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Best-Ever Almond Toffee (Small Batch)

by on November 9, 2007 · 34 comments

I’ve mentioned almond toffee quite a bit this week and since a few people have commented about making it, here’s another version to consider. This is a small batch which can be made in a 2 quart saucepan.

As I made batch after batch of toffee yesterday, I noticed that the order of adding ingredients (butter through sugar) affected the color of the candy. If I added the sugar later in the game, the toffee was a bit lighter. Below is how I made it yesterday. In the larger batch, I used the temp of 295 which is about 5 degrees over the critical stage but still produces a good batch of toffee. For this batch, I put it at 290. So take the candy off at, but not before, 290. If you accidentally hit 295, you’re okay.

– Remember to use a heavy saucepan to prevent burning.
– I’ve been using unsalted butter
– Pecans can be used in place of almonds
– Sliced almonds look like this.
– Don’t forget the baking soda! Adding it at the end candy the toffee and makes this toffee special. It’s more like almond roca, but since that’s a brand name, I call it almond toffee

Best-Ever Almond Toffee

3/4 cups sliced almonds, divided use
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces), cut up
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4-6 ounces good quality dark or milk chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread 1/4 cup of the almonds on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes or until toasted and aromatic. Set aside.

Line a 13×9 inch pan or other ridged pan with parchment paper and set next to stove.

Place butter, water and salt in a heavy bottomed, 2 quart saucepan and melt over medium heat. When butter is completely melted, add sugar. Set a deep fry thermometer in pan, being careful that bulb is not touching bottom of pan. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring once or twice until it reaches 240 degrees F.

At 240 degrees, add the remaining 1/2 cup sliced almonds to sugar mixture. After adding almonds, stir constantly, keeping heat at medium, until mixture reaches 290 degrees F. If temperature is not rising at a slow and steady rate, raise heat a tiny bit until mercury starts rising. (going from 240 to 290 should not take any longer than 13 minutes). When mixture reaches 290 degrees F, immediately remove from heat and stir in baking soda. It will bubble a bit and the candy will develop air bubbles. Pour into parchment lined pan. The mixture should be kind of a bubbly blob at this point and if you are on track, the pan will be relatively clean when you dump the blob of candy onto the parchment. Mixture will begin to firm immediately, and butter may pool and separate, Do not pour off any excess butter if this happens. Do not panic, because if you cooked the toffee to 290, your candy should set. Sometimes it just takes longer.

Scatter chopped chocolate across top of hot almond mixture and let chocolate melt into and over the candy as candy firms. Using back of a spoon, spread melted chocolate evenly over candy.

Crush your toasted almonds and sprinkle over melted chocolate. Let candy cool for 1/2 hour at room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for about 1 hour to firm chocolate.

When chocolate is set is set, lift candy from pan by grasping parchment. Break candy into large chunks.

Makes about 10 ounces

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Published on November 9, 2007

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla November 9, 2007 at 9:21 am

Did you win the Betty Crocker cookie mix contest as well?? Geez, you win everything LOL I’m planning on entering this time around, as long as I can think of something original. Any tips? I’m thinking of taking original desserts and making them in cookie form.

Anna November 9, 2007 at 9:39 am

I worked really hard on that one and bought a lot of cookie mix! This year I get to take a break ;). You should definitely enter because they pick quite a few finalists and all of the finalists get cash and box tops. My only tip is to keep it simple and look at all the past winners. Go to Betty Crocker’s website and see how they use cookie mix, then try to come up with your own ideas.

Randi November 9, 2007 at 10:13 am

I’m making English Toffee this xmas as part of my xmas baking ( I’m selling tins of cookies, bars, and toffee). I have a super old recipe from a gourmet magazine I use. I’ll pass it along if you’re interested.

Judy November 9, 2007 at 10:14 am

Hi Anna,

Can I freeze this toffee? If so, how long will it keep in the freezer. I’m starting my Christmas baking and want to make as much ahead of time as possible. Thank you.

Anna November 9, 2007 at 10:19 am

Randi, would you email it to me?

Judy, this toffee freezes very well. If you wrap it tightly, you could keep it for up to 3 months.

Aria November 9, 2007 at 10:43 am

I want to try making this. First I need to buy a thermometer. Do you need to spread it out when it comes out of the saucepan?

Anna November 9, 2007 at 10:46 am

Aria, no. You shouldn’t spread it out with a spatula or anything like that. It kind of falls into a slab on its own. Sometimes I tilt the pan a bit to help it along, but you don’t want to spread it because that will flatten out some of the nice air pockets from the soda.

Anj November 9, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I really want to try this as I have a friend who loves toffee and I spend a ridiculous amount of money from a man at the Houston Livestock & Rodeo each year. The Taylor deep fry thermometer that you showed, the one on Amazon does have a clip, but do you just lean it against the side? Or am I looking at the wrong thermometer. Do you think the humidity that we get here on the coast would affect the result?

Lindsay November 9, 2007 at 12:52 pm

Ok- I’m embarassed to say I still have some of this in the freezer from LAST CHRISTMAS and it still tastes great! (Note to self: must clean out freezer more often…)

Anna November 9, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Anj, if you have a good thermometer, you won’t have to worry about the humidity. I think humidity can affect how long things take to boil and/or set, but if you monitor the temp you should be fine.

I lean my thermometer upside down, making sure the bulb doesn’t touch the pan bottom. My thermometer has a little metal thing near the bulb that kind of buffers it.

Lindsay, that’s good to know!

Stephanie November 9, 2007 at 2:06 pm

This is the recipe that my mom has used in the past http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/recipe.aspx?recipeId=36113

Easy to remember and easy to make. She always made it with Blue Bonnet margarine. I should do a side by side taste test and see if the butter version proves to be a huge taste change. A slightly warm cookie sheet helps the mixture spread rather than start to harden up right away. And we topped ours with mini chocolate chips, just let them sit a few minutes and then spread and top with pecans.

I can’t wait to try yours with the addition of soda — I bet that helps it be more brittle (in a good way), more toffee like rather than chewy. One year my dad dropped a huge tin of toffee and it just shattered inside and we gave it as a gift as ice-cream topping.

Aria November 9, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Ooh, one more question. Can chopped almonds work?

Janet November 10, 2007 at 3:00 pm

I made your wonderful Best Ever Almond Toffee last year and everyone said it was the best thing to cross their lips!!! Thanks, Anna, for sharing the recipe and the tips! It was easy and came out just right!!!

Anna November 10, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Stephanie, thanks for the link. This particular recipe is all about *butter*.

Aria, yes. Chopped almonds should work. Pecans work too.

Janet, thanks! I’m glad you found it easy. Maybe I’m making it sound harder than it really is….I just want people to be successful. ;).

Kelli November 13, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I made this yesterday and it turned out perfect. I was glad that you added the comment about “not panicking”, however, as that is exactly what I would have done once I saw the butter pooling in the pan. It set up beautifully, though and it really wasn’t hard to make at all. Another keeper!

Anna November 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Hi Kelli,

Thanks for the report. Just wait until your friends and/or family try it. You are going to be making this for the rest of your life. Sorry ;).

About the butter pooling. I really do not know why that happens. What’s odd is I made batch upon batch last week and got nary a puddle. So it doesn’t always happen.

steph November 15, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Hi Anna,
I have been a “lurker” of your website for some time now. Thank you for your insight and humor.
I have attempted your toffee twice. The first time the candy was pliable (still delicious) and the second time a bit harder but not like I remember toffee. Is it just my thermometer could be off, or is there another reason for my gummy toffee? Any thoughts would help, I will keep trying til I get it right.

Anna November 15, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Hi Steph,

If the toffee is pliable, that means the candy never got hot enough. It sounds like your thermometer is off. The toffee should be hard and kind of crisp. I wish I was there to walk you through it.

I’m thinking of making a video and putting it on You Tube or something!

Chelsea November 17, 2007 at 11:37 am

Quick Question:
I’m a bit worried, my pans are all stainless steel, and so I’m pretty sure this would just stick and burn. Do you suggest getting a new pan? lol I’m going to make this and have my fam try it at Thanksgiving. If it goes over well, I’ll be making it for Christmas. And do you use baking chocolate, or just a regular high grade choco bar?
Thanks so much~
Chelsea

Anna November 17, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Chelsea, last week I used a stainless steel pan and turned out a few good batches. Why don’t you give it a try. If it burns, you’ll know why!

By the way. I JUST finished making a small batch and the butter separated like crazy. I’m going to let it set as usual and it appears that it’s going to be a good batch, but the butter did pool. The things I did differently this time (as opposed to last week, when nothing pooled) was

1) used Land o’ Lakes rather than store-brand
2) raised the heat a bit faster

I think the pooling might have to do with the rate the temperature rises and the time water needs to evaporate. My thinking is that if you cook it at a slightly lower temp for a longer time, more water evaporates and there’s less pooling.

Lorie November 24, 2007 at 10:28 am

Anna,

I have been making toffee for a few years and am confounded about why the butter pools out on some batches. At times, it’s happened right in the pan before I pour it out. Other times, I get a perfect batch with no butter pooling at all.

I’ve done some reading and it does appear to be a temperature thing and a stirring thing. Some people use 3T corn syrup called an “invert” sugar to keep it emulsified because it binds the sugar and butter. Some recipes say stir constantly and others don’t. I’ve also read that you can throw in a tablespoon of hot water at a time into the pan (no more than 4T) to “cool the toffee” back down and bring the butter back together with the mixture. I’ve even read people who let a puddled bunch cool, throw it back in, bring it back to temp and get it emulsified again.

I’m about to make a small batch and may try the corn syrup version just to see what I get. I will also have hot water at the ready and I’m going to bring my heat up slower to see if that makes the difference.

My question is that it sounds like you’re saying that it sets up even with the pooled butter. Does it “absorb” the butter back in or are you still left with puddled butter you wipe away?

Thanks!

Anna November 24, 2007 at 11:39 am

Hi Lori,

Let me know how the corn syrup works. Adding it seems like a good idea. I’ll bet substituting corn syrup for part of the sugar in this recipe would help prevent pooling. However, I wouldn’t know how much to sub since corn syrup, I believe, is sweeter than sugar. I guess I could play around.

The butter doesn’t always pool, but when it does, some of it gets absorbed back and the rest I just blot up. I think what pools is actually buttery water that didn’t evaporate in the pot. So maybe some of it just evaporates.

Good luck with your batch. I have to make about 10 batches this weekend.

Lorie November 24, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Ok, I just made two successful batches with zero butter separation or pooling using the following recipe…

1 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 T water
3 T light corn syrup
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 cup slivered almonds
6 oz (1/2 bag) semi sweet chocolate chips

Based on all the tips and procedures I’ve read on preventing butter separation and pooling, I did the following…

Lightly toast 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a 350 oven for 5-8 minutes until light golden. Cool a little and then chop them up to a small dice.

In a heavy pan (mine is copper), melt the butter completely over LOW heat. Slow and low. While it was melting, I used some of it to brush the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.

Once the butter is fully melted, add the sugar, water and corn syrup. SLOWLY stir almost continually over LOW-MED LOW heat until it just comes to a very light boil. This takes 10 or more minutes. During this time, the sugar is melting.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it boil for 3 minutes as the steam will wash any crystals down with the butter on the sides of the pan assisting. This prevents a complete crystallization of your whole batch and is important.

Uncover, bring the temperature up just a small notch to MED LOW and let it boil out the water. At this time, you can place your candy thermometer on the pan, making sure the bottom is suspended and not touching the bottom of the pan. Large white popping bubbles will happen continually for 10 minutes or more. During this phase, I stirred occasionally, maybe every minute or so.

When the temperature reached 300 degrees, the color is a rich amber color (about the color of peanut butter). Pull it immediately from the heat and stir in the 1/2 t of baking soda. Stir vigorously being careful as the mixture will increase in volume.

Pour onto the prepared 13×9 pan (I use a silpat sheet, or you could use buttered foil or parchment). Tip the pan back and forth a little so it spreads out. After 5 or more minutes the top has set enough to sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Let them sit for another 3 or 4 minutes until they are completely softened. With an offset spatula, spread them all over the toffee until smooth. Sprinkle your chopped toasted almonds over the chocolate. Move to cooler spot, preferably elevated on a cookie rack so it can cool from below.

Let it set up for a few hours. Some people place in the frig to set the chocolate. I’m letting mine air set which seems to be working fine.

When completely set, break into chunks and store in an air tight container. I’ve read it will be fine on the counter for a week or so, and in the fridge for a month.

I have not frozen toffee before and may freeze one batch to see how it does. There may be some bloom on the chocolate, so I’ll test it. If anyone has tips on freezing, please let me know.

Other tips I’ve read say that on a humid day, cook it one or two degrees beyond 300. It’s in the 40′s here today and not humid at all.

Good luck. I really think LOW and SLOW is to key to not having it separate.

Gina January 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Anna –

I have been making this recipe successfully for many years and wanted to add one hint that I am not sure if I have seen anywhere. (Please forgive me if it has been posted and I missed it) I line my pan with a Silpat instead of the parchment. It works beautifully. When it is cool, I pry up one end with a butter knife and break it into pieces from there.

Gina

Annette December 28, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Anna,
This is my most favorite recipe and that of all my friends! ;-). Believe it or not, I’ve never had the butter pool. However, there is one thing that happens now and again that I don’t understand. The chocolate separates from the toffee as I am breaking it in pieces. Does this happen to you? Any suggestions on what this might be?

thanks!
Annette

Anna December 28, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Hi Annette,

Hmmmmmm. At what point do you put the chocolate on? Do you let the toffee cool off then put the chocolate on while it’s warm or do you throw the chocolate on there as soon as the candy comes out of the pan? I usually put the chocolate on no more than 3 minutes after dumping the candy. Maybe the time you put the chocolate on has something to do with it? I put it on so early that maybe some of the melting chocolate seeps into the sugar layer and helps the toffee adhere as it firms up. Does that make sense? Not sure if that’s it, but I haven’t had an issue with chocolate falling off.

Or maybe you melt your chocolate separately and put it on at the end? I’ve never done that, but it seems like that might contribute to it falling off. If you’d like, you could send me a copy of how you make the toffee and I’ll try your way and troubleshoot.

Ram October 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Hi Anna! I’ve been lurking in your blog for quite a long time already, you have so many wonderful recipes. I love toffee but never had the guts to make it. This recipe seems so easy to make, I’d like to try it. My question is, can I double or triple the recipe, have you ever tried it? I’d like to give this as Christmas giveaways and if I can make it in one go the better. Thanks and more power to you.

Anna October 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Hi Ram,

I hope you try the toffee! And yes, you can definitely double this. In fact, the original version of the recipe is double this. I’ve also quadrupled it, using a pound of butter, 2 cups of sugar, etc. I posted the small batch for people who might want to give it a test run before committing to a full batch.

Cyndi November 5, 2009 at 11:48 am

Hi. I was looking for a really great toffee like you get in the candy shops. Not overly sweet-some are cloyingly sweet and having that nice crunch factor. I want it to be More buttery than overly sweet. Yours seems to be a high ratio of butter to sugar than some of the other ones I have seen. I read in a reply above from Randi that she had a great recipe. Can you post it?

katherine November 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm

When I tasted this toffee, I could not believe I made it! I used pecans and dark chocolate and it was spectacular. These will be a staple for the Holidays. I used a silpat instead of parchment paper with great results. I am anxious to try almonds. Thanks!

Deb December 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe and for the high altitude comment – I’ve never been able to make toffee before and this was perfect! Everyone I gave it to begged for more! I’m going to make another batch tomorrow – can’t disappoint it’s fans. If you haven’t tried this yet, try it! YUM!

Mariane January 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Help! I bought some English almond toffee online at one of the more popular toffee stores. It had two layers, the bottom layer was a cream colored toffee. The top layer was made up of almonds and chocolate and very tasty. When the box arrived three days ago, I immediately put it in the freezer so it would be fresh for a birthday party I was hosting in late January. I opened the box to check it out and every single piece of the bottom layer of toffee had separated from the top layer. I’m sick because I can’t serve it. I can’t try to match a hundred little pieces of toffee to fit the corresponding almond and chocolate on the top layer. I checked the website of the online store and it said nothing about not freezing but did say to keep it cold so it would stay fresh. I have frozen all my chocolates and fudge and other candies for years with wonderful results. Can you explain why this might have happened? I wrote to the company but no response.

Megan November 30, 2010 at 10:04 am

Another long-time lurker here…I finally decided to depart from my usual holiday cookies and tackle candy! I knew I wanted to start with this one, after reading so much about it on the Cooking Light board over the years. Thanks to your detailed instructions, it came out great (despite the fact that I discovered that my candy thermometer is several degrees off so I had to use my meat thermometer). I was a little concerned that the addition of the baking soda didn’t cause it to bubble up much – but not having had this before, I am not certain what the final texture should be. It is crunchy, and easy to chew, but not airy. Maybe I should get new soda, even though I haven’t noticed a problem in other baked goods. I am going to need to make some more anyway, as DH is well on his way to finishing this batch and I need a hostess gift for next weekend. Thanks again!

Fiorello December 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I have never, ever, made toffee, and I was just expecting that it would be a flop. WRONG! It was wonderful, my husband was amazed at how good it is, and I will absolutely, positively make it for family Christmas dinner, and for gifts. Thanks so much for sharing.

FIO

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