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English Toffee question

Corn syrup, or no corn syrup?

I'm debating between two recipes:

epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

Uncle Phaedrus, whose French salted caramels I've made successfully:

Also, 285 or 300 degrees? All the recipes seem to say 285, but a lot of comments on epicurious as well as past posts on this site suggest taking it all the way up to 300.

I'm trying to get a caramel that has a nice snap but isn't actually too hard to chew, and won't stick to the teeth too much. Sort of like the texture of See's peanut brittle, which seems to have enough air in it to be crispy rather than hard but isn't "soft" as in "bendable." Hard to describe, but candy lovers will know what I mean.

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  1. seems to me the key is making the caramel with out cream and getting the temp right. Cady making in my world was confined to the glories of Maple sugar which was cooked to 275 as I recall. Love the Phaedrus site: wonder if there is any connection to our chowhound Phaedrus?

    1. Ummmm... shouldn't brittle be... 'brittle?' Are you sure it isn't 'peanut bendable?' ;)

      2 Replies
      1. re: scott123

        I'm trying to make toffee, not brittle! :) And toffe, I think, has a range of hardness. mmmm, brittle. Now you've got me wanting brittle.

        1. re: Pei

          Yes, toffee does have a range of hardness. I'm just pointing out that See's peanut 'brittle' is bendable, and brittle, by the nature of it's name, shouldn't bend.

          As far as which recipe to use, definitely go with Sweet's advice and use the baking soda one. Bubbles in toffee = baking soda.

      2. I would go with the recipe with the baking soda. The soda produces carbon dioxide gas when mixed with the sugars which create a crisp but not-crack-your-teeth hard candy. Then cook the sugar to 300*. This should give you that crisp airy consistancy you are craving.

        1. I make toffee from an old, old recipe (don't remember the original source) and it uses only butter and brown sugar in equal proportions. No corn syrup, no baking soda, nothing else. You simply put a stick of butter and half a cup of brown sugar into a medium saucepan (it will boil up so you need extra room). Heat over medium until the butter is melted & sugar begins to dissolve, stir once or twice to get the sugar mixed in. Once it comes to a rolling boil, cook for 3-5 minutes (it's very humid where I live, so I sometimes give it an extra minute or two past the three minute mark to account for extra water in the sugar). Turn off the heat, and pour it out into a buttered, foil-lined 9" square pan whose bottom is covered with saltine crackers. Pop into a 375 oven for 5 minutes; remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped chocolate; spread chocolate once it is soft & then sprinkle with chopped nuts.

          The toffee can certainly be made without the crackers, but they give it a nice lightly salted crunch. Kept in an airtight container, it will last three or four days before sugaring. Recipes with a little karo or glucose syrup will make a harder toffee that is stable for longer periods of time, but they're generally a little more precise...requiring specific temps, longer boiling, etc. I like the old idiot-simple butter-brown-sugar method best, and its flavor is great.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Thank you so much!! My Mom used to make this exact recipie and It has been so long since she's made it and she's forgotten the measurements and I am sooo happy to come across this recipie. I have looked everywhere for toffee that uses crackers and you saved me...thanks :)

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              Thank you HC for reminding me of a lost recipe for copying Heath Bars. I think we used one cup of white sugar and a half lb butter. Thats all, except for a jar of peanut butter. Just melt the sugar and butter and heat and stir until the mixture is the EXACT COLOR of the peanut butter. Then pour the mix on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Then cover with chocolate. Quite simple, really.

            2. RESULTS AND PHOTO

              Thanks HungryCelest! You answered my question precisely. Karo=harder candy.

              I think, for one reason or other, I'm going to need the Karo's. My candy always comes out softer than the recipe describes, even if I add a few degrees to it. Last night, I took the recipe that said cook to 285 and let it go all the way to 300, and it was still soft.

              Results: I went with the Uncle Phaedrus recipe because I didn't have Karo's. My toffee came out with the sandy, slightly bendy texture of a New Orleans praline. I love pralines, so it tasted fine to me. But I'm not sure I can call it toffee. I'm just going to have to hand it to people and say "Here's some candy. You'll eat it and you'll like it."


              2 Replies
              1. re: Pei

                What is your ratio of sugar to butter?

                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  The recipe was 1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar to a stick (1/2 cup) butter. Too much butter?

                  I also stirred in my nuts at the end before pouring the candy out, instead of pouring the candy onto nuts. Maybe my nuts weren't dry enough? They were slightly browned around the edges and crunched easily, but maybe there was a little moisture left in them.

              2. No, not too much butter, in fact maybe too much sugar...I don't add the nuts to the toffee b/c they break up the toffee & encourage crystallization of the sugar (the praline-y texture you described). Don't stir the mixture too much either, as this will also encourage sugar crystal formation. Next time, try sprinkling the nuts on top after it has set for a minute or so.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  I see. That must be why for peanut brittle the peanuts are added a few minutes before the mixture is hot enough to be poured out. Thanks!

                  I've decided to call my candy pralines and enjoy them as such. It's all in the name...

                2. http://www.landolakes.com/mealIdeas/V...
                  This recipe works for me. Your toffee looks beautiful!

                  1. My recipe (not original) takes the toffee to 320, past hard crack stage. the texture is nice, not tooth-sticky, and always gets raves. I was asked by a pastry chef for the recipe).

                    here are a few words from last year, holiday time, when candy recipes were flying back and forth like crazy!

                    The entire recipe was posted but I can't look for it (at work).

                    Good luck!!


                    My sugestion is use the freshest butter and freshest nuts you can find.(toast your own, Trader joe's not often very fresh)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: toodie jane

                      ToodieJane, just to let you know we took a poll at Thanksgiving regarding the English Toffee I'd brought. between yours and one of the other ones I made same day.
                      by far yours was the winner.
                      wanted to report back to you the good news.

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        HI-- so glad it was liked, it was passed to me 25 years ago by friend (between the two of us many hundreds of recipes have been made); the recipe calls for 8 oz Hershey Chocolate bars for the coating, so I'm thinking it was a recipe from Hershey Test Kitchens.

                        I used to use Ghirardelli random size bulk pieces, but since it is no longer to be found, I use about 1/3 Trader Joe's Milk to 2/3 TJ's 72 % Dark for the coating, and it goes on about 3/16" thick. A good coating of chocolate, chunky fresh roasted almonds to coat, and cooking the candy to 320 rather than 310 (hard crack) makes a flavor difference.

                        First batch this year I had a problem with the candy separating at about 280, it was awful. I asked a local commercial home candy maker (her product uses cashews--yum!)and she suggested DON'T melt the butter too fast, and don't make it on a high humidity day. Next batch I melted the butter slowly, then added the sugar and finally water. Brought it slowly to temp and it was perfect.

                    2. When I make English Toffee, Ihave a problem with the chocolate not sticking to the caramel after cooling. When I break the candy into pieces, the chocolate layer separates from the caramel. What am I doing wrong?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: spuggy

                        You need to pat the excess butter off of the toffee using a paper towel after you pour the candy in the pan to cool. Also, try scoring the toffee with the back of a knife while it is still a little soft. This will allow the chocolate to stick and make it easier to crack the toffee into pieces when cooled.

                        1. re: gamergirl


                          I've been making a toffee recipe every year for about 20 years. Just in the past 5 or so, the butter starts to separate out of the caramel at about 240 degrees or so. I stir and stir, and finally at about 310 it starts to re emulsify, but only partially. Then when I pour the toffee, it hardens with a sheen of fat, which I towel off, but still am having problems with the chocolate sticking when I break it.

                          I''ve never scored the toffee, does this also help in the breaking-up process?

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            last year ToodieJane I had that exact same problem.
                            I made 4 different batches of toffee, simply for comparison and to have plenty to give away. don't remember which one called for margarine (?) but I bought a lb and while 2 batches were in the cooling stage the butter one got the separation thing going and the margarine didn't. I found that odd and the butter problem child also got ultra soft a couple of days later-I had to chuck that batch. didn't like the taste of the margarine one and tossed it too, but made the David Leib one a couple more times.

                      2. I made a macadamia nut toffee twice this season with great results. The recipe that I used has Karo and baking soda in it, brought the sugar mixture up to 285, results: crisp and not bendable. I also poured the candy onto a silpat mat which makes for easy release and cleanup!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lnyc

                          This is a nut brittle, but not a toffee.

                          Still outrageously good!

                        2. I love English Toffee and wanted to try chocolate coated seafoam this year, but was ill over Christmas. Did any of you do seafoam?

                          1. Corn syrup is sometimes in a recipe to help prevent the sugar from going back into crystals. When you see a couple of tablespoons in the recipe that is the thinking.