I grew up getting a box of Enstrom's Almond Toffee every year for Christmas from my Grandmother. Eventually, that stopped and there was a void in my life. I tracked this recipe down and find that it produces toffee just as good as I remember. Now I give it out to my family and friends at Christmas.
The text version of this recipe that I cook from can be found at http://staff.oclc.org/~levan/docs/englishtoffee.html
This recipe makes 3 lbs of toffee. There's no reason why you couldn't make a half batch, but it would be just as much work and the toffee stores well in the freezer.
Step 1: Ingredients
- 1 Cup (237ml) Water
- 2 Cup (474ml) sugar
- 4 sticks (2C/Ilb/454g) sweet (unsalted) butter
- 1 lb. (3C/227g) raw shelled almonds
- 1 1/2 lb. (4C/341g) milk chocolate
- Heavy pot
- Digital or candy thermometer
- Half sheet/cookie sheet with rim
The butter needs to be of good quality! Cheap butter doesn't work! It turns out that butters have different amounts of water in them and cheap butter has more water than good butter. I found this out by throwing away a couple of batches using Kroger's butter. Land-O-Lakes works just fine.
I've not had a bad experience with any milk chocolate. The kind of chocolate, from Hershey's to Dove, makes a difference in the taste, but it's all good. Personally, I like Hershey's Milk Chocolate Pieces. Some people like dark chocolate, but I find the chocolate overpowers the toffee.
Step 2: Combine Sugar and Water
Combine the sugar and water and heat to 235°F (113°C). You don't need to stir this, other than maybe enough to dissolve the sugar.
Step 3: Add Butter
Add 1 stick of butter and stir until melted.
Repeat with the remaining sticks.
If the temperature drops below 235°F (113°C), then I wait for it to rise to that point before adding the next stick of butter.
Step 4: Add Half the Almonds
Slowly add 1 1/2 cups (113g) whole almonds.
As in the previous step, I try not to let the temperature drop below 235°F (113°C).
Step 5: Heat to 290°F (143°C)
Stirring occasionally, heat to 290°F(143°C).
Make sure your thermometer is not resting on the bottom of the pan!
The toffee should take on a nice brown color.
I find that the less you stir it, the darker it will be.
You should smell toasting almonds and hear some of them popping.
Step 6: Pour Into Half Sheet
Careful! This is really hot!
I have a soapstone counter, so I can set my sheet right on the counter. You should probably set your sheet on a cooling rack.
The liquid toffee comes out first and will spread out by itself. As the nuts start coming out, try to pour them evenly over the toffee.
If the toffee separates and you see oil on the pan at the edges of the toffee, then you didn't get the toffee hot enough. For me, that happens when the thermometer rests on the bottom of the pan and I get a false temperature reading.
If the toffee doesn't have a uniform texture and some of it looks a little foamy, then you may have used too cheap a butter.
Step 7: Cover One Side With Chocolate and Nuts
Chop the remaining almonds. There should be lots of almond powder and small pieces of almond.
Melt half (2C/12oz/170g) of the chocolate. 2 minutes in the microwave is usually sufficient.
Spread the chocolate over one side of the toffee.
Sprinkle half of the chopped nuts onto the chocolate.
Tamp the nuts down into the chocolate.
Set the nearly complete toffee some place cool so that the chocolate hardens. (Since I do this in the winter, I just take the pan out to the garage. When I make it in the summer, I put the room temperature pan in my freezer for 15 minutes.)
Step 8: Flip and Repeat
(I know I told you to cool the toffee in the previous step. If it is too cool, then this layer of chocolate won't stick well. I let the toffee come back up to room temperature before starting this step.)
Heat the remaining chocolate and spread on the toffee.
Sprinkle and tamp the remaining nuts.
Let cool before breaking the toffee into pieces.
I store mine in the freezer and eat it right from the freezer. It has a wonderful crunch that way.