English Toffee and Christmas: The Sweetest Memories from Grandma's Kitchen

By Christine B

"When I was a little girl some of my happiest memories were formed at grandma's house. We four kids lived next door to grandma and every holiday grandma, grandpa and their six adult kids, their spouses and all twelve of us cousins gathered there to celebrate. We ran outside and played (often in the giant dollhouse grandpa made in the backyard for us grands) and the grown ups sat and laughed  in the kitchen. Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, etc. It didn't matter. When it was a holiday it was at grandma's. Although I have numerous memories of us spending group time together, I have very few memories of me and grandma spending one-on-one time with her. I suppose that's why this particular memory is so vivid to me. It was special. I was a teen at the time and am not sure why I went to grandma's this particular day. All I remember is that she was making a batch of her most amazing English toffee and the two of us sat at her kitchen table talking, mostly me asking questions and listening to her stories. She was always willing to answer. I had fun that day watching her pour this great recipe upside down onto a cookie sheet (chocolate and nuts were securely buried underneath the toffee). When it was finished she handed me a hammer and told me to smack away!! That was so much fun! Once I flipped those broken pieces over and was able to sample some I knew I was in heaven.

Well, thirty years later and now grandma is the one in heaven and I am left here with that memory. It makes me smile and I want to recreate it with my own grandchildren but, sadly, no one has grandma's recipe. I've asked everyone. So I've decided to do my best to find the recipe that looks closest to the one I remembered making with grandma. That recipe is posted here. I suppose it isn't important if I've posted the exact recipe because what is most important is the part I will never forget. Thank you grandma for that memory. You are missed more than you can know."



  • 1 pound real butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • about 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • chopped walnuts, if desired
  • candy thermometer
  • wooden spoon
  • large sauce pan
  • bakers half sheet



1. First, melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Don’t burn it! Once the butter starts melting, attach the candy thermometer to side of the pan.

2. Once the butter melts, stir in the water, sugar, and light corn syrup. Cook until it reaches 300 degrees F, or the hard crack stage. It will take about 15 minutes so just keep stirring.

3. Once the toffee mixture has reached that temperature, pour the super hot, sweet-smelling hot toffee mixture onto an extra large cookie sheet.

4. Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips onto the toffee. If you keep your chocolate chips in the freezer, do not fear! They will melt just fine. You’ll want a bowl scraper to smooth the chocolate chips all over the toffee. Keep smoothing until the chocolate has melted and you have a nice, smooth layer on top.

5. Sprinkle your favorite chopped nuts on top.

6. Place cookie sheet outside (if it’s nice and cold!) or in refrigerator and leave until the toffee has hardened and the chocolate is no longer runny.

7. Once cooled completely, hit with the back of a knife (or hammer) to make uneven pieces. The most fun part of all!

8. Store in an airtight container ... if you don't eat it all in one sitting!



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