee tips
Many here are complaining that the butter separates from the sugar. I have found that when my butter is very fresh, that separation doesn't happen.

I combine the sugar and the room temperature butter very well before I turn on the heat. I use a low setting until all the butter melts, then turn it up to medium-low. This takes longer but the taste is wonderful. For a smoother texture, combine very well before turning on the heat and don't stir the mixture at all until it gets up past 250 degrees.

On April 22, 2009 at 01:32 AM, StuckInNC (guest) said...
Subject: stickiness
I tried toffee for the first time today. I cooked it on medium, stirred only occasionally, didn't have it separate, and all looked fine until I tried to break it. Some pieces break off OK, but some want to twist and stretch more than to break. I went ahead, hoping it would harden later, but it did remind me somewhat of Jolly Rancher after the first crunch. Any suggestions?

On April 22, 2009 at 12:43 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: stickiness
StuckInNC wrote:
I tried toffee for the first time today. I cooked it on medium, stirred only occasionally, didn't have it separate, and all looked fine until I tried to break it. Some pieces break off OK, but some want to twist and stretch more than to break. I went ahead, hoping it would harden later, but it did remind me somewhat of Jolly Rancher after the first crunch. Any suggestions?

Sounds like you might be making toffee in a fairly humid environment. If it's humid or damp where you are, try turning on the air conditioning a couple hours beforehand to help reduce the moisture in the air.

On May 10, 2009 at 01:35 AM, laeliebabe (guest) said...
Subject: laser cut toffees?
Greetings from the Blue Mountains. This is my first time visiting your website, and I am reading comments before I try this toffee... and a few of your other recipes...(I originally came on to read about how to make your own butter, and subsequently have been browsing for 15 mins!) the pictures showing each step of each recipe are such a good idea!!
I thought of something funny regarding how Martha Stewart gets hers so perfectly square...
maybe Martha Stewart [b:cc11b49090]laser cuts hers? :D :)
I don't live at sea level either so it has been helpful to read about why scientifically the toffee may not turn out.

On May 19, 2009 at 11:27 AM, An Engineer (guest) said...
Subject: More Science please!
this recipe does not separate it self from any other cooking recipe as far as this being for engineers. There is no scientific twist to the recipe. Maybe you can go back and edit the article and add in some important facts that will make it more suitable for this site. Recommendation:

Toffees and caramels both contain butter (a fat) and sugar in high quantities. If the toffee or caramel is not handled properly during the cooking process, the butter sometimes separates from the sugar and forms an oily layer on top of the candy. This often happens during the cooking stage, but sometimes it separates as it is being poured out onto a baking sheet to cool.
There are a few reasons toffees and caramels separate. One of the most common triggers is when the candy has undergone an abrupt temperature shift, either becoming too cold or too hot in a very short period of time. Try not to "shock" your candy by drastically turning the heat up or down during cooking. Additionally, it is especially important to watch the candy in the beginning of the cooking process, while the butter and sugar are melting together, because separation can often result if these two elements melt unevenly. If you have very effective stovetop burners I recommend turning them to medium-low to allow the butter and sugar to melt gently in the beginning stages.

Toffee and caramel can also separate if the recipe calls for constant stirring and the candy isnt stirred often enough. Additionally, separation is more likely to occur when using thinner (cheaper) saucepans, as they dont conduct heat efficiently and lead to hot spots that can cause the butter to separate. Finally, humidity can cause the butter to separate, so if your kitchen is very warm and humid, its not a good time to be making candy.

So, can your separated candy be saved? If your candy separates during the cooking process, there is a chance you can save it. Sometimes separated toffee or caramel can be saved by removing the saucepan from the heat and stirring constantly and smoothly until it comes back together, then gradually returning it to the heat, stirring constantly. You can also try adding a spoonful or two of very hot water to the toffee to help it come together. Start with one tablespoon and stir the candy to help it come together. Add additional spoonfuls if necessary, but do not add more than 1/4 cup of water total. If you have already poured your candy out to cool by the time it separates, the candy is unfortunately too far gone to save.

Also inform the reader that the chocolate sprinkled on the toffee is not tempered and so will be soft and feel oily unless tempered.

This is a fine recipe and description for making toffee and would be fine on any other site but on a site named "Cooking for ENGINEERS" it missed the mark. With some tweaking i think it can be deserving of its place on this site and I hope it does get the editing it deserves

On June 01, 2009 at 08:27 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I tried, and I failed....

First, I did add 1 TBSP of corn syrup to original recipe...
I used low heat to make sure the sugar was well dissolved, and very slowly brought up the heat. I used a nice heavy pot, seperation was not a problem. I don't know why, but the mixture really started taking on a dark color at about 270 degrees, and started smoked by 280. I should've pulled it then, but wanted to get it to 300 for the right texture. I ended up with a nice burned butter toffee. The garbage man will probably enjoy I have absolutely no clue as to why it burned at such a low temperature... I was using a candy thermometer, so there wasn't any delay in reading the temp. I didn't time the whole preocess, but I'm guessing it was too long, and I should've used a much higher heat. I did observe just a nice slow steady rise in temp through the cooking, once I had the butter & sugar combined. I'd guess it took a total of 20 minutes or better. ANy suggestions????

On June 10, 2009 at 12:36 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I seem to have had the opposite problem from the poster above. Everything seemed to go well, except that even at 300 F the mixture never achieved the nice tan color shown in your photos--it always stayed somewhat pale. So I left it on until about 310 F, but it still never really darkened. I poured it out anyway, and while there was a little bit of oil, I never observed the full-blown "separation" others have mentioned.

The toffee turned out alright, but unfortunately, it was chewy and a little grainy. Now, maybe this is what some people mean when they think of toffee, but I was hoping for something a lot harder, crunchier, and darker (my toffee turned out almost white). I'm perfectly willing to have another go, but I'm at a bit of a loss as to what I should change. Any suggestions?

For reference, my elevation is 5000 ft, and my ingredients are mostly store-brand (sugar, unsalted butter, even the saucepan). I used a candy thermometer (I've tried just eyeballing it in the past and had even worse disasters).



On June 12, 2009 at 12:33 AM, becky e. (guest) said...
Subject: toffee recipe worked great for me -- at least 5 times!
I've been pleased with this recipe each time I've made it. I don't baby it along either -- medium high heat, generic butter, generic sugar, stir the whole time. I stir the almonds in at the end because my daughter doesn't like chocolate and they don't stick all that well on top without it. I use imitation vanilla (which Cook's Illustrated has approved), so I can add it at the beginning. I also add a little extra salt, just because I think it enhances the buttery flavor. I've also doubled it successfully, in my old Revere Ware 4-qt saucepan.

On July 25, 2009 at 07:55 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: yet more toffee separation anxiety
I obsessed over cooking instructions before trying to make toffee - anything using a thermometer is probably just past my capabilities. I've made the toffee twice. The second time, I used a scant less sugar to make it a little less sweet (crazy, I know).

I used low heat the entire time. It took me an hour and I got the dreaded separation and the temp approached 300 degrees. I was able to soak up the oil w/paper towel. The toffee was better than the first time I made it. BUT, is it possible to cook it for too long (should it take over an hour?) or was there some imbalance created when I lessened the amount of sugar.

Is it possible to keep the whole thing incorporated or is it better for the "hard crunch" to have lost some of the oil?

I'm very curious. Thanks so much!

Linda N.

On July 31, 2009 at 11:15 PM, Michelle (guest) said...
Subject: I just made English Toffee!
OK I made some mistakes (forgot the vanilla and I used margarine because that is all i had) It turned out beautifully, I have a lovely crunchy toffee with no seperation. Crunch crunch crunch all the way through. Yum, thanks for the recipe!

On August 02, 2009 at 03:48 PM, Blank Frank (guest) said...
Subject: Vanilla extract
I haven't tried to make this yet, but I wonder if the site owner would care to comment on what type of vanilla extract to use. Some extracts are alcohol-free, which means they contain more water-- would that eff up your toffee?

Honestly, I would think that even the smaller amount of water in regular extracts would be deleterious to the mix. Should it be mixed in thoroughly, or do you recommend just folding it in quick-like? Or does it really not matter and I'm just paranoid?

On August 04, 2009 at 09:51 AM, an anonymous reader said...
ok, i posted back in June about my first attempt, which turned out burnt. I thought about it, and decided to check out the accuracy of my candy thermometer against another thermometer that I know is "extremely" accurate. It turns out that the "new" candy thermometer was somewhere between 25-30 degrees F off, so when my unit said 300, it was 325-330.

I tried it again using my "good" unit, and the candy was perfect..:)

On August 11, 2009 at 08:11 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Okay, I have tried several variations on this recipe since my failure back in June, and I think I finally found one that worked for me: per the suggestions located here and elsewhere, I tried adding a few tablespoons of light corn syrup. I don't know why that was necessary for me while others didn't need it, but at least it worked.

Also, I'll echo what others have said about being careful regarding thermometer readings: when my toffee reaches what I consider to be the appropriate color, my thermometer reads as high as 320 F.


On August 13, 2009 at 06:38 AM, harpstrung (guest) said...
Subject: Making TOFFEE with the wonderful TIPS!!!
THANK YOU ALL FOR THE WONDERFUL TIPS! They proved to be very successful at my first attempt in making Toffee. (I do make other candies: fudge, marshmallows, and more recently I am not a novice, but candy making can be very sensitive.)

The person who posted helpful hints about cooking in high altitude, thank you! I stirred my mixture slowing and graduated the heat slowly, too. Also, I added a touch of vinegar, and 1 tsp. of agave syrup in place of the corn syrup at the beginning after I melted my butter (salted butter) very slowly, as well. Also, I added 1/8 tsp. of Cream of Tartar to my half size recipe. I do not have a candy thermometer, so I used my "nose" when I detected the slightest caramelization (noticing that it started to smell like Toffee!) Off the stove it went and was spread onto my jelly roll pan, (greased with butter with toasted almonds stuck to it!)...which was a great idea from another poster..."Thank You so much!" I loved it that way! After spreading the chocolate over it...(my kids had eaten all my chocolate chips, so I had to quickly grab my cocoa powder, adding a pat of butter, a couple tablespoons of milk and some sugar, with a quick zap in the micro, and whalaa!~spreadable chocolate!)...I then sprinkled finely chopped almonds on top! It turned out so perfect with the right soft crunch! It was easy to cut apart into tiny rectangles, too! I took the time to read every single post before making! Thanks to you all!

On September 26, 2009 at 12:08 PM, Toffee Lover (guest) said...
Subject: Great Read
I thought this was a great read, and on a topic I LOVE (i.e. food....and toffee)!. I love toffee. Enstroms is good but the best I have had so far is Truly Toffee. I just had it at a wedding, was great.

On November 13, 2009 at 04:42 PM, VroomGrrl (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee tweak
This is an awesome toffee recipe. Loved following the travails and successes of other folks who tried it! Thanks to you all.

For a delicious twist, you can line a cookie sheet with saltine crackers, and when the sugar mixture has boiled 3 minutes, remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, then put this into a preheated 400 oven for about 5 mins (WATCH IT CAREFULLY - BURNS SO FAST!). Remove and then proceed with chocolate melting on top and garnish with nuts, cooling & setting up, then break into bite size pieces.

The crackers get saturated with the sugar mixture and what you have at the end is remarkably like a home-made HEATH BAR. Yum!

On November 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM, Luvs2Cook (guest) said...
Subject: TOFFEE Separation and higher altitudes issues
I have been making toffee for about 15 years when my coworker made beautiful perfect batches for us and got me hooked on it. MOST OF MY BATCHES SEPARATED. I still have my dented in jelly roll pan, from when I jabbed it with my wooden spoon, to remind me of the frustration resulting from batch after batch of separated toffee with no ideas of possible reasons (this was BEFORE the internet). At that time I lived in Lake Tahoe (6400 ft. altitude), so I tested it at sea level during many vacations to Hawaii and had far less separation issues. So I thought I had an altitude issue...after tirelessly investigating, I found 2 things that have made my separation issues disappear. LECITHIN [u:29aecefafc]OR[/u:29aecefafc] CORN SYRUP!!!!! I never have the separation issues since I started using the corn syrup (easier to have on hand than the lecithin). Also, it's been a while, but you have to adjust your temperature as you increase the elevation you make it at. I will look it up in my candy book and post under "High Altitudes." I live in the desert now (400 ft) and have no issues. It is my opinion that it's because of the [u:29aecefafc]corn syrup!!![/u:29aecefafc] I stayed up all night to read every post on here - that is how dedicated I am to perfecting this wonderful candy and seeing others issues with this. I always thought I was alone in these problems because NOBODY had ideas that worked. BTW, I use stainless steel pots and almost always double my recipes. Never has that been a factor in separation. If anyone is afraid of adding the nuts, as one poster said, sprinkle them on your area you are to pour the toffee out onto instead of adding them into the mixture. Stay tuned for the high altitude tips. Will post tonight. Gotta sleep.....7:30am NAMASTE!

On November 16, 2009 at 01:06 AM, Luvs2Cook (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Making At High Altitudes
Well, sure enough, I don't know where my candy-making book went. I will continue to look for it, and when I find it, will post what it says about temperature adjustments and altitudes. My appologies.

On November 21, 2009 at 08:37 AM, an anonymous reader said...
First attempt it came out perfectly but as I was pouring it onto the pan I realized I had forgotten to add the vanilla. Second try when I added the vanilla the butter and sugar instantly separated. Third try I added the vanilla at the beginning and it came out as advertised.

I love toffee and this recipe tastes great! Definitely a keeper.

On November 25, 2009 at 10:33 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee not hardening
I've made toffee for 10 years now. Someteims it comes out well, sometimes not.

New problem for me t his time around: I make the toffee, in low humidity circumstances (I now check the weather report to see what my local humidity is), pull the pot off the stove when the thermometer says 300-310. I pour the toffee into buttered pan and hold my breath. More often than not this year, the edges will harden but the center is grainy and soft.

Any suggestions?

On November 30, 2009 at 05:47 AM, Pennzer (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I make toffee a lot, and I'll just mention a few things I've learned over the years...
European butter has very low water content. If you use it, add water to your recipe. American butter can be up to 16% water, and you should not add water when using American. The texture of your candy will never be right if you have too much water. The butter will separate if you do not have enough water...i.e. with European.
DO NOT melt your butter first. Put sugar and butter in cold pot together and melt together slowly. If you melt butter first, you are cooking it and losing water. See the bubbles it makes when melting? That is water escaping. Stir butter/sugar while heating on low until all sugar is dissolved. Leave it alone until it comes to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and continue to cook covered for 3 minutes. The steam formed will clear the sugar crystals off the sides of the pot. Remove lid and hang a thermometer on the side and stir occasionally. As it approaches target temp, stir more often to keep from burning.
Test your thermometer. Place the thermometer in a small pan of water, deep enough for the bulb to be fully immersed but not touching the bottom. Make a note of the temp 3 minutes after the water comes to a boil. At sea level, your reading should be 212 degrees. Subtract your actual reading from 212 to get the amount of adjustment. I am at 2700' above sea level, and my reading is 207 at boiling, so my adjustment is minus 5 degrees. Toffee should be cooked to 300 at sea level, so my toffee should only be cooked to 295--300 minus my adjustment of 5 degrees.

On November 30, 2009 at 06:33 AM, Pennzer (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee

I add 1/2 C very finely chopped toasted pecans (personal pref) to the syrup after it has reached temp and immediately remove and pour onto a Silpat mat (other surfaces work just fine) and spread as thinly as possible. If some of the oil seeps out, I blot it with a paper towel. I then immediately spread melted chocolate over it and then top with another 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans and gently press into the chocolate with an offset spatula. I use Hershey bars melted in a double boiler so the choc is very thin. I move it to a cooler place (out of the kitchen) and let it set at room temp. I might put in fridge 20 min. or so if I'm in a hurry.

When choc has set, I break it into large pieces and then cut with a large chef's knife into smaller pieces. I'll have to try the rotary pizza cutter suggested in an earlier post--sounds like a great idea.

I use salted butter and do not add salt. I do not add water, vinegar, corn syrup, or baking soda. I use store brand butter and sugar.

I immediately put the cut candy pieces in Gladware-type plastic containers, put the lid on and put in the freezer until time to serve. It will keep a year or more--perfectly--in the freezer. NEVER store it in the fridge, and put unused portions back into the freezer. It can be eaten straight out of the freezer but its better to set it out a while before serving.

This is not a difficult candy. If you have suffered a failure, try again. I have actually made this candy without stirring at all from beginning to end. I put the sugar and butter on very low and stepped outside to do something, got carried away and forgot the candy. When I came back in, the syrup was just at temp and turned out perfect.

Toffee must be cooked all the way to temp. It will get quite dark when done--almost burned. That's what gives it the signature toffee taste, and that's what makes it brittle--cooking all the way to the hard crack stage. If your toffee is light colored and the texture is chewy or grainy, you have not cooked it enough. If you are serious about making this seriously great candy, invest in a really good thermometer. I have a Polder digital, but I made it many years using cheap grocery store thermometers. BUT I tested them each season.

I always double this recipe and have no problems. I use a stainless steel pot with tall straight sides. No need to have a particularly oversized pot. If you don't add water, you will not have the foamy boil at all.

I got my pot on Amazon. I'll try to find it and post a link. It cost ~$30. Gave one to each of my kids, too. They love to make candy. We make many batches in December and give as Christmas gifts. We make ahead and keep in freezer until ready to put into prettier containers. Needless to say, we make many people very happy.

G'luck. Don't give up.

On December 01, 2009 at 12:26 PM, Canner (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I live in Ohio. I make toffee with 1 lb Amish Butter, 2 tbsp water and 1 cup Great Value Sugar; adding a tsp of vanilla once I remove the mixture from the heat. I've never had an issue with separation or granulation. I do not use a candy thermometer. I add all the ingredients(except vanilla) in a cold HEAVY sauce pan. I turn the burner on low to low medium until butter is melted. I gently stir the mix and turn up the heat to medium. I leave it alone until it begins to boil. At that point, I begin to gently stir until the sauce is a golden brown at which time I drop a tiny bit of the sauce with a teaspoon into a cup of very cold water. If it's up to temp, it will turn to a hard candy form immediately when dripped into the water. If it's still somewhat soft, I'll cook a little longer. I remove it from the heat and immediately add the vanilla. I gently stir the vanilla into the mixture. Then I add roasted almonds with brown sugar carmalized to the almonds to the mix. I poor onto parchment paper or foil in a cookie sheet. I immediately sprinkle the semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top and spread them with a soft spatula as the chips melt. I leave set in a cool area until set; about an hour at 69 degree room temp. I've also rushed the cooling process by placing it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Never had an issue with the toffee. It's a family favorite.

On December 04, 2009 at 12:34 PM, Mary Conner (guest) said...
Subject: hallelujah
Finally, a cooking website that approaches things logically, including relevan details and specific measurements! I am SO OVER half-page rhapsodies about what my family and friends will think of a recipe once I've prepared it and one-quarter page lists of instructions. IT WILL NEVER BE GOOD IF I CAN'T MAKE IT PROPERLY. Thank you, Cooking for Engineers, for making Christmas Toffee a possibility this year!

On December 09, 2009 at 12:00 AM, wbm1112 (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee?
Grandma used to make what she called toffee, chocolate covered toffee that had a lighter/airy texture... It wasn't hard like toffee but almost like a "Solid Cream"...??? I believe she used Eagle Sweetened condensed? Grandma is gone and would like to make this but she took the recipe with her, any help is appreciated

Please send responses to

Thanks again,

On December 09, 2009 at 12:49 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Toffee?
wbm1112 wrote:
Grandma used to make what she called toffee, chocolate covered toffee that had a lighter/airy texture... It wasn't hard like toffee but almost like a "Solid Cream"...??? I believe she used Eagle Sweetened condensed? Grandma is gone and would like to make this but she took the recipe with her, any help is appreciated

Nougat or fudge?

On December 10, 2009 at 06:46 PM, Rick the Kraut (guest) said...
Subject: Change
I have changed this recipe in 2 ways. I use 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, then add 3/4 cup pure cane sugar to the mix. I also add in the vanilla at the start in place of one of the teaspoons of water. Must be doing something right as I got two more orders today from the ladies at the bank. One said it is the best toffee she has ever eaten.

On December 10, 2009 at 07:09 PM, Rick the Kraut (guest) said...
Subject: reply to grainy toffee
I've made toffee for 10 years now. Someteims it comes out well, sometimes not.

New problem for me t his time around: I make the toffee, in low humidity circumstances (I now check the weather report to see what my local humidity is), pull the pot off the stove when the thermometer says 300-310. I pour the toffee into buttered pan and hold my breath. More often than not this year, the edges will harden but the center is grainy and soft.

Any suggestions?

Number one make sure you are using pure cane sugar. Sugar made with beets seems to have this problem. Next make sure your thermometer is correct by placing it in boiling water. It should read 212 degrees. I did this and my thermometer was off by ten degrees, I bought a new one that's right on the money. Another thing go buy some parchment paper and quit using the buttered pan method. No stick, quick easy clean up.

On December 11, 2009 at 06:28 PM, monkeymaze (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I just use a jelly roll pan rubbed down in butter for my toffee. And the trick is to NOT stir it TOO much or TOO fast or it will separate. Just move a wooden spoon around the sides of your pan very slowly. Once you start to see the amber color bubbling up in the middle of your pan then start watching your thermometer. You don't want the heat too low or it is going to take forever, too high and it will scorch. My Stove goes from Lo to 9 then High, I keep my eye on 7. When my mixture gets to 300 degrees I turn off the eye leaving the pot on the eye I stir the toffee slowly until it reaches 305-308 then I pour it onto the pan.

On December 12, 2009 at 12:34 PM, Yvie (guest) said...
Subject: Delicious!
For the most part, toffee recipes are pretty much the same. I have been looking for a toffee recipe to add to my collection of foods that I shouldn't be eating ... =) I made this and it's still cooling. I tasted a piece of toffee that was on my spatula... DELICIOUS! It was so yummy! This recipe is definitely a keeper and these instructions and pictures really help!!! =)

On December 12, 2009 at 02:44 PM, an anonymous reader said...
This is wonderful! We love it, but it's better with brown sugar than white.

On December 12, 2009 at 04:41 PM, radsman (guest) said...
Subject: Altitude grief!
I have been making a similar recipie for years. When we lived near sea level.. no problem. When we moved to Salt Lake City (4000 ft.) I had my first two batches seperate. I made some adjustments with ingredients and temperature and never had the problem again. We recently moved to Monument, CO... around 7000 feet. I've tried to make it 3 times and it fails each time. I was getting a lot of 'crystalization' around the edges on the first two batches, so I bought a all-clad pot which heats beautifully and almost eliminated the crystalization. I babied this batch to make sure it wouldn't fail.. but to no avail!. Seperation @ 240 deg. I'm going to try again with some fresh sugar and corn syrup. Maybe I'll stop stirring as the temp gets up... Any suggestions???

On December 14, 2009 at 12:51 AM, frankies coffee (guest) said...
Subject: Almond toffee
I'm going to try this resipe in the morning, may try using the espresso machine at coffee shop, think if will work quickly, will have to watch it not to make it foamy like a cappacino. But think I can do it in 1/3 the time and know I won't burn it. Going to be interesting, will try to let you know how it turns out.

On December 14, 2009 at 09:13 AM, B-Town Girl (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Results
Turned out great. here's what I did.

Followed the recipe except:
-I used brown sugar
-I added 2 tsp light Karo corn syrup.
-I added 2 more tsps of water early on in the cooking (total of 4) to smooth out and dissolve the sugar before bringing up the temp

Temp in my kitchen was around 70 and my humidity is relatively high- 88% reported on the weather here in Burlington, VT.

I used Domino light brown sugar and Cabot unsalted butter. I used a non stick TFal 4 qt saucepan without the lid.

I started out on a low temp (100 deg) for about 10 mins. Made sure the butter solids and fat didn't separate. Stirred a fair bit, but not what I'd call vigorously.

Raised the heat to low-med.

Once I saw that it was all smooth and couldn't taste any crystals when I tasted the spoon, I pretty much left it alone.

I raised it to medium heat and waited for the water to boil off. Brushed the side with a wet pastry brush.

Once the water boiled off and I noticed the temp start to rise again, I nudged the heat up just a bit more (6 out of 10 on my electric stove)

I had a nice bowl of cold water and ice cubes in it next to me to correlate with my candy thermometer. As it went through each stage, I took a bit and dripped it off the spoon into the ice water. (It was good to see how it progressed so when I want to make a softer candy, I'll know what it's supposed to look like) I took it off at hard crack - 300 deg.

I think the corn syrup and low initial temp helped. The careful rate of heat increase was important too. As was not fussing too much with it once it got past 260 deg.

It's cooling now and I'm going to break it up later once the chocolate sets more.

Cheers for the recipe and the comments.

On December 15, 2009 at 02:00 AM, Moshee (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
I've been making English Toffee since about 1980. I use a large cast iron dutch oven. 1 lb. of butter, 3 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water, 1/2 c. sliced almonds. Heat over HIGH heat, stirring constantly until desired color (lighter will result in softer candy and darker in a more hard candy). When I first learned to make this my girl friend told me to use my butcher block counter as a guide:))) I have never used a thermometer.
It will foam up and start turning brown very quickly when the water has cooked off. I then add 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour it in a large cookie sheet and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle one package of chocolate chips (more if you like a thicker chocolate topping) let the heat from toffee start to melt the chips for a min. or two. Spread over toffee. Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts. Refridgerate to cool and break into chunks.

On December 19, 2009 at 11:01 AM, iggydog (guest) said...
Subject: help...
OK I am trying to make Butter Toffee Coated Peanuts. Below is the recipe I have used. This site has helped tremendously w/the separation issues I was having. I finally got it so it didn't separate but it will NOT stick to the peanuts.

Does anyone have any idea what I can do to so it will actually coat the peanuts & not end up like a peanut brittle sort of blob?

Butter Toffee Peanuts Recipe

Ingredients You Will Need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons water
3 cups whole blanched peanuts

Butter a cookie sheet and set aside.

Use a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan to heat the sugar, butter and water. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, bring the mixture to 300 degrees. The temperature will rise sharply as the water is boiled off, so make sure youre using a candy thermometer. Once the sauce has reached the correct temperature, set your spoon down and do not stir. Remove the mixture from the heat immediately and dump in the nuts.

When the nuts are thoroughly coated, dump them onto the buttered cookie sheet. Separate the nuts so that they are not touching one another. When they have cooled, store them in airtight containers.

On December 19, 2009 at 10:37 PM, NANCY LYNN (guest) said...
Subject: Separation happens when you use un-salted butter!
Always use SALTED butter and you won't have any separation problems.

I have made English toffee many times using salted butter and it has turned out beautifully.

Last week I tried un-salted butter and it separated every time.


On December 22, 2009 at 11:02 PM, grayce (guest) said...
Subject: Yummy!
I've been reading this site and trying some of your recipes over the past couple of months with much success. I just love the explanations of "why" certain things in the kitchen happen and how to avoid them - both in the recipes that you post and in the discussion that occurs in the comments section of each.

Everything I've tried has worked out perfectly, so I thought I'd give your toffee recipe a shot since I'd encountered the separation problem as some of the previous posters have, using different recipes. It turned out just as lovely as the pictures you've posted - easy, delicious, and minimal ingredients, AND possible explanations of my separation problem which helped me to avoid it this time around. I was sure to go very slow this time, and used salted butter which a few others suggested, didn't use a thermometer but pulled it from the stove just as soon as it began to turn a peanut-buttery shade and it was as yummy as some I've gotten at the candy shop, maybe better because I was able to make it much thinner and with crushed pecans rather than almonds, just as I like it. This will be a new favorite to go along with the pralines I make every year for Christmas. Next recipe - standing rib roast on Christmas Eve with NO feelings of intimidation. :)

I appreciate the hard work you must put into this site and hope you continue to post new recipes - I look forward to trying them all.

Happy Holidays!

On December 23, 2009 at 12:49 PM, Tammy (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Seperation
This was my very first time making toffee and everything was going fine and it was starting to turn brown and then it started separating and I didn't know if this was normal or what was happening. I kept stiring but thought this doesn't look right and I was getting burned from the hot liquid that was landing on my hand. It was getting pretty dark so I took it off the burner and thought do I add the almonds and end up throwing the whole mess away when it isn't cheap to make or do I take a chance. I took a chance and added the almonds and stirred them in and then spooned the stuff into the buttered cookie pan and tried to spead the goey mess around and patted it down to try and thin it out and then I put the chocolate peices on and let them melt and spead them and then sprinkled the rest of the almonds on top. It looked good but I thought this is going to be bad. I got on the internet to see what I could find out and found out that it was a flop and I should have just thrown it out. But I let it cool and put it in the fridge for a little bit to harden the chocolate and then broke off a piece and it was really good. So I gave a piece to my husband and he loved it. So I don't know how mine turned out when I poured so much oil/liquid off of mine that was not incorporated in the toffee. Any ideas? I will try again but not sure how many with the cost.

On December 24, 2009 at 09:32 PM, hovawart (guest) said...
Subject: english toffee cooling surface
I made the toffee according to this recipe, but poured it out when it was slightly under 310F. The toffee poured onto cookie sheets is nice and crunchy, but the toffee poured onto marble is chewy. We're guessing that the marble cooled the toffee too quickly to make the crunchy crystalline structure.

BTW, we are at 3000' altitude.

On December 24, 2009 at 09:36 PM, hovawart (guest) said...
Subject: English toffee cooling surface postscript
Also, the toffee poured onto the marble slab cooled so quickly that the chocolate chips didn't melt, and I had to use an iron to melt them.

On January 09, 2010 at 11:48 PM, ah (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee is not DULCE DE LECHE
RE: Armando's posting :

"Good morning everybody! For Mr. Chu, toffee is also an old colonial dessert in the former spanish empire South American colonies, mainly Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Peru (since late 1700�s). For instance, it is called "dulce de leche" (literally, milk candy, in Argentina) or "manjar" (Chile) and is a very popular and frequent in both homes and restaurants. You can find "dulce de leche" in many presentations, including the ones developed in Cooking for engineers, and, more usual, as a more semi-liquid dessert, including "dulce de leche mousse" (superb!!). .."

I live in Argentina and have traveled to PERU and CHILE and tried both Manjar blanco and Ducle de leche and they are NOT brittle toffee but simply caramel spread. Living in Argentina I have never ever found anything resembling toffee. My husband who is Argentinean tried ALMOND ROCA and he said there nothing comparable to it here. What is very popular here is the caramel spread- Dulce De Leche- on everything!

I will be trying this recipe as I miss toffee! Hopefully the Argentines will like it as well.


On January 13, 2010 at 02:58 PM, Guest (guest) said...
Subject: Avoiding toffee separation...
My first experiences with this recipe produced glorious results. Then I moved from Chicago to North Carolina and couldn't successfully make the toffee to save my life. Without fail, it separated into an oily mess. A year later, I moved to Washington state and still couldn't produce a batch that matched my earliest successes.

I wasted countless pounds of butter and sugar trying to tinker with the method: using more water to melt the sugar; whirring the sugar in a food processor to reduce the grain size and make it dissolve faster; adding invert sugar (in my case, corn syrup or honey); higher heat; lower heat; more stirring; less stirring; less-vigorous stirring. You name it, I tried it - and all to no avail.

I thought I'd lost my toffee mojo, and told my friends to stop wishing and asking for more toffee, because I'd given up trying to make it.

Still, I continued to ponder what had happened. I finally decided that it had come down to one of two issues:

1. I successfully made the toffee on a gas stove in Chicago, but had access only to electric stoves in NC and WA.

- or -

2. I was using different pots once I moved away from Chicago.

If it was the former issue, my friends were to remain out of luck. I bought a house with an electric cooktop, and I wasn't about to change that just to be able to make toffee.

The latter issue seemed unlikely. Since moving away from Chicago (and my housemate's Calphalon pots), I had used both a Corning Visions (= plain tempered glass) pot and one of my own new Le Creuset pots. It didn't work in the Visions pot and the Le Creuset batch not only didn't work, but it wound up burnt on the bottom. Hardly a process improvement.

While I wasn't willing to invest in a gas cooktop, I thought I'd try a Calphalon pot. I found a reasonably inexpensive one (less than the cost of a pound of Vosges toffee!) at Amazon and bought it. My friends were hopeful this would do the trick...


My toffee mojo has returned, and I can now make it with impunity and at will.

Looking back, I suspect the Visions pot, which I used for all but ONE failed attempt, didn't have a sufficiently heavy bottom (all the toffee recipes I've ever seen prescribe the use of a "heavy-bottomed pan"). I still can't figure out why the Le Creuset pot didn't work - I can only guess that there was something else wrong with my method the only time I tried it with the Le Creuset pot.

Good luck!

On January 13, 2010 at 04:15 PM, Dilbert said...
candy making involves a lot of sugar type stuff - which melts at high temps and burns in the blink of an eye.

heavy sugar solutions also 'hold' a lot of heat and being rather viscous, heat does not move through melted sugar solutions all that quickly.

you'll like find copper pots in a dedicated candy making operation - it transmits heat quickly and evenly.

glass on the other hand is actually a pretty good insulator

this article:
outlines the "thermal" characteristics of various materials use in cooking

copper, which is except for silver, the best heat conductor - ranks at 401 [units]
glass ranks at 1.xx

you didn't mention what exact flavor of Le Creuset pot you used - they sell several different materials - however it the ref article you can see:

aluminum ranks at 237 [units]
cast iron ranks at 80 [units]

the Caphlon is most likely aluminum base / coated / whatever.

so you can see that in terms of "heating the schufft" evenly, cast iron is about 20% effective as copper, and aluminum about 50% as effective.

this may explain the woes experience in getting a 'pot full of sugar' mass up to temp without burning it or creating very localized hot spots within the sugar solution.

On January 15, 2010 at 02:07 AM, Maypo (guest) said...
Subject: Holiday gifts - Maybe I got lucky - Made 40 lbs.
So I didn't read all the posts here - didn't have time before Christmas. I just went back to take a look and maybe glad I didn't. I found 100 cellophane bags at the local paper wholesale for $9 and 300 yard spools of curly ribbon (green and red) for an equally low price. We filled 80 bags, 1/2 lb each and everybody was thrilled. Final cost including packaging was $2/lb. I just had a request from one of the kids teachers for a repeat and my son is using toffee to score points at school. Just did another batch tonight and no issues.

So here is the secret to my success:

Electric Stove - GE base unit with the home build - large burner
Faberware 10 inch stainless steel dutch oven type pot
3 inch wide wood stirring spatula
butter 12x18 cookie sheet with butter wrapper (parchment is waste)
break up Walmart butter into 1 inch chunks with spatula
add salt
melt butter at 6 o'clock until half melted (medium heat)
add cane sugar all at once - keep stirring!!!
move heat to 4 o'clock (medium high heat)
Cook stirring constantly in figure 8
use my Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer for temp (engineering tool)
at 200 degrees add almonds if desired-it toasts the almonds while cooking
cook stirring constantly to 290 degrees (I am at 6100 feet)
take off heat and stir for 1 minute to even out candy and temp
pore and spread on cookie sheet with wooden spatula
cool in refridge for about 10 minutes to 170 in center and 140 on edge
wipe off any extra surface butter with clean napkin
sprinkle nestle semisweet chocolate chips and spread with rubber spatula
sprinkle with almonds ground to mealy texture in blender
tamp down with flat bottom of glass
put in refridge for 10 minutes
twist pan and toffe pops loose - stick knife under and flip right in pan
wipe off butter on second side
melt other half of chocolate in double boiler
spread chocolate, sprikle ground almonds and tamp down
put in refridge for about 30 minutes until chocolate hardens to touch
break up on large cutting board with POINT of butcher knife
who cares about irregular pieces - we are going for flavor

recipe for this thick toffee is
1 lb salted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup almonds cut in half

covered with
2x 6 ounce of chocolate chips (6 oz per side)
1 cup ground almonds in blender

yeild: 3 lbs 4 ounces (just enough for 6 1/2 bags with munchy leftovers)

Out of about 10 batches, not one failure or seperation.
And by the way - it is dairy so you have to keep in refridge!!!
As far as long term storage - who knows - I can't keep it around that long.

Compare it to toffee grand junction colorado - you will be amazed....

How was that for an engineers view (I am sys engineer for switch company)

On January 18, 2010 at 07:45 PM, Omniryx (guest) said...
Subject: The toffee issues
Well, I'm not an engineer but I am a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, if that counts for anything.

Some thoughts here: My first thought is that you folks are overthinking the process. The separation comes from crystallization of the sugar. To avoid that, add a bit of invert sugar, baker's glucose, or plain old corn syrup. Be sure there are no grains of sugar stuck on the sides of the pan above the liquid level. Put a tight lid on the pan and do not take it off until the mixture has begun to boil. This will trap steam that will dissolve any sugar outside of the liquid. It is not necessary to stir. Stirring does not aid the process but it does increase the likelihood of crystallization. Use a candy thermometer and pull the heat at 295 as you will gain 5 degrees or so after you shut off the fire. Brown sugar, white sugar doesn't matter. The exact amount of water doesn't matter; more water = longer cooking time to reach the desired temperature. Oh, yes. And temper the chocolate before you put it on top.

Good luck and have fun.

On February 26, 2010 at 12:01 PM, midwestguy (guest) said...
Subject: success, I think
Thanks for this site. The photos and clear directions make the recipes easy to follow.

I just made this English toffee recipe for the first time. Some of the previous comments were helpful, but others were enough to make me think twice about making it.

Anyway, I think it's successful--it's cooling now on the back porch (winter in Iowa allows this to happen). There was no separation, but I think I might see how it could. I took the advice of combining the sugar, butter and water over very low heat on my gas range. That worked fine. I stirred the mixture but only now and then and not rapidly when I did.

When it all seemed to be combined, I turned the flame up to medium-high but noticed a little separation, so I turned it down to medium. The mixture seemed to do everything what Michael said (and showed in the helpful photos) what it would do. Perhaps mine did not bubble up or collapse as much as Michael's photos show but both steps did occur. I also used a candy thermometer and made sure I took if off the heat at about 318 degrees and then added the vanilla.

Hints: After reading the cane sugar/beet sugar discussion, I used pure cane sugar I had in the pantry (C&H Baker's Sugar). I also used unsalted butter (American, Land O'Lakes). I did not use corn syrup, as I didn't have any on the shelf. I did toast the slivered almonds before I started everything this morning.

By the way, where I cook in the Midwest is 955 feet in elevation. This is February in Iowa, so the humidity is a trace amount (although we have ,lots of snow and ice, we do not have humid winters).

I hope this helps anyone wanting to try this recipe for the first time.


On March 08, 2010 at 02:56 PM, johnboy (guest) said...
Subject: toffe with popcorn
Any advice on adding small chips of toffee with chocolate to popcorn??

On March 08, 2010 at 04:04 PM, Dilbert said...
Subject: Re: toffe with popcorn
johnboy wrote:
Any advice on adding small chips of toffee with chocolate to popcorn??

check this thread for ideas

On March 09, 2010 at 12:28 PM, craftygirl (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
The problem with melting the sugar in this recipe may have to do with how old your sugar is. I made my first batch of toffee with sugar that had been in my kitchen for at least 6 months. It was grainy. When I made the second batch, I used newly purchased sugar. It melted right away and the toffee was smooth.

Also, I think that the success in making English Toffee is related to how big the bottom of the pan is. If you use a narrower pan, there is less surface heat exposed to the mixture. It takes longer to cook, and that affects the result. If the pan is wider, the mixture is exposed to more surface heat and cooks faster. I am not an engineer, but this makes a difference. This is also a factor in making jams and jellies.

I think there are certain parallels between making toffee and jams. In both processes, the goal is to melt the sugar and evaporate off the water, allowing the liquified sugar to replace the water for texture. So, it is important to find that 'swwet spot' in which both the sugar is melted and the water is gone, with the other ingredients cooked 'just right'. With jam, the water should be evaporated and the sugar just melted, with minimal cooking to the fruit, otherwise it carmelizes and tastes bad. With toffee, the water should be evaporated and sugar melted, with the sugar carmelized to the point it is pleasing, not burned.

You have a great site. Keep up the good work!

On March 14, 2010 at 09:37 AM, Janis (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
:D A truly cosmopolitan experience. I shearched for toffee recipe's. I found a recipe for 'English Toffee". I am English, I have never made (or eaten) toffee like this. The recipe is written by someone with an oriental sounding name. Posted on a site that sounds and looks American. Oh by the way, I live in France. Truly cosmopolitan.

Les enfants enjoyed it very much. Thanks for a happy (global) experience. Our French neighbours have asked for the recipe. I gave them the site. Thanks again from Janis

On March 23, 2010 at 07:16 PM, DONT COOK IT TO FAST (guest) said...
DONT COOK IT TO FAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On April 04, 2010 at 01:35 AM, desertcook44 (guest) said...
Subject: Great site
I read and re-read the recipe (and many of great comments) about 15 times before I finally decided to dive in and try it myself. Got the butter at room temperature then melted it, the sugar and the water on the lowest of low flames. After that, proceeded as directed, stirring away. Eventually brought the temp up to 300 and it looked like it was starting to separate - so I lowered the temp, added a tablespoon of water and started stirring again. Got it back up without separating, poured it out onto an aluminum foil covered pan (oops! forgot the vanilla!) and believe it or not, it turned out perfectly. Perfect texture, perfect taste - I didn't miss the vanilla one bit and after cooling and refrigerating, it cracked beautifully into bite size chunks. All in all, I was amazed it worked. Now I just have to try and see if I can do it again! :)

On December 02, 2010 at 09:50 AM, shewentwest (guest) said...
Subject: Virginia vs Denver Please Help
I made this recipe in Virginia this past weekend for my Mom and it was wonderful. Now Im home in Denver and am having problems. I'm using the same type tools and a gas stove in both locations. The first two times I made it in Denver the separation occurred just after the water evaporated. The third time I made it I cooked it on extra low heat for about 15 minutes to mix the butter water and sugar very well then raised the temperature just a bit (still a med-low heat range) to reach 300 degrees and did brush the sides of the pan once with water after liquid started to form because I suspected it was beginning to separate. This time I had less liquid when done and the toffee did harden but was a grainy texture. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

On December 10, 2010 at 10:02 AM, jkinsc (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Recipe
As an engineer with an analytical mind, I found your detailed, illustrated instructions to be very complete and satisfying. So many cooking/recipe websites contain incomplete directions that I find them frustrating to use.

I made graham cracker toffee bars last night from a recipe from such a website. The toffee instructions were: bring to a boil over medium heat 3/4 cup each butter and brown sugar; boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Spread mixture evenly over a jellyroll panful of graham crackers then bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. My toffee ended up a bit soft and separated, although it tasted fine. I suspect that the 2 minutes of boiling did not allow the mixture to reach the 300 degree hard crack stage. I will use a candy thermometer next time!

Thanks again for the thorough instructions! I will visit this website often.

On December 11, 2010 at 12:32 PM, Frustrated in TX (guest) said...
Subject: Flat Top Stove
Has anyone successfully made toffee on a flat top stove? I have a similar recipe that I never had any problems with while cooking on an electric stovetop in California. I have since moved to Texas where I have a flat top stove. Every time I have attempted to make toffee since moving, the butter separates out of the sugar. I also tried making the toffee on my Mom's flat top stove in Montana and the butter also separated. I am at close to the same altitude in Texas that I was at in California. I also have only tried making toffee in the winter in Texas when the humidity is low so I do not think humidity is the issue. I use the same brands of ingredients and the same pans that I used in California. The only thing I can come up with is that the burner on the flat top stove is always kicking on and off and doesn't hold a steady temperature.

On December 14, 2010 at 11:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Waiting for Success or Fail!!
Waiting waiting waiting!
In reading these posts, I was trying to keep positive vibes in my head while I made this. It's cooling in the fridge.
I trusted my nose as I smelled some burning.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

On December 15, 2010 at 01:13 AM, Vicki (guest) said...
Subject: Can rainy days affect this recipe?
Yesterday-on a nice sunny day at 5500 feet above sea level, I made this toffee for a friend after I bragged about the recipe-it came out perfect and she loved it. This is the best recipe I have ever found for great toffee. I made another batch tonight that separated but after reading the posts, I think it is because I melted the butter and THEN added the sugar-oops! I'll mix it all together next time prior to melting. I am wondering though, if the rain we had today could have lent to the problem with the separation? Any thoughts on that?

On December 15, 2010 at 12:33 PM, heyjude.ransom36 (guest) said...
Subject: recipe for "English" Toffee
Been doing this for many (MANY) years for the folks for Christmas. I don't understand the function of H2O here. I use: 1 lb. butter (salted), 2 cups plain white sugar, good handful of blanched almonds, all in the pan at once. Stir over moderate/highish heat for about 25 min. Color will be peanut butterish. Pour out into old pie tins. Makes about 2 lbs per batch with almonds toasted within the recipe. I make about 12 - 16 lbs each season. And one batch will take two pie tins. Nothing could be easier or more delicious. Don't worry about separation - __it happens, and it will go back together - usually. YOU GOT IT!!

Heyjude in California

On December 23, 2010 at 12:45 PM, Susan B. (guest) said...
Subject: 14 for 14
I've made this toffee 2 different holiday seasons, and every batch has worked perfectly. I think the secret is to do everything slowly, and stir the hell out of the syrup as it gets to 300 degrees. I let the butter and sugar melt over almost the lowest heat my stove has and it takes some time, but the recipe always works. When I raise the heat, I keep it pretty low, just high enough so the syrup bubbles. It probably helps that I'm at sea level, too.

Anyway, the toffee is delicious, the texture good, and I plan to make it many more times.

On December 23, 2010 at 09:13 PM, bitter (guest) said...
Subject: Bitter Toffee
My mom and I made this recipe of toffee with almonds and walnuts. We followed the directions and made sure the candy thermometer worked. It looks delicious, however the toffee is bitter. What would cause that?

On December 28, 2010 at 02:44 PM, Gino (guest) said...
Subject: Success!
I've made toffee over the holidays for the past few years...but always with a bit of fear and trepidation...sometimes comes out great, sometimes not...problems with separation which doesn't happen if I add corn syrup but then too sticky...soooo this year I decided to sit down and actually figure out why...and I read this recipe and comments carefully and tried again...with success! I'm busy and impatient so this is what I did:

Heavy pan
Mixed the sugar with about 1/4 cup of water before adding to the 1/2 way melted butter...over LOW heat, which is the key everyone is emphasizing and so very true...remember I'm impatient so my heat was too high previously
I didn't stir often (thanks to new ipad distraction!) except at the very end when the temp rises quickly
My thermometer was MIA, so used my previous experience and when it got to that deep peanut butter color, pulled off stove
No separation, delicious! I store in a airtight container, room temp but doesn't last very long in this house.

Heavy pan
Melt butter part way and add dissolved sugar
Low heat for several minutes (follow recipe!)
Infrequent stirring, until the end
Thanks to all for the useful comments!

On January 02, 2011 at 07:57 PM, RG (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee Seperation
I use room temperature butter, place one teaspoon vanilla and one teaspoon of water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup white sugar......mix well and then turn the heat on. I use medium heat, a tested thermometer, and stir slowly most of the cooking process. I cook until 310 degrees and pour onto parchment paper in a baking sheet pan. I have not had any separation, and sold 200 batches this year. Including coffee flavored, and German chocolate with toasted coconut, toasted pecans and German sweet chocolate. I make single batches only. No large amounts, I think you lose quality to make quantity.

On January 21, 2011 at 07:13 PM, mpousard (guest) said...
Subject: toffee cooking at 6,000 ft. (high altitudes)
Having successfully made toffee in Los Angeles, CA for three decades, it has been a source of frustration to not achieve acceptable results in my new home located in the intermountain region of Utah. I understand that boiling temperatures are lower at this altitude, but I have experienced "separation" over and over again. I know to add a little water and stir to bring the mass back together, but as the temperature rises once more - separation sets in. Any suggestions?

On January 28, 2011 at 02:33 PM, Annie D. (guest) said...
Subject: separation
I am so hopeful somebody can help me. I have been making toffee for years without any challenges. A few times a had separation occur, but rarely. Yesterday I had to make several batches of toffee for a friend, and all 5 batches separated. I know I did EVERYTHING exactly as I always do...same pan, same spoon, same heat, same ingredients...It was so frustrating. I know many people on this site and others say it is because the sugar crystalizes or the butter melted at too high of a heat, but I did it exactly the same as always. Because I have been doing it for so long, I can almost do it in my sleep...not much effort is needed to have a successful batch. I was devastated to not be able to deliver for my friend. I am also starting a toffee business and have found commercial kitchen space to rent and everything, and we own a meat market which is the perfect venue for which to sell it. However, I have lost all confidence after what has happened yesterday. The ONLY thing different is that it was snowing quite hard here in Illinois and I am wondering if the moisture in the air is what affected the toffee. Nobody seems to write this as a challenge. Today I tried again and separation occurred again, but it wasn't as bad. It is not snowing today, but the air could still be moist. PLEASE advise me if you think this could be a reason for the toffee failure. I am going crazy trying to figure out what else it could be!!!

On January 28, 2011 at 05:38 PM, Dilbert said...
if you google "toffee separation" you'll find kazillions of opinions on how&why it happens.

the usually mentioned causes are:
bringing it to too high a temp
heating it too fast
too much / too little stirring (huh? - yeah, me too)
a rapid temp change - ie sudden cooling
humidity can be a factor - sugar is very hygroscopic - but this is more often a problem in warm humid weather - winter humidity is usually a lot lower.

if you're going into this on a professional scale, you'll need to be very rigorous with procedures / etc. a good thermometer, notes on how long it should take to heat up, heavy pots, starting ingredients at known/consistent temp, controlled workspace temp, etc.

I presume you're onto the use of corn syrup additives to cane sugar as a "catalyst" in preventing separation.

On March 25, 2011 at 06:06 PM, oaklets (guest) said...
Subject: after 3 failures, success!
Yesterday I made 3 bad batches of toffee (using a different recipe) before finding this site! The first 2 I made separated, and the 3rd was grainy. I read posts here for over an hour, and tried again today. 2 successful batches in a row. Here's my input:

I followed this recipe pretty closely, but added 2 teaspoons of corn syrup. I kept my heat low, and didn't stir until the butter and sugar had melted together. I used a wet pastry brush to wipe the sides of the pan when sugar splashed up there. While the mixture was boiling, I stirred gently with a wooden paddle. I cooked the toffee until it was a bit over 300', and it turned out a beautiful dark brown, crisp snap, and not grainy.

Thank you for all the input!

Low humidity, cool kitchen
about 100 ft above sea level

On March 25, 2011 at 06:12 PM, oaklets (guest) said...
Subject: ingredients! I forgot!
I went to the market and bought pure cane sugar. Yesterday I was using a bargain brand and it did not specify cane sugar. I also used Land o' Lakes butter, salted, and also added some salt to the mixture.

On July 20, 2011 at 03:43 PM, stephaniehayes (guest) said...
Right now I am waiting for my finished candy to cool for 20 minutes so I can refrigerate it, but sadly I think I burnt it. Mine turned a dark brown before it even reached 300, I kept the heat on low before everything melted and when It melted I followed directions and raised the temperature to medium-high, my toffee then turned a darkish brown. When I added the vanilla extract later the toffee began to splatter. But it still hasn't been tasted yet so lets hope for the best!

On July 20, 2011 at 06:12 PM, Michael Chu said...
stephaniehayes wrote:
Right now I am waiting for my finished candy to cool for 20 minutes so I can refrigerate it, but sadly I think I burnt it. Mine turned a dark brown before it even reached 300, I kept the heat on low before everything melted and when It melted I followed directions and raised the temperature to medium-high, my toffee then turned a darkish brown. When I added the vanilla extract later the toffee began to splatter. But it still hasn't been tasted yet so lets hope for the best!

What type of thermometer did you use? It sounds like it's inaccurate or very slow because for sugar to caramelize it has to reach over 330°F.

On August 05, 2011 at 11:51 AM, summer (guest) said...
Subject: Toffee
I have been making ALmond Toffee for decades, and I have read all your comments, and I agree, I do use karo, low heat and a good thermometer, I pour into disposabke pans because i use a small hammer to braek up the toffee. What I have noticed is that no one mentioned freezing. I keep in freezer. I can make ahead of time for the holidays.

On August 05, 2011 at 08:10 PM, dency (guest) said...
I have no instant read thermometer or candy thermometer. Can I still make this toffee?

On August 06, 2011 at 11:13 AM, Dilbert said...
yes - see:

it may take some practice to learn the various "stages" - but that's how they did it in in 'the good old days'

On September 15, 2011 at 09:34 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: How to make a toffee mould
Someone asked how to make nice regular shapes? Well I made butterscotch toffees the other day, and without my lollie moulds I was a bit lost and did some experimenting and came up with this:

- Take a baking dish like a lasagne dish and fill it with icing sugar, about 2cm or an inch high, and pack firmly
- Using a rounded tea spoon, like a measuring spoon - or any shaped item, a finger will do! - press into the icing sugar, evenly spaced. Don't cram them too close or you will disturb the dip/hole next to it and get uneven shapes, and don't go too deep either or it will stick to the dish!
- When ready, spoon your toffee into your mould (dips, holes whatever!). The toffee won't stick to the icing sugar and will run into the moulds nicely - but toffee is super hot and this is tricky work! Wear long sleeves and keep cold water near by if you get burned.
- Let it cool, then remove from the sugar to store.

I left mine in the sugar too long and it went a bit soft!

On November 20, 2011 at 08:31 PM, Juliana L. (guest) said...
Subject: Separation
I've used this recipe a number of times before and never had any trouble (except the time I was trying to do two things at once and not paying enough attention) before today.

It took a couple tries before I figured out that it was the vanilla causing the separation. I'm using a different brand and it's a relatively humid day, so I suppose there could be several factors at work. Either way, I added the vanilla early and the third batch came out fine.

On November 20, 2011 at 09:40 PM, Superbaker (guest) said...
Subject: English Toffee
This recipe is perfect!! The first time it didnt come great because I didn't have a candy thermometer and didn't cook it long enough. This time I cut the recipe in half and used a small circulon frying pan on med-hi heat and used a slotted metal spoon stirring constantly which kept it from separating. I sprayed a cookie sheet with Pam and when it thickened and turned a buterscotch color I poured it onto the pan and spread it out. Turned out fantastic!!!!! Thanks so much.

On November 24, 2011 at 02:19 PM, theresabaker (guest) said...
Subject: high altitudes
Thank you for a great site with technical answers to cooking problems. I am a professional baker and I have moved from Charleston, SC to southern Colorado. I now live at about 8500ft. I have made this recipe four times in the last week. Each time I have experienced complete seaperation at 230 degrees. Each time I have been able to bring the mixture back by adding water (1/4 c) and stirring until it comes back together. The water brings the temp back down to 202 degrees and then it will break again at 230-240 degrees. This will happen several times and at around 270 degrees I give up and pour it over the almonds. Each time the end result is very good. Unfortunately this process takes almost 2 hours of constant attention.
I melt the butter (great value) and sugar (c&H) together very slowly-almost 20 mins with 2 T water and 1 T corn syrup and 1/2 t salt.
I turn the heat up to low and cook till it boils, about 15 mins.
It will boil for about 20 mins then completely seperate at 230 degrees.
I use an all clad pot. I have a flat top stove and I am at 8500Ft. Any suggestions or comments from those living at really high alt. would be appreciated.

On November 27, 2011 at 12:04 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I just made this, following the instructions exactly, and it came out perfect! I live about 1,000 ft. above sea level, and said the humidity today was 54%, if that helps. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!

On November 30, 2011 at 01:14 PM, EngineerMark (guest) said...
Subject: Perfect Toffe at 5820 Ft. (a mile high)
I have a recipe perfected and it just doesn't seem to be any issue of seperation unless I don't pay attention to the following.

1. I use a stainless steel farberware 10" dutch oven and a 4" wide wooden stirring paddle with the 4" flat edge able to stir the bottom of pan in about 3 swipes.

2. I use an electric stove with the large caldron at 4 o'clock (medium high). This is pretty hot so you need to keep moving.

3. Recipe is a simple 1 lb. Costco Butter, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 3/4 c&h sugar.

4. Turn on the burner to 4 o'clock. Unwrap the butter - I use the wrapper for greasing a 11x17 cookie sheet (Walmart has great commercial version for about $9)

5. Put butter in pan off heat and break into as small a pieces as you can stand with the wooden spatula. Put the pan on the heat AND START STIRRING. Good to have your sugar and salt premeasued. Melt the butter about half way wile stirring (if you don't stir - everything will seperate later). Add the sugar AND KEEP STIRRING. This is the most critical part - if you dont stir from cool butter and keep up the constant stir as you incorporate the butter you WILL get seperation. When all butter is melted and you hit 190-200 degrees add a cup of almonds if you like right into pan (by the way - did i say keep stirring).

6. Being a true engineer, I use a Fluke 62 IR Thermometer for exact temps. Once you get to the boiling stage at about 200, the period from 200-250 is not quite as critical (but you must keep up a constant stir). If the stirring didn't happen earlier, I have found there is seperation as you move through, but with a constant figure 8 and side pan scraping, the trek to 295 degrees is just a constant stir with quick checks of temp. Within about 10 minutes you will hit 295 degress - I pull just a little early as the toffee is still cooking. The pan is hot enough at this point if you let it sit without stirring it will burn. So pull off heat and stir for about a minute until the pan cools just enough to stop cooking.

7. Pour quickly onto 11x17 pan. I use the wooden spatula for initial spread and the get a standard table teaspoon and us the back to scrape off the extra candy off the wooden spatula and do final spread into the corners.

8. So if you want chocolat on top, wait for the center of the surface to cool to 180 (man is the fluke useful). At that point, take a paper towel and wipe the surface of any butter on top. The product will be hot but workable. There shouldn't be much butter on top.

9. Sprinkle 5 ounces of chocolate chips and then spread. Sprinke with nuts ( I actually blend almond for about 10 seconds). Tamp down with the base of a glass. Let it cool (I put it in the fridge for a while).

10. You can break it up at this point, but you can also flip the product in a second pan, melt 5 ounces of chocolate in double boiler, spread with a rubber spatula and sprikle again with nuts.

Toffee is a labor of love and for about 20 minutes it needs 100% of your attention. If you don't incorporate the butter early, it will seperate. If you stick with it, cook it at a reasonable high temp and keep up the stirring, it turns out perfect every time.

On November 30, 2011 at 03:10 PM, Jim Cooley said...
WOW! EngineerMark gets a gold star. That gets printed out an put in Joy of Cooking. THANKS!

On December 07, 2011 at 06:15 PM, Jarrod said...
Subject: My experience
My Mom's family has been making a similar recipe for at least three generations. Ours calls for 1.5C of butter to 2C of sugar (and no vanilla), so it yields not quite twice what author's recipe does.

I've screwed up plenty of batches in my years but it was never due to separation but rather burning the butter. Since I began doing it in a heavy-duty aluminum sauce pan (heavy on the sides and bottom, not just the bottom), I've not had any problems. I find I get more consistent results if I don't stir too much. I stir a lot at the start until the sugar is fully dissolved and the butter is fully melted, and again at the end, at about 275deg through the finished product to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom. In between it only gets stirred a few times.

We give this as holiday gifts - my wife's family looks forward to it every year. Over the years I have modified the preparation to make what is in my opinion a more professional presentation.

I butter a jelly roll pan and cover it with around 3oz of slivered almonds. This goes 4" under the broiler (on low setting - our GE Profile range has two broiler temps) and the almonds get toasted for precisely 1min, 40sec. The pan comes out and goes onto a cooling rack.

The candy is cooked to hard crack, and poured over top of the toasted almonds. This is left to cool at room temp for exactly 7 minutes, just until it starts to set up. I then use a metal scraper to press-cut the candy into ~1.5inch squares. Once the candy is completely cooled, it comes right out of the pan with a spatula.

Once the candy squares have cooled all the way to room temp, I fill my double-boiler with a pound of chocolate (my preference is a 50/50 mix of milk and semisweet - Ghirardelli when I can get it) and a piece of paraffin that's about the size of your pinky. One by one, each toffee square is submerged in the melted chocolate and retrieved with a pair of tongs. Drain the excess chocolate for a few seconds and then carefully place the finished product on waxed paper to cool. This goes in the fridge for an hour or more to completely cool.

On chocolate: I've played with tempering chocolate by several methods, using really high-end chocolate, using special "melting chocolate", etc. In my hands, paraffin combined with a decent-quality chocolate is hands down the way to go. No fussing, no mess, no blooming, no sticky chocolate coating.

This method is more labor-intensive but the result is very professional, highly reproducible, and of course DELICIOUS). Having the chocolate completely covering the toffee allows you to keep the candy out, at room temperature, for at least a couple of weeks, with no ill effects though it doesn't usually last that long!

On December 13, 2011 at 02:50 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: came out perfectly!
I used this recipe today and it worked exactly as described. It is moderately dry here because it's winter + our heat is on, but it isn't "southwest US" dry because I'm in Georgia. The temperature indoors is 71.

I followed the directions exactly, except I began on "2" out of 10 and only ever got as high as "4". I used 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar because of what I had on hand. I stirred regularly (i.e. about every 5 seconds) throughout the entire process, and on the whole it was about 10 minutes of cooking.

I did not have a candy thermometer (d'oh) so I knew I was going out on a limb, but I just took it off the heat after it was slightly browner than when I started and visibly quite thick. I forgot to add vanilla, but I didn't miss it in the final product. I didn't have any chocolate, so I sprinkled some dark cocoa over the hot toffee and it added just a little chocolate taste (but isn't necessary).

The only thing I would change next time is that I would have scored the hot toffee to make breaking easier. The thickest parts were quite difficult to break once it was cooled.

On December 18, 2011 at 05:09 PM, Susan (guest) said...
Subject: Thanks for all the tips!
I made my first batch just before Thanksgiving--and it came out perfectly. Made another today, and it separated. I read carefully all the advice here, and today's second batch came out great.

My variation is to add some finishing salt ("fleur de sel") on top of the melted chocolate for a different touch that our family likes.

On December 24, 2011 at 06:32 PM, vlsullivan (guest) said...
Subject: Making candy at altitude
Yes, how high your kitchen is (in the geographic sense) has a great deal to do with candy making. I grew up and learned to cook on the East Coast. Now I live in Albuquerque (roughly 5,500 feet where I am). Water boils at 200 degrees, not 212 degrees as it does at sea level. This is not insurmountable if you use a candy thermometer and calibrate it as follows.

Place a pot of plain water on the stove, preferably the same pot you plan to cook the candy in or one similar. Set your candy thermometer in place and bring the water to boiling at a similar setting to what you plan to use. when the water boils vigorously (not a few bubbles here and there) note the temperature on your candy thermometer. Subtracting the temperature you get from 212 (sea level boiling point) gives you the correction you need to make in every recipe. Water boils at 200 degrees in my kitchen, so the correction factor is 12 degrees. If a recipe calls for 300 degrees, I know I should cook until 288 degrees (300-12) for the recipe to work for me.

For those engineers who are new to candy making, be aware that a glass candy thermometer must be placed so the bulb is fully in the boiling mixture, but NOT touching the bottom of the pan! The one I use has a glass tube in a metal housing that forms a step beneath the bulb, preventing the glass from hitting the pan.

Hope this is precise enough. VLS BA English 1969, MLIS 1989.

On December 30, 2011 at 08:21 AM, Koama (guest) said...
Subject: Salvaging a failed batch
<b>Don't Throw That Mess Away!</b>

What you can do if your batch fails. Make them into <b>Chocolate Almond Cookies.</b>

I've made a lot of batches, usually with success.

I recently tried to make a double bactch in a larger pot. I doubled the butter to 1 lb. and added 3 cups of sugar. In lieu of my usual corn syrup, I used a little maple syrup because it was leftover from breakfast.

The larger size required a larger pot. The batch went very granular on solidifying. The toffee base was very white in color. It was hard (not chewy) but definitely granular and definitely not toffee. It already had the chocolate and nuts on it. I decided to make use of all this good stuff and make cookies.

It required a little experimentation, making some dough and baking 1 cookie, adjusting, and baking more.

Here's the general recipe.

Take the failed batch and put it into the food processor, grind it up into a paste. This becomes your sugar/flavorings and more than half the butter for your cookies.

In the standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream a small amount of unsalted, room temperature butter (half to 3/4 stick) until fluffy. Add in your paste a little at a time until incorporated. Add 1 egg and a little vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together about 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixer a little at a time, till mixed.

Toast some almonds, cool, and grind them up well in food processor with a little sea salt (to taste).

With a spoon, take some of the cool dough and roll into ball about 1 T to 1.5 T in size. Roll ball of dough in ground nuts. Place on parchment or silpat on cookie sheet and press down to flatten to about 3/4 inch thick.

Bake at 375 F for about 12-15 mins, rotating pan halfway through, until cookie is medium-browned around edges.

Cool on sheet on cooling rack for 2-4 mins to set and then carefully remove cookies to rack to cool further.

Experiment with more or less flour or butter to get the right consistency.

I started with just a portion of my aborted batch of toffee so that I could tweak it as I went along. Good Luck.

On January 01, 2012 at 01:14 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Love you technocooks.
Absolutely fascinating! I Googled English toffee recipes, spotted this one as seeming to have a lot of useful detail, scrolled down and became entranced by the long technical discussions that followed, was terribly impressed by the continued experimentation and careful reporting of results, realized eventually "These are not normal cooks!" and only then discovered that I was reading "Cooking for Engineers."

No wonder.

Looking forward to techie toffee-making!


On January 02, 2012 at 01:45 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: My report: Separated AND turned out fine
Environmental factors: 5500 feet elevation; very low humidity.

Tools: 4-quart copper-bottomed stainless steel pan, wooden spoon, useless thermometer, small bowl of cold water.

Ingredients: Sugar: evaporated cane juice. Used salted butter, added no salt. Vanilla 35% alcohol content. 2 tablespoons water, somewhat alkaline: pH approx. 8. Chocolate chips, 45% cacao content. Almonds, unblanched, chopped. Incidentally, all ingredients are organic, so we may pretend the result is healthful to ingest.

Heat source: Propane-fueled stove.

Cooling surface: Ordinary old flat metal cookie sheet, coated with butter and finely divided almonds.

Process employed and reactions observed: I heated butter, sugar and water together over very low flame, stirring occasionally. The mixture began to boil while still over low flame. I continued to stir occasionally. The mixture took on a thick, spongy texture as the temperature rose. Not trusting the candy thermometer, especially as the mixture began to clump and pull away from it, I used the cold water test (frequently dropping a small spoonful of mixture into cold water and observing its texture when cooled). Suddenly, shortly after the "firm ball" stage, it separated. I continued stirring and testing; "hard crack" was reached at the same time as the desired color change.

I poured off the separated fluid (clarified butter) and stirred in vanilla, whereupon further separation occurred and I poured again. Although it seemed to have "completely separated" I measured the fluid and it was only 1/3 cup, so either the butter was 2/3 water or some was incorporated into the toffee after all.

I continued as directed, with excellent results! It's delicious; the texture is perfect, crisp and not grainy; separation didn't set it back a bit. The only advice I can add to the wisdom already accumulated here is to just pour off the separated-out butter before spreading the toffee, and see what you get. (You may find a use for the clarified butter, too.)

It will be interesting to try more batches and mess with all the variables. I don't doubt that corn syrup helps, but my partner is seriously allergic to it.


On January 02, 2012 at 02:01 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Forgot to mention pan inside diameter was 17 cm. I would have used my narrower one but had just used it to fry bean threads in hot oil (a cooking adventure no one should miss).

On February 22, 2012 at 04:40 PM, Maury (guest) said...
I wonder if its okay to use salted butter and then noit add salt to the recipe????

On February 22, 2012 at 05:22 PM, Dilbert said...
the amount of salt in "salted" vs "not salted aka sweet" is virtually ignorable.

On February 24, 2012 at 02:51 PM, Michael Chu said...
Dilbert wrote:
the amount of salt in "salted" vs "not salted aka sweet" is virtually ignorable.

Not exactly. With the amount of butter used in this recipe, there can be as much as 2 to 4 grams of salt (depending on the brand) contributed by the salted butter. That's actually a lot more than I call for in this recipe, so if you use salted butter, don't add anymore. The final result will be saltier than the recipe I present here, but you might like that. Personally, I'm a bit fan of savory sweets.

On another note, because of the huge differences between salt content in different brands (Kerrygold usually has only 1g salt per 4-oz weight stick while Horizon reported has as much as 2.3 g for the same stick), we like to use unsalted butter in our recipes so the result is as repeatable as possible when different people (with different brands of butter in different markets and regions) attempt the same recipe.

On February 27, 2012 at 01:41 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I have no experience as a chef or baker, or any kind of food preparation expert what so ever. I really love English toffee, though, and thought it might be fun if my girlfriend and I could try to make some. Is this a pretty easy thing to pull off, or is it easy to burn or mess up? Also, I live at around 7,000'. Will this be a factor?

On November 16, 2012 at 07:12 AM, Shonmarie (guest) said...
Subject: Freezing Toffee
I made my first batch of this toffee yesterday and it was perfect! Problem is, it didn't last through the evening - it just disappeared! I'm making another batch today and would like to know if I can freeze it, well wrapped, in an airtight container. I'd like to keep it until Christmas as I might not have much more time to make another batch. Any advice would be appreciated.

On November 16, 2012 at 10:52 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Freezing Toffee
Shonmarie wrote:
I made my first batch of this toffee yesterday and it was perfect! Problem is, it didn't last through the evening - it just disappeared! I'm making another batch today and would like to know if I can freeze it, well wrapped, in an airtight container. I'd like to keep it until Christmas as I might not have much more time to make another batch. Any advice would be appreciated.

I've kept toffee bagged or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for over a month without people complaining about a texture problem. To my taste, it isn't quite as good as serving the next day, but it seemed to be very good. I have not tried freezing yet.

On November 16, 2012 at 04:31 PM, Shonmarie said...
Thanks, Michael. I'm making more tomorrow and will "test" freeze it. Since my family devoured the first batch, they can be the testers when I take it out of the freezer. I'll let you know what happens!

On November 18, 2012 at 03:13 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I absolutely adore this website. I'm married to an engineer and I am quite analytical myself. The way the recipes are explained and presented are exactly what I need.

I've made this recipe for toffee many times over. (24 batches just last year around the holidays to give away as gifts. Yes. You read that right. 24 batches.) I have a few hints that some people may find helpful.

I use a wooden spoon with a flat bottom to scrape the bottom of my saucepan as I stir. I like salted butter (Land O Lakes brand) because I like the savory sweet flavor. I also use the best quality vanilla I can find. (Mine is from Mexico) I like semi-sweet chocolate (again, a little less sweet) though some people prefer milk chocolate. On some batches I use almonds and on some batches I use pecans.

The biggest thing that has helped me is the invention of the non-stick foil. I place that on my baking sheet with no need to make a mess with the butter on the back of the parchment paper rolling up on me and making me crazy.

This is the best recipe I have found for toffee anywhere and I have received many many compliments on it! Everyone is crazy for this toffee! Best of luck to you. I've had a few mishaps so no worries if you do! Once you make it a few times, you'll get a 'feel' for it and won't even need the thermometer any more.

Happy cooking!

Midland, TX

On December 01, 2012 at 04:08 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Love your site
I use this recipe for English Toffee every year - because it WORKS! Please don't ever take it down. Thank you for taking the time to post the recipe with all the steps included. My English Toffee always tanked, year after year, until I tried your method.

Many thanks, Mary

On December 03, 2012 at 12:48 PM, singthepoems (guest) said...
Subject: never-fail toffee!
This is by far the best toffee recipe I've ever found. The detailed instructions and descriptions make it virtually foolproof. I've had failures with other toffee and candy recipes, but this one has been successful every time I've followed it (and that's a lot of times; I've been making this toffee every few months for at least 4 years). I include it in my holiday gift-giving every year, and everyone who gets some says the same thing: "You MADE this? No way!" and then raves about how good it is.

On December 11, 2012 at 05:54 PM, sandstress (guest) said...
Subject: Thank you!
After reading most of the coments here, I was able to finally get my toffee right.

First, my old recipe only had me bring the temperature up to 285, and pour into a 13x9 pan which left it thicker. Also, 2 out of three times I'd make it, the toffee would have an odd crystallized texture.

So, I took the recipe from here, and from the lovely coments other people, I added one tsp of vinegar, and 1/2 tbsp corn syrup to it. I melted the butter and sugar together with the vinegar, water and corn syrup over a low heat. I made sure all of the crystals were completly disolved before bringing it to a boil. I think pouring it thin over a cookie sheet was a great improvement.

I also believe that humidity does play a big factor in in the texture. So I cranked up the heat and turned on the oven and made sure not to do this on a rainy day.
It is by far the best toffee I have ever made. Thanks so much!

On November 26, 2013 at 09:53 PM, Sonia (guest) said...
Subject: toffee or not toffee
When I first came across this site and recipe last winter, I went no further than the instructions, and proceeded to make about 8 variations (all types of chocolate, nut, fruit combos) as well as the original.
They all came out perfect.
Recently, my students asked if I would make it again, so I came back and scrolled down and "ooh, comments-let me read them..."
and the two batches I just made, yep, separated. Blast!!I just drained off the butter, and went ahead. The flavor isn't the same, not as rich, but I doubt the kids will care, since I just loaded the tops with extra chocolate and nuts.
They are cooling now, I'll see what happens when I break it up.
I am at sea level. It is humid out, maybe that's why.
In any case, a hearty albeit belated thank you for the recipe!
Love the website.

On December 01, 2013 at 05:27 PM, Brenda (guest) said...
Subject: butter separating
This is a great recipe. I had some trouble with butter separating. The simple and obvious reason was that I used a skillet instead of a sauce pan. But- so what? I figured out that the heating area has to match the size of the pan. If the burner element or flame is a small diameter under a large diameter pan- it separates. Using a large burner of flame at suitable heat means you can make this in a skillet and easily double the batch without problem.

On December 06, 2013 at 11:30 AM, MissJubilee (guest) said...
Subject: Recent toffee
Well, I read through quite a few of the comments, and it was helpful in my toffee-making this evening. I do wish it had gone a little faster, but given the trouble and expense of buying new ingredients at 11pm, I guess it's worth the extra time! I've had it separate in the past, but these two double-batches turned out fine.

The recipe I use isn't quite this one; it's an old family recipe which I've never heard of giving trouble to my dad or grandmother, and I am now feeling more confident in it myself. It uses half butter and half margarine, as well as a little water and corn syrup, which I now feel I understand a little better (whereas in the past I would wonder why I was putting them in!) :)

On December 08, 2013 at 05:41 PM, Scottie13 (guest) said...
Subject: Perfect toffee every time
I found this recipe 3 or 4 years ago and had the same separating problem everybody else has had. I read through the comments and tried a few of the techniques recommended to stop this problem. I finally came up with my own solution.

Cream all the ingredients together in a mixer first. Then put the creamed mixture in the sauce pan on low heat. Let it all completely melt together, no need to stir. Once it is all melted together than increase the heat and follow the recipe to finish, although I don't stir it much at all. My pan tends to get a little hotter around the edges and I assume on the bottom so my stirring is just enough to get it to mix and cook evenly.

Since applying this technique I have had ZERO failure, regardless of the weather, room temperature, humidity or elevation.

On December 12, 2013 at 03:22 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Very good! I made it plain because I didn't have any chocolate chips on hand and it was still delicious. I also just poured it onto a regular cookie sheet with lots of butter and it was easy to unstuck from the pan. Thanks for the great recipe!

On December 21, 2013 at 11:25 PM, Indy kevin (guest) said...
Subject: Simplify
Looking for alternate recipes, I came upon this forum. I found a few that included milk, which was my intent. I've been making this toffee for about 15 years. This recipe came in a complimentary cook book from Litton Microwave Adapting Recipes. Not as cockle warming as dear ole Mum. After reading about 2 years of post and skipping to the last few on this forum, I didn't see references to the microwave. I used to follow the recipe to the "T" with varying result and separating. Here goes simplified...
put 8 minutes on the microwave on high. Melt the butter for about a minute and add about 1 cup dark brown sugar. This should be a microwave safe container about three times the size of contents. Return to the micro about three or four minutes. it should be foamy. Once the foam settles (about 30 seconds) if there's any oil on top add a little sugar at a time to absorb the oil. If when settled it looks grainy or dry add butter a little at a time until the candy looks silky. I have even found that a slight layer of oil on top usually doesn't hurt. It makes no difference to mix in crystals on the side of container. Return to microwave and continue heating to hard crack. That is the most unsimplified part. You have to watch it doesn't pass the hard crack stage to which is stinking burnt. the microwave gets there fast and continues upward for about 15 seconds after it's removed from the oven. Checking with a thermometer takes the guess work out of it. Checking temperature often doesn't hurt the end result. Using a small cheap digital candy thermometer I deem it's ready at 300 degrees, rising about 15 more by the time it's ready to pour. Pour on to about 1/2 cup chopped pecan spread evenly on my granite table top. Sprinkle about 12 cup of chocolate chips. Wait a few minutes and spread around the chocolate. In retrospect, you've actually cooked less than 8 minutes (Double batches don't even use this much cook time). You'll spend more time prepping and cleaning I've found trying to describe this method more complicated than the actual doing. This maybe the wrong forum because there is really not much engineering here. Have to go and clean the sugar off my keyboard now.

On December 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM, beebs (guest) said...
Subject: Thank you, Mr. great!
My favorite candy as a kid was always "Heath Bars", so I've always wanted to try to make it myself, but never had the confidence. After reading the comments about separation, I was still apprehensive, but I decided to try this recipe, and was glad I did: it turned out perfectly.

I made only a couple of "tweaks" to your excellent procedure:

When I added the vanilla, I also added a 1/2 tspn of Almond Extract.

Poured the toffee out onto buttered foil in cookie sheet.

Used Ghiarardelli's "Dark Melting Wafers" for chocolate. Divided the 12 oz bag in two parts, applied the first half as per your instructions. After the 1/2 hour fridge time, I laid a sheet of foil over the now solid sheet of toffee, turned the whole thing over, peeled the base foil off, nuked the second half of the chocolate wafers, spread them, and after applying the almonds, put it back in the fridge for another half hour. Chocolate and almonds on both sides.

And as far as almonds go: I roasted some sliced (rather than slivered) almonds beforehand and allowed them to cool, and then put them into the food processor for a couple of short pulses, to create some variation in texture from full slices to some "dust". Worked great, they stuck to the chocolate well, and the roasted almond taste blends with the toffee perfectly.

Had no problems with separation. I did everything over low heat in a vintage copper-bottomed Revere-Ware stainless pan; used a silicone spatula, took my time, and gradually raised the heat. Didn't stir all that often, used a candy thermometer. The sugar and butter browned just right by the time it hit 310 degrees.

So thank you for a recipe that works!

On July 18, 2014 at 04:57 PM, julieroz12 (guest) said...
Subject: time
I am about to make my first batch of toffee, I am a little concerned about all this talk about separation - crystallization. I am a pretty good cook but not a gourmet chef. can anyone tell me the approximate length of time for this cooking process to take place :shock:

On July 18, 2014 at 06:06 PM, Dilbert said...
per the recipe
"heat until 300F (150C) while stirring"

if you are using a candle to cook with, it'll take a while.
if you are using an ox-acetylene torch, it'll go real quick.

using a cooktop, somewhere in the middle.

On July 18, 2014 at 11:54 PM, Michael Chu said...
It takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to cook a batch of toffee. These days, I go fast because I make a lot each Halloween to give out (and other random times of the year). Because I'm running on medium to medium-high heat, my toffee almost always breaks (separates) as it approaches the 300°F point, but I've worked out a solution for this. I keep about a cup of boiling water ready (I use an electric kettle while I'm bringing the toffee up to temperature) and then when it separates, I splash in some boiling water (I'd estimate about 2 oz or so) and stir like mad. Be careful when adding the water and when starting the stirring as you might splash the liquid butter if you are too vigorous at first. Once it starts to come back together, just stir like crazy and it'll be uniform again. Since boiling water is much cooler than the toffee, you will have to cook it a bit longer to bring it back to 300°F, but I've never had it separate a second time. I take it off the heat at that point and stir in the vanilla extract.

On October 30, 2014 at 09:29 AM, JJA (guest) said...
I didn't see this in prior posts, so if this a repeat, sorry.
For those having separation problems, try adding 1g lecithin granules per 100g sugar and butter. We made 22 batches in two days in my classroom and not one separates.
Separation may occur because of the fat content variations in butter(too low and too much retained milk), but is most likely from uneven heating and lack of stirring CONSTANTLY early in the process.
Try lecithin.

On October 30, 2014 at 11:55 AM, Jim Cooley said...
That's a good suggestion. Need to get some of that for other purposes too. Back in the day, PAM spray had lecithin in it and I thought it worked better than today's variety.

On June 13, 2015 at 10:33 PM, Darthlederer (guest) said...
Subject: Maple toffee
I have been trying to find a recipe that uses only butter, sugar, maple syrup, chocolate and almonds. The chocolate and almonds are easy but the ratio of the other ingredients is kind of a wild guess. I am trying to make it as good as some I tried at a one of a kind show into ontario.

On September 02, 2015 at 11:10 PM, divinny said...
Thanks ! The best toffee recipe for sure

On December 11, 2015 at 09:55 AM, ddp30121 (guest) said...
Subject: Chocolate topping on Toffee
What's the secret to get the chocolate not to come off when breaking the toffee?

On December 18, 2015 at 01:18 AM, JimC (guest) said...
Subject: 300 is too hot
I've made toffee for years and always stop at 285 F. It is brown by then and hardens nicely. All these stories about crystallizing and separating make me think you are getting too hot.

On January 03, 2017 at 03:12 PM, lfountain (guest) said...
Subject: This was amazing!
I watched my son whip this up in a matter of minutes and it was phenomenal! Highly recommended. Gobbled up at the holiday party.

On January 10, 2017 at 05:53 PM, Hodor (guest) said...
For those having separation issues, try using Land O' Lakes Salted Butter only. Not Unsalted, and not no-name-brand. Stirring constantly is not required, and may cause your toffee to separate. I stir to combine the butter and sugar in the beginning, and then stir very infrequently until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Use a heavy-bottomed pan over low medium heat, don't heat the mixture too fast! Also, I just use 4 sticks of salted butter and 2 cups of sugar, no water or vanilla. Hope this helps!

On December 27, 2017 at 02:36 PM, BakingDude (guest) said...
Subject: Family has made this for 50+ years
My parents made this each Xmas on an electric stove, which was difficult due to temperature control. I have used gas cooking all my life, and I highly recommend it for making this. Our recipe is 1-1/3 C sugar to 1 C butter, 3 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp corn syrup. I have not had good luck using unsalted butter and adding 1/8 or 1/4 tsp salt, so I stick with what always has worked reliably. The only time I buy salted butter is to make this candy. I also tried off-brand unsalted butter with disastrous watery results - a useless watery mess. The first goal is to emulsify the butter and sugar to as homogeneous a mixture as possible, with very little or no liquid (oil or water) visible on top or around the edge of the pan. This requires a LOW temperature, patience and plenty of stirring. A higher temperature will cause the mixture to boil before the liquid is absorbed. Once the mixture comes together, I raise the heat slightly to MEDIUM LOW.

Of great importance is to avoid temperature swings. One thing that will cause this is stirring too much or too briskly. After the temperature is over 250 degrees, I have found that stirring too much can cause the temperature to drop. This will extend the cooking time, and you will burn the candy and/or "break" it (separation). If you set the heat right, you should not need to adjust it after the mixture begins to boil. I experimented recently with not stirring AT ALL after 260 degrees, and the result was the hardest crack candy I ever made. However, there was a thickened oily liquid that had to be "poured off" and "toweled off" using paper towels. This should not happen, and the added time to do these steps can create an issue since the candy should be poured directly into the pan once 305 is reached and the nuts are stirred in. Thus, I recommend some stirring, but as little as possible. You should find that the mixture does not burn even when it is not stirred, unless the heat is too high.

What really threw me off was my venture into unsalted butter territory. Prior to that I felt I had mastered the art. I wait just a few minutes after spreading the toffee to coat it with semi-sweet chocolate which has been melting on a double boiler - you want it ready immediately. Then I score the candy into squares - going maybe halfway through. Then I add almond screenings. Score again on the same lines, and a top sprinkling of almond screenings. I use a stiff flat spatula to spread the candy, and an offset spatula to spread the chocolate. Personally I found that as long as the bottom of the pot is heat spreading, the sides don't matter. When made right this stuff is spectacular.

On December 17, 2018 at 04:35 PM, LLLLola (guest) said...
Subject: When Life Gives You Lemons...
Whenever my toffee separates, I just add 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and make caramel sauce. Pour it in jelly jars and cover the lid with cute fabric and you have a nice gift for friends to use over ice cream or banana pancakes!

This recipe was handed down to me by my grandmother who grew up in Big House Farm in the west Midlands of England. That area has fabulous cooks

On September 03, 2019 at 08:16 PM, 312Steve (guest) said...
Subject: Paying it back
I've been lurking on this page for quite a long time. My first attempt at English Toffee was maybe 10 years ago. The advice I read here (along with lots of trial & error) were invaluable in helping me make a candy that I'm now quite proud of.

I realize that this recipe isn't getting many comments these days, but I wanted to share my version in the hopes that someone might see it and benefit from it. Really, I'm just trying to give something back to this site to alleviate my guilt for lurking so long without giving any input :-)

Here's my recipe, which I've been successful with at least 100 times now:

2 cups unsalted butter (1)
2 cups pure cane white sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons brewed coffee
teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Cover a large baking sheet(2) with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
2. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan (3), combine the butter, sugar , coffee, corn syrup and salt on medium heat, gently whisking the WHOLE time. Let come to a steady, but NOT rolling boil.
3. [Optional] When the mixture starts to thicken a bit (usually around 240), add 3/4 of the almonds. Stir to incorporate .
4. Continue cooking, while occasionally stirring (switch to a silicon spatula at this point), until thermometer reads 305(5).
5. Remove from heat. Stir in the baking soda, then immediately pour toffee onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a silicone spatula.
6. Let toffee cool for a minute, then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Let them sit for a minute or two to soften, then spread the chocolate into a thin even layer. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the chocolate.
7. Place the toffee in a cool, dry place until set.
8. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.

1. I buy whole raw almonds and toast them in a pan on the stovetop. Run the almonds in a food processor until chopped into roughly 1/8" pieces. Pour the chopped nuts through a mesh strainer to separate the finer pieces. Set aside 3/4 cup of the coarse pieces (for step 3) and return all the rest to the food processor and chop until very fine. Use the very fine stuff for step 6.
2. A half-size sheet pan (18" x 13") is the perfect size for this recipe.
3. Use at least a 4 quart pot - the volume of the ingredients increases a lot while cooking.
4. If you notice that your butter is separating, you probably have your heat too high. Lower the heat and whisk the hell out of the mixture and you can usually get it to come back together.
5. Most candy thermometers are not very accurate. Temperature is important. Use a good digital probe or an Infrared thermometer.

On September 03, 2019 at 08:24 PM, 312Steve (guest) said...
Subject: Minor Edits
Posted as a guest, so I can't edit my previous post. Should have reviewed it closer before submitting...

A few clarifications:
- Use 1/4 teaspoon of salt, not ?teaspoon
- The other 2 question marks in the text should be degrees
- In case you got confused, Note 1 pertains to the almonds, not the butter!

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