Food names can be so confusing at times. I grew up calling a candy VERY similar to this one, Buttercrunch. It was and still is my mom's favorite candy, though usually it is coated on all sides (individual pieces have been dipped) with milk chocolate and nuts, not just on one side with dark chocolate and nuts as this one is. English toffee, as I've always known it, is just the toffee part of this treat without ANY chocolate or nuts, so those of you Brits out there reading this may be awfully confused by the apparent discrepancy between the name of this dish and the photo above.
Naming conventions aside, this recipe from the quite famous Miette bakery in San Fransisco, and available in their cookbook titled (not surprisingly), Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop , is so super freaking good that you can call it whatever you want as long as you make enough to share with me.
I made it only coating one side with chocolate and almonds, but if you are a Buttercrunch junkie and want to coat both sides be my guest, the instructions below give you that option. For me, the single side only coating offered the perfect balance of toffee, chocolate and nuts, but hey I'm not the boss of you, do what you want!
I made a batch of this to bring to my mom at Christmas, but sadly my nephews got wind of it and snarfed down the whole container before my mom even knew it was there. A few little almond crumbs and shards of toffee were all that was left after the boys' feeding frenzy. Given how many different holiday sweets we had at our feast she didn't complain, but I DO need to remember to make another batch just for her the next time we get together. Perhaps it will be my Mother's Day treat for her this year.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 cups whole almonds (4 cups if you plan to coat both sides of the toffee)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 pounds 70% cacao chocolate (3 pounds if coating both sides)
- Heat the oven to 350℉ (177℃) . Line a rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with a silpat baking mat.
- Toast the almonds on a separate baking sheet until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and chop finely.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and water over low to medium-low heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook, whisking, until the butter has melted and the mixture is emulsified. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly at a consistent speed, until the mixture registers 300℉ (149℃) on the candy thermometer, 15-20 minutes.
- Pour the hot toffee onto the silpat covered baking sheet. Be careful as the toffee is very hot. Using an offset spatula, spread into a thin, even layer over the entire baking sheet and let cool at least 45 minutes before adding the chocolate.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and gently stir with a rubber spatula until it has melted completely, looks smooth, and is no more than 110℉ (43℃). Wipe off any excess oil on top of the cooled toffee with a paper towel. Spread the warm chocolate over the toffee and sprinkle with the nuts. Let set at room temperature until hard, 20 -30 minutes.
- If desired, once the first side has set, remove the baking mat, flip the toffee over and cover the other side with additional chocolate and nuts.
- Break the cooled toffee into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.