Tantalizing Toffee

Washington, my home state, is famous for many things: apples, Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Almond Roca. If you’re not from Washington, you probably just said, “Almond Whaaat?” But anyone from the Evergreen State, or the West Coast for that matter, would recognize the ubiquitous buttercrunch toffee shaped like little nut-studded logs, wrapped in gold foil and packed in Barbie-pink tins. We often used the terms Almond Roca and Almond Toffee interchangeably (a marketer’s nightmare!), and my high school friend Jen used to make Almond Roca/Toffee every Christmas. I always thought hers was much better than Brown & Haley’s pink-canned version.

A few years ago I needed a quick, unique, bite-sized dessert to bring to a cocktail party; I dusted off Jen’s recipe, added Hershey’s milk chocolate and more nuts to make it healthier (kidding, sort of), and cranked out my first batch of toffee. It was a disaster. The butter/sugar mixture separated and I ended up with a pool of butter on top of my cooling toffee. I blotted it with paper towels and salvaged it, but it was a humbling experience. It wasn’t until last year that I finally figured out (OK – researched) the trick: Melt the butter slowly! And – warm the nuts and pan. Do this and success is (almost) guaranteed. You’ll never buy canned toffee again.

This recipe makes about 2 pounds of finished toffee. It will keep for months in the freezer, unless you have weak willpower. Then I’d give it a few days at best.

Almond Toffee                                                

Makes about 2 pounds

  • 1 lb (Yes, friends, that’s 4 sticks!) salted butter (or if unsalted add ½ tsp kosher salt)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1  cup  chopped almonds + 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds/almond dust for sprinkling on top
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli bittersweet chips
  • 3 Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, broken into pieces (or 1 cup milk chocolate chips)

In large heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, sugar and corn syrup (if using) until fully melted and combined. (Be patient! Melting the butter and sugar over too high of heat will cause the butter to separate and make a big greasy mess.)

Note: You can get 1-lb blocks of butter like this at Costco

Heat oven to 250°F. Add 1 cup chopped almonds to baking sheet and place in oven. (This toasts the nuts and warms the pan, which will help prevent butter separation at the end.)

Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to boil; using a wooden spoon, stir gently from time to time to keep bottom from scorching. (Too much stirring can cause toffee to become grainy.)

Cook mixture until just shy of 300ºF on a candy thermometer.  Immediately remove from heat and stir in toasted almonds, then pour mixture out onto warmed baking sheet.

Use wooden spoon to spread/pull mixture – it should almost reach the edges. Caution: this stuff is HOT!

Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top of toffee and wait at least 5 minutes for the heat from the toffee to soften the chocolate. Then spread chocolate across top and sprinkle w/reserved almond dust/fine pieces.

Put the whole pan in refrigerator to cool. When fully cooled and hardened, break into pieces (stabbing with a knife to get it started).

Store in airtight bags or containers, either at room temperature or in the freezer. (I think the texture is best right out of the freezer.)

36 thoughts on “Tantalizing Toffee

  1. Pssst. Meet me by the back door at 10pm tonight and the large jar with the red bow is yours for $10. Cash only and turn your car lights off when you come up the driveway.

  2. Thank you for sharing! This was amazing! I’m going to bring some to a Christmas party we’re attending this Saturday night 🙂

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  4. Just made and it turned out AMAZING!! Used milk chocolate chips (as we don’t like semi sweet or dark) and pre melted them to make spreading easier, did omit the corn syrup and it tastes all buttery goodness! I’m so happy it worked I’m honestly cursed with candy thermometers, I’ve had 4 and none have ever read correctly, haha so I use the cold water test!

  5. Just made these.. It’s cooling the fridge now. I CANNOT wait to try a piece! This was my first time making something like this and I can’t believe how easy it was! If they taste as yummy as they look (which I’m sure they will, it’s kind of a foolproof recipe), I will definitely be making them again!

    • Hi Melissa — It’s 2 cups total. (1 cup semisweet or bittersweet + 1 cup milk chocolate) You could do 2 cups all milk chocolate or all semisweet/bittersweet if you prefer. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Beth – It sounds like maybe the temperature didn’t get high enough? Or sometimes the butter will separate from the sugar if the butter was heated too quickly. If that was the case, the excess butter can be blotted off with paper towels before topping with the chocolate.

  6. Hi,
    This is the second time I am trying this. When I remove from the heat and pour into the. Along sheet the butter seem to separate. I did let the butter melt on low heat before turning the heat up. Also turned the heat off just before the thermometer reached 300. What I might be doing wrong here?
    It taste yummy though. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Vandy,
      Sorry you have had trouble with the butter separating! Are you melting the butter with the sugar? (Good) Stirring too much? (Not good) I would suggest trying again (you can never have too much toffee!) — this time lower the temperature a little, and barely stir at all. (Stir to mix the melted butter/sugar but then leave it alone.) You could also try using salted butter (or adding 1/4 teaspoon salt to the butter), since some people thing the salt helps stabilize the mixture. If you try it again, let me know how it goes!

      • Hi Joanne — thank you for your comment. You are 100% right! Just 2 days ago I tried toasting the nuts and warming the baking sheet first (250F oven), then added the nuts when the toffee was ready. Poured all back onto the same baking sheet and had zero separation! Will amend the recipe soon for everyone else who’s struggled with this.

  7. Originally I used a non-stick Coated sauce pan for melting the butter and sugar. Once the butter melted I increased the heat to bring to a boil. That batch turned out a little grainy, but still delicious and not greasy. I’m wondering if the non-stick surface produces a different effect when melting. Also, Once the butter is melted am I suppose to leave the mixture on the low heat setting until the two ingredients blend together with minimal stirring or immediately increase heat once the butter has melted even though the butter and sugar are still not blended together completely.

  8. These comments are great – I will make some notes on the original recipe. I stir the melted butter and sugar until incorporated, then turn up the heat slightly and let it come to a slow boil. (The more patient you can be the better.) Not sure about the nonstick pan — interesting point to research!

  9. I am anxious to try this. I am confused about the Karo syrup. Do I understand that it makes it crisper? Hard? I am trying to find a recipe since an acquaintance will not share their recipe. It was so good……and not break your teeth hard! Wonder if your comment may be the secret…..No to Karo???? ………thank you

    • Yes – Skip the Karo. The corn syrup and watch the temperature. The corn syrup inhibits sugar crystals from forming, so going without it will make for a slightly grainier texture. Candy gets harder with every degree cooked, so be sure to pull off the heat just before it reaches 300F. Good luck!

  10. I have made a similar recipe for years but never understood why I sometimes am left with a nasty pool of greasy butter on top! Thanks for the hint and I’m trying your recipe tonight! Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Keri – Good luck with your toffee! After you (slowly!) melt the butter, whisk the butter/sugar mixture so it emulsifies. Then increase the heat. That will also help stabilize the butter/sugar mixture.

  11. The best toffee recipe out there. I have tried for years searching for the best recipe. After allot of disappointment s this is the best tasting and easiest to make. Thank you for posting this recipe. Marty Kiefer

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