english toffee tower

Growing up I loved Heath bars. We most frequently enjoyed them on our birthday when Mom would make a deliciously simple frosting of freshly whipped cream, chocolate syrup, vanilla, and chopped bits of those yummy toffee bars which she would smother between the layers and on the outside of a sliced angel food cake. If memory serves me we kept the cake in the freezer until it was time to light the candles and sing “Happy Birthday”.  The cake never really froze solid, but rather just kept the candy laden whipped topping from sliding off. The recipe came from a friend of my mother’s late sister, Berta. Although not overly fussy, the cake was divine and became a tradition in our family – I even think my 50-something year old brother still requests this one for his birthday, even today. Old habits die hard.

Frozen Angel Dessert

I remember the first time I ever tasted homemade English toffee. It was shortly after I graduated from college at a holiday party at my first “real” job. I was a social worker helping birthmothers make adoption plans at a private adoption agency when I received a gift of homemade milk chocolate almond toffee from a co-worker – I was blown away. It was a far cry from a Heath bar. It was crunchy yet melty, with toasted sliced almonds stuck into the chocolate coating. I insisted upon the recipe, which my friend quickly shared, and I think I’ve made it every Christmas since then. I’ve tweaked it a bit, swapping out her mild mannered Hershey bar for a good quality bittersweet chocolate, adding a pinch of sea salt, a touch of dark rum (which could certainly be omitted) in lieu of some of the water and opting to add in some brown sugar along with the white that she called for in her recipe.

English toffee collage

If you haven’t made candy before, it can seem a little intimidating – a required candy thermometer clipped to the edge of a pan of bubbling sugar – what if I burn it? Or worse yet, I get burned?

I promise it’s not as hard as it seems. Your effort (and courage) will be paid back in moans of delight once your friends taste the crispy, caramely, nutty goodness with the obligatory robe of chocolate (bittersweet, if you please).

English Toffee Sheet

As I write this post I am reminded of the small tub of leftover almond toffee I made before Christmas that sits in the back of my fridge, almost forgotten. After making 8 batches of this recipe before the holidays for gifts, parties, and to enjoy ourselves, my cravings for it began to dwindle. Until now, when I’m reminded I can bring it new life in the aforementioned, “Frozen Angel Dessert”.

english toffee stack

While this Salted English Toffee is delicious as a holiday treat in December, keep in mind Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it would make a great gift for your “someone special”, the kid’s teachers, or that babysitter that’s so sweet to babysit on Valentine’s Day. Oh heck, just sprinkle some on a big bowl of coffee ice cream with hot fudge, because you’re worth it!

Homemade Salted English Toffee with Dark Chocolate and Rum
This homemade salted English toffee is over the top with delicious almonds, creamery butter, and a touch of dark rum. You will need a candy thermometer to successfully make the toffee, but the end result is worth the small investment.
Recipe type: Candy
  • ½ pound butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup dark rum (or substitute with another ½ cup water)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups whole or sliced almonds, divided
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
  • fleur de sel (optional for sprinkling)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Place 2 cups almonds on a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until you can smell their nutty aroma. Remove from oven to cool. Remove 1 cup of almonds from pan, coarsely chop, and reserve for use inside the hot toffee mixture. Remove remaining 1 cup nuts from pan to finely chop with either a knife or a food processor. These almond bits will be sprinkled onto the melted chocolate coating on the toffee.
  2. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with either heavy duty foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Place butter into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and melt on medium low heat. Add sugar, brown sugar, water, rum, and salt stirring to combine.
  4. Place a candy thermometer into the pot, making certain the bottom of the thermometer bulb does not touch the pan bottom as well as assuring the bulb is immersed in the butter/sugar mixture to accurately calculate the temperature.
  5. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. After the sugar has dissolved, stir occasionally until the mixture begins to boil, at which time you must stop stirring. As the mixture boils, and begins to darken in color, wipe a water dampened pastry brush around the inside of the pot a few times to discourage the formation of sugar crystals, which can ruin a good batch of toffee.
  6. When the temperature reaches 270 degrees fahrenheit, add 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds. Continue cooking, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 295 degrees. Remove the pan from the heat and very gently and quickly stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan. Do not scrape the remaining mixture at the bottom of the saucepan onto the sheet pan. Smooth the toffee out with an offset spatula and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate onto the hot toffee, allowing it to melt for 5 minutes before spreading it evenly. Immediately sprinkle the finely chopped almonds on top of the melted chocolate. Shake or tap the pan gently to encourage the nuts to settle into the chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator to allow the toffee to set up. After 30 minutes, remove from the refrigerator and break into shards.
  8. Stores well at room temperature but refrigeration is recommended for longer storage times.



Gluten Free Creamy Pumpkin Mousse with Gingersnap Crust and Toffee Crumble

by Donna Hann November 19, 2015

The leaves have all fallen from the tall oak trees in the yard. They find themselves in large crispy heaps by the pond where they will begin their next journey, commingling in the compost heap with eggshells, coffee grinds, and earthworms. The forecast tells of snow. Another season is almost upon us. These visible signs […]

Read the full article →

Rock your World Gluten Free Cheddar N’ Bacon Buttermilk Waffle and Fried Chicken Sammiches

by Donna Hann November 12, 2015
Thumbnail image for Rock your World Gluten Free Cheddar N’ Bacon Buttermilk Waffle and Fried Chicken Sammiches

  One of the best things about this year has been establishing and nurturing friendships with some “in-the-neighborhood” women. It has felt effortless and fulfilling, like that bite of rich bittersweet chocolate after a salty snack (don’t deny it, you know what I’m talking about). Prior to my horseback riding accident two years ago, I […]

Read the full article →

Inspiration: A Beautiful Rustic Chic Farm Wedding

by Donna Hann October 5, 2015
Thumbnail image for Inspiration: A Beautiful Rustic Chic Farm Wedding

  Overlooking the soybean field between the house and barn on my parent’s 100 acre farm was a lovely choice for my brother’s recent rustic chic wedding. The sky was clear, the day was warm (but not unbearably so), and two families came together to celebrate a new beginning.  

Read the full article →

A Backyard Camping Birthday Party

by Donna Hann August 3, 2015
Campout Cake

Now that I’m busy planning my daughter’s 11th birthday celebration that will be upon us this month, I’ve realized I never shared with you what I planned for her 10th birthday. She requested an overnight campout party with her girlfriends and as a lover of camping myself, I was happy to oblige. Once the girls […]

Read the full article →

Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade

by Donna Hann June 9, 2015
Thumbnail image for Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade

Homemade Minty Strawberry Raspberry Lemonade   Save Print A simple syrup is typically a mixture of equal parts sugar and water that has been heated to dissolve the sugar. It is great for sweetening iced tea, lemonade, and cocktails, eliminating that gritty sugary texture reminiscent of county fair style lemonade. Author: The Culinary Artist Recipe […]

Read the full article →

Amazing Gluten Free Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts

by Donna Hann May 28, 2015
Thumbnail image for Amazing Gluten Free Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts

Today is the last day of school for my chillins’ before summer vacation begins. I can hardly believe another school year has come and gone. I know most parents lament this, but post accident I have significant difficulty tracking the passing of time. My Nicholas is finishing up seventh grade, while my Aubrey is completing […]

Read the full article →

Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free

by Donna Hann April 10, 2015
Thumbnail image for Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free

For nearly two years this blog has had no voice, due in large part to an accident that I recently shared with you here. Your responses to that blog post were surprising, overwhelming, heart-warming, and encouraging to me. I feel your supportive and prayerful messages in my heart. I reread them often. I surely didn’t […]

Read the full article →

Discovering My New Normal

by Donna Hann March 22, 2015
Thumbnail image for Discovering My New Normal

Discovering my new normal… I’m easing back in. I’m finding my way. I’m searching to find a friend in gratefulness for all that has happened to me since I last shared with you here. I’m scrounging up my confidence and my courage. I am tip toeing up to the keyboard afraid to read what might […]

Read the full article →

The Immokalee Produce Market and a Guacamole Recipe

by Donna Hann April 9, 2013

Last week was spring break and my family and I were fortunate to travel to southwest Florida to visit my “snowbird” parents who were on an extended vacation of their own there.  This was a special trip as my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy, and entered remission all since August.  It has been […]

Read the full article →