Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Bake the nuts for 8-10 minutes. Allow the toasted nuts to cool, then mince them. Set aside.
Determine the thickness of your toffee by selecting your pan. For a thinner toffee base, choose a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. For thicker uniform pieces, use a 9x13 inch baking dish or an 11x7 inch baking dish lined with a parchment paper sling.
Arrange half of the toasted nuts on the bottom of the pan, along with half of the chocolate. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the salt, brown sugar, water, and corn syrup. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until blended. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat. Do not stir once the mixture begins to boil.
Continue to boil the mixture until the temperature reaches the "hard-crack stage" (300-310F on a candy thermometer). This process will take 10-15 minutes and will require patience.
Once your mixture reaches 295-300F, immediately remove your saucepan from the heat. Quickly add the baking soda to the boiling mixture and stir.
Quickly pour the toffee over the crushed toasted nuts and chocolate in the prepared pan. Then sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the warm toffee. Allow the chocolate to melt for about 2-3 minutes, then spread with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Then continue to garnish the top of the toffee with the remaining toasted nuts.
Allow the toffee to harden and cool slightly before removing it from the pan. Using your hands or a knife, depending on how thick the toffee is, break the pieces into large chunks.
Store your English toffee in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Enjoy!
You don't need to add the baking soda in English toffee. But we highly recommend it. Baking soda reacts with acids in the sugar, which make several bubbles in the mixture that become trapped. These trapped bubbles create a desirable airy, light texture within the toffee.
Not exactly. Although they have similar flavors, toffee is hard and crunchy while caramel is soft and chewy. Toffee is cooked to the hard crack stage of 300 to 310 degrees. To prepare caramel, you would cook to a firm-ball stage of 245 to 250 degrees.
Although you don't need to use a candy thermometer, it will be extremely challenging to know when your toffee is ready to be poured and frustrating when you get it wrong. To test your toffee without a candy thermometer, use the cold water test. This involves dropping a spoonful of your hot mixture into a cup of cold water. When you attempt to remove it, bend it with your hand, and it should be brittle and crack.