English Toffee is a buttery, chocolate confection laden with walnuts and broken into bite-size delectable pieces. Butter and sugar are cooked together until it caramelizes, then poured on top of chopped walnuts and smothered with a layer of dark chocolate.
As it cools, the candy becomes crunchy and is broken into small pieces (like peanut brittle) for serving. This English Toffee recipe is cooked to the soft crack stage, so it isn’t quite as hard as brittle and won’t break your teeth!
English Toffee is perfect for holiday treat bags. Once you bless someone with this delicious candy, they’ll be hoping for it year after year!
I am now officially a candy maker! That’s right, after three tries at making English Toffee, I am no longer intimidated. I’ve got this!
The secret to my success? One is having the right tools. It really was easy after I bought a candy thermometer for batch number two.
My first batch ended up being a soft mess, which was really disappointing. Of course, the candy still tasted good, but it crumbled in your hands!
No way did I toss it out — that stuff was still tasty! We used it as a topping for our breakfast oatmeal!
Another secret is patience. I know, that’s a hard one! You don’t want to rush toffee, so cooking it low and slow is key. Resist the urge to turn up the heat because that’s when the butter and sugar are sure to separate.
How to make English toffee
Making toffee is really pretty simple once you understand the technique. My advice is this: be patient, cook the toffee low and slow, and use a candy thermometer to take the guess work out of the equation!
- Before you begin, get all the ingredients ready. Toffee isn’t difficult, but it does require your full attention once you start cooking.
- Lightly butter a baking sheet with a lip.
- Finely chop the walnuts and spread a thin layer on the baking sheet.
- Using a heavy-bottom pan, melt butter and sugar over low heat, stirring gently until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Continue cooking and stirring gently until the toffee heats to between 280 and 300 degrees (soft crack stage).
- Gently pour the mixture over the walnut and spread out evenly.
- Place Hershey bars on top and let sit for 30 seconds.
- Using an offset spatula, gently spread the chocolate bars into a thin layer covering the caramel layer.
- Sprinkle with more chopped walnuts and let cool completely before breaking into small pieces.
What is English toffee?
Toffee is a candy made by melting sugar and butter until it is caramelized. The mixture is slowly heated until it reaches the soft crack stage, or 280 – 300 degrees.
What is the difference between caramel and toffee?
Both are made by cooking sugar and butter together, but caramel has added cream and is cooked to a lower temperature so that it stays soft.
How long does homemade toffee last?
English Toffee will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 weeks when kept sealed tightly. It will stay fresh for up to a month when kept chilled in the refrigerator.
What makes toffee separate?
There are many theories about this, but my experience is that the butter and sugar will separate when the cooking temperature changes too quickly.
I’ve had best success by cooking the butter and sugar mixture low and slow, being sure to stir gently to avoid any scorching in the pan.
How do you know when toffee is done?
The toffee will begin to change to a light almond color when it is done. The real test, however, is by checking the temperature which should rise to between 280 and 300 degrees for the soft crack stage.
More recipes for gift giving!
- Fig and Walnut Biscotti with Dark Chocolate — A sophisticated cookie that’s not just for coffee drinkers, the flavor of Fig and Walnut Biscotti with Dark Chocolate is enhanced by using freshly grated orange zest in the cookie dough.
- Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle — An old-fashioned hard-candy treat.
- Buckeye Brownie Bites — Miniature brownies topped with peanut butter “buckeye” candy balls and drizzled with dark chocolate ganache. One recipe batch makes 32 bite-size treats, so there are plenty to package in gift boxes or treat bags.
- Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti — Perfect for the holidays, this festive biscotti is dipped in creamy white chocolate and has a delicate vanilla cookie flavor.
To make this recipe you may need…
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A candy thermometer or digital instant read thermometer. I never thought it would make much of a difference, but trust me, if you want to make brittles, toffee, or any other candy, save yourself some grief and start off right by getting yourself a thermometer!
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English Toffee Recipe
For years, a vendor brought me a small bag of homemade toffee as a Christmas thank you gift. I will unashamedly admit that I hid it away in my desk drawer so that I didn’t have to share! This candy is addictive and is a delicious indulgence. Merry Christmas!
- 2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 King-size Hershey milk chocolate bars
- Lightly butter 10x12 cookie sheet (with lip). Spread half the walnuts evenly on top.
- Using a heavy-bottom pan, melt butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt over low heat, stirring gently until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Continue cooking and gently stirring over low heat for 9 - 12 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 280-300 degrees.
- Evenly pour mixture on top of walnuts and quickly spread into a thin layer.
- Lay chocolate bars on top and allow to sit for about 30 seconds until slightly melted. Using an offset spatula, carefully spread the chocolate into a thin layer.
- Sprinkle the remaining walnuts all over the top and gently press in with a fork.
- Allow toffee to set until completely cool, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to completely firm up.
- Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
- Before you begin, get all the ingredients ready. Toffee isn't difficult, but it does require your full attention once you start cooking.
- English Toffee will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 weeks when kept sealed tightly. It will stay fresh for up to a month when kept chilled in the refrigerator.
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Serving Size:1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
Sheila Thigpen, author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. Living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters and two fine sons-in-law, are active in their church, love to travel, and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!