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English Toffee

The Prevention’s have been wasteful this past week.

As I was driving back from Chicago this past Sunday, I was talking to Mr. Prevention on the phone. He was bragging about how he hadn’t run the dishwasher once since I’d left town 5 days earlier.

“What the heck have you been eating?” I asked.

(I had left him 5 servings of leftovers portioned out into single-serving tupperware — recipes that he enjoyed!)

“Pizza.” he responded.

“You had pizza every meal since I left?!” I exclaimed.

“Pretty much.”

“Did you eat the leftovers I left you?”

“No, I just threw them out today” he said.

I almost hit the guard rail in disbelief. I leave tasty, healthy, homemade food that only needs rewarming and he ordered and ate pizza every meal for 5 days straight. SERIOUSLY?!

People, are you now seeing what I have to work with?

Then there’s me. I rarely let leftovers go to waste, but toffee presented some challenges…and waste.

As one of my favorite foods (in the top 3, for sure), I’m a bit ashamed to have learned that toffee is basically half butter and half sugar (I had a hunch this was the case, but I wanted to continue believing it was that bad). It lacks nutritional value in every sense. Sad, but true. It’s one of those desserts that screams “holidays” and a little bit goes a long way.

And as of Monday evening, I now have mad respect for toffee — it is not easy to make. Wait, that’s not really true. It is easy to make…when you do things right.

At first I used a big, cheap, non-stick pot. My butter-sugar mixture quickly rose to 285 F. It got to temperature so quickly, in fact, that I raised an eyebrow and just assumed it was my lucky day. I poured the mixture onto my parchment-lined cookie sheet and it was clear to me that something was very wrong — the sugar had sunk to the bottom and the butter had risen to the top. I waited it out to see if it would magically form toffee, but that it did not. I figured I had the heat too high so I pitched the batch and tried a second time.

The second attempt was carbon-copy disaster of the first. I tossed that batch, too.

Two pounds of butter and 4 cups of sugar later (in case anyone was keeping track…which I was, because I only had much butter and sugar and 3 more batches of cookies to make), I was getting frustrated.

I changed to a large stainless steel sauce pan and used a whisk at regular intervals. It was clear that this batch was taking on a very different appearance and it just looked like it had the potential to become my beloved toffee. A few minutes later at 285 degrees, we were in business. Nothing difficult, just some trial and error.

It was so worth the brief moment of frustration and the sacrifice of butter and sugar. This stuff is English Toffee perfection.


English Toffee adapted from Completely Delicious

4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped


In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

While the toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container. Yield: 32 ounces (32 one-ounce servings – about 2 pieces per ounce).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 227 calories; 16.3 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 18 mg. sodium; 21.3 g. carbohydrate; 0.15 g. fiber; 0.15 g. protein

Result: Crisp, sweet, salty toffee! This recipe is a keeper! Now that I know what works for me and my cookware, this will be a holiday recipe staple in my house! People can get partial to their toffee recipe, and this rendition was just what I was looking for. Toffee makes a great gift and keeps well for weeks in an air-tight container. It can also be frozen for later. Enjoy!


If you’re my buddy on Facebook, you probably saw my post about sweets recipes this week and buckling down next week to ring in the new year with healthy, light recipes. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

However, I tried 2 new cookie recipes that both include all whole wheat pastry flour/white whole wheat flour, and they both turned out great! Those recipes are coming soon!

Off to the clinic and then back to the Windy City tonight!

See you there,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. Amy B @ Second City Randomness
    December 21, 2011 / 7:20 am

    I always figured it was butter and sugar and not much else. That would be the case in one of my favorite types of candy.

    Last year, one of the agents I work for gave the whole staff this massive tin of english toffee. He was clearly my favorite person for at least a month after that… ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Melissa@IWasBornToCook
    December 21, 2011 / 7:54 am

    One of my favorites…may have to make a batch for this weekend. Looks awesome!

  3. Michelle
    December 21, 2011 / 8:46 am

    That is so my husband too, so frustrating ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad the 3rd batch of toffee turned out for you!

  4. Jessy
    December 21, 2011 / 8:55 am

    Um. That looks amazing. Seriously. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just said to my hubby – “Hey I’m totally making this today”and he did a fist pump. LOL.

    • Nicole
      December 21, 2011 / 11:22 pm

      I love it!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Anna @ On Anna's Plate
    December 21, 2011 / 9:46 am

    I’m very impressed that you made toffee– I’ve always been too intimidated to try!!! Looks perfect!!

  6. Kristen (swanky dietitian)
    December 21, 2011 / 10:07 am

    Oh no! Mr. Prevention sounds like my dad. Whenever my mom is gone (although she leaves plenty of healthy things for him) he will eat out. That’s a guy for you!
    This toffee looks incredible! I have never attempted making any. May have to start! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday
    December 21, 2011 / 10:31 am

    I kinda hate making candy solely because, in my experience, there always seems to be a good chance that it won’t work out. and I don’t take failure too easily, especially when it involves wasting expensive ingredients.
    I’m happy that it eventually worked out for you though. Toffee is pretty damn awesome and yours looks so cute. It would make a great gift.

  8. EA-The Spicy RD
    December 21, 2011 / 11:25 am

    Candy making scares me, but your toffee is gorgeous! I am an English toffee lover too, and just polished off the last bit of toffee {See’s Candy} my parents gave me for my birthday. This would be great in ice cream too..I love English Toffee Ice Cream, but it’s very hard to find. Will look forward to your healthier lighter recipes in 2012 ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather
    December 21, 2011 / 12:37 pm

    3rd times the charm! Can’t wait for your whole wheat sweet treat recipes!!

  10. janetha
    December 21, 2011 / 1:22 pm

    This looks amazing!

  11. Amy
    December 21, 2011 / 1:52 pm

    My husband is the same way about leftovers/eating food that I leave for him! It’s especially frustrating because it’s food that he likes!

  12. Nikki
    December 21, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    Even with your tips, I’ll probably screw this up at least the first three times. So, I better go get started! ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks beautiful, by the way!

  13. Leah @ Why Deprive?
    December 21, 2011 / 5:06 pm

    You know, I always knew deep down what toffee was made of, but I tried not to admit it to myself. I still love it . . . but maybe I’ll eat a little less this year?

  14. Krystal R.@ {Mrs. Regueiro's Plate}
    December 21, 2011 / 6:03 pm

    Dang girl!! Sounds like you an awesome arms workout for churning all that sugar and butter! I hope you don’t get arrested for those guns you are hiding!!!

    You’re making my knees go weak, I love English Toffee. I love adding little bits of it to brownies. OMG…so DANGEROUS!!! Looks fantastic Nicole!

  15. sophia
    December 21, 2011 / 7:03 pm

    LOL. Your husband sounds like my brother. Whenever my parents leave for mission trips, my mom makes a whole bunch of prepared foods for him but he eats out or takes-out and just leaves the food rotting there. At least your husband was responsible enough to throw the food out!

    LOVE English toffee, esp when it gets sticky!

  16. Mari
    December 21, 2011 / 7:16 pm

    yums I would love to get them in the mail lol oh and another thing that i would love to get in the mail, I holiday card featuring lily! just saying =)

  17. Dianna
    December 21, 2011 / 10:49 pm

    I’ve been making toffee at Christmas for several years. This year I used a new stainless steel pot and ruined my first two batches! I was not a happy camper. Reading this blog made me giggle ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t attempted my third batch because I’m convinced my pot is the problem.

    • Nicole
      December 21, 2011 / 11:21 pm

      If your flops were anything like mine, I’m guessing it’s the pan, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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