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From the Pastry Chef: Holiday English Toffee

Toffee That Doesn’t Intimidate – Written by Marlo Gertz, Marlo’s Bakeshop

Like a lot of people, I steered clear of making candy for many years because the idea of needing a thermometer to make something other than meat seemed…too much. Too tricky, perhaps, or just too much effort for something that typically doesn’t make people “Oooh” and “Ahhh” when you present it.

But making candy really is easy. This year, I’m thankful I went through pastry school to realize it. But lucky for you, you don’t need to do that: you just need to make this delicious recipe for English Toffee to understand just how simple candy-making can be. Two rules dominate: if the recipe says stir constantly- do it. And watch the thermometer. It truly is that easy.

It was the vision of being the hostess-with-the-mostess that lured me to this recipe: guests in their holiday best, sipping on champagne in my apartment while crystal bowls brimming with fresh shards of sweet and crunchy toffee or spiced nuts lay ‘casually’ strewn about. Nevermind that I don’t own a single crystal bowl nor have any plans to host a holiday party. Those are just details.

This recipe is easy enough though to tackle mid-week. A lot of the time is takes it just stirring and cooling. With this toffee you can delight colleagues at the office, shower lucky friends with treats or package them in a cute box with ribbon for a homemade holiday gift. So go on now- get out that candy thermometer!


Preheat oven to 350*

Toast the almonds in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Let cool and chop finely.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (I use Silpat, but any brand will do). Put aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt & water over low heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the mixture has emulsified. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the hot toffee onto the prepared baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread into a thin even layer over the entire baking sheet/silicone mat and let cool for at least 45 minutes before coating with chocolate.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and gently stir with a rubber spatula until it has melted completely, looks smooth & is no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wipe off any excess oil from the cooled toffee with a paper towel. Using another offset spatula, spread the top of the cooled toffee with the warm chocolate. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, gently pressing them into the chocolate.

Let set at room temperature at least 20-30 minutes. Break the cooled toffee into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.