This deeply caramelized english toffee is topped with a sheet of chocolate and toasted walnuts. It’s perfect for holiday gift baskets and cookie exchanges.
I started out life totally indifferent to chocolate. For my first ten years, I’d eat it when it was offered, but always preferred sweets that were based on vanilla, fruit or toffee flavors. Pecan was my favorite ice cream flavor, and when Eleanor’s platter of holiday treats arrived each year, the first candies I went for were the homemade caramels.
I did eventually come around to chocolate’s many charms, but I’ve still got a soft spot for caramels and toffee-based candies. In past years I’ve made those graham cracker toffees and pepita brittle. Last week, after having the page bookmarked for years now, I made a version this skillet toffee.
I made just a couple changes to the original recipe. I swapped in toasted walnuts for the almonds and I cooked it just a bit longer than called for. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that I like my candy to have an edge. I want sweets to have complexity and so when I cooked the butter and sugar together, I took it a few degrees hotter. It’s sweet and sharp and utterly entrancing. It’s one I plan on making for many years to come.
Before you getting cooking, there are are a few things you should know about this recipe. The first is that you want to have everything you need out before you turn the heat on under your pan. Sugar can go from perfect to incinerated in a couple heartbeats, so make sure you have you pan lined, your thermometer stationed by the stove, and the vanilla ready to add at the end.
This english toffee can be a little fussy. Sometimes the butter and sugar don’t want to come together smoothly. If you find that there is a greasy butter layer hanging around the outside of the sugar, keep stirring. Use a wooden spoon or sturdy silicone spatula and keep beating the butter and sugar together. They will eventually join, but it might take some convincing.
Use an instant read or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the sugar. You are aiming for beween 300°F and 310°F. This will give you a nice flavor and a perfect, shatterable consistency. Any lower and it will end up being too soft and with not enough flavor.
English Toffee with Chocolate and Toasted Walnuts
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
- Line a rimmed half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Melt butter in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar and salt as the butter melts.
- Stir constantly with a silicone spatula, regularly scraping down the sides. It will bubble and hiss as you stir.
- Cook until the toffee mixture has achieved a deep, golden brown color and is between 300°F and 310°F. It will keep cooking once off the heat, so keep stirring.
- Once you’ve reached your desired level of doneness, remove pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla. It will sputter and spit when you add the vanilla, so be careful.
- Pour the toffee into your prepared baking sheet. Let cool for approximately 10 minutes before evenly sprinkling the chocolate across the top. When the chocolate begins to melt, use an offset spatula to spread it out into an even layer.
- Sprinkle nuts across the warm chocolate and pat gently with your palms to embed the nuts into the chocolate.
- Let the toffee cool for 4-6 hours, until it becomes stiff and brittle. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. This candy will keep well at room temperature for weeks (if it lasts that long).