Grandma Nash’s Best Butter Almond English Toffee is one to be handed down through generations. The crunchy, buttery toffee and toasted almonds with a thick layer of chocolate makes this one of our favorite candies and a Christmas tradition that we love to share with friends & neighbors!
For the past few years, I have made 8 or more batches of this fabulous butter almond English toffee to go on plates of goodies (along with this Rocky Road Fudge) that we take around to friends and neighbors in our area, along with Christmas cards. And I always make a batch to be lovingly packaged up and shipped off to Paul’s grandma (our girls’ great-grandma), from whom this recipe comes. She is in her 90’s now and no longer makes her famous toffee herself, so I have taken over making it for her and making sure she has a supply to share with her friends who come to visit during December.
Even though you could technically make this recipe without a candy thermometer, I highly recommend investing in a good one. They aren’t too expensive and it’s a great stocking stuffer for anyone who might like to cook but hasn’t done much candy-making! And it almost makes toffee-making a foolproof endeavor since all you have to do is get the toffee up to the right temperature.
Paul’s Grandma Madge clipped the recipe for this English Toffee from the San Jose Mercury Newspaper in 1962 and she made multiple batches of it every year after that. Her toffee is famous in the Nash family, so one Christmas a few years back I asked her if I could get a copy of her recipe so that I could learn to make it since we don’t live close by and Paul always raved about her toffee. She pulled out a box of recipe cards and had the original newspaper clipping taped to a card with her handwritten notations “Delicious ’62” and “Christmas Candies” over the top, along with recipes for “Creamy Caramels” and “No-Bake Holiday Orange Balls”. I haven’t tried either of the other two recipes from those newspaper clippings, but can attest to this “Butter Almond Toffee” being particularly delicious. The only change I have made is to double the amount of chocolate called for in the original recipe. And I can’t imagine who is going to complain about an adjustment like that. I also rewrote the instructions a bit to include some steps that I have found helpful.
Grandma Nash is such a wonderful, interesting lady. She goes by her middle name, Madge, instead of Gwendolyn, which is her first name. My dad does the same thing so when our Rose was born, we decided to do the same for her and have her go by her middle name as a nod to each of them. Grandma Nash was born in Mona, Utah in December, 1924 but raised her family in San Jose, California. Paul grew up in the house next door to her and she was his piano teacher, as well as teaching 4th grade at an elementary school for decades. She is still really sharp and loves to discuss books and politics (she’s a staunch democrat) and classical music. And she makes the best toffee ever.
I have used a large pot and quadrupled the recipe with great success, since I usually make between 8-12 batches. I still divide the chocolate and almond into separate bowls, and pour the toffee out into individual baking sheets to set, but I cook all four batches at the same time with no problem.
You want to make sure that this butter almond English toffee is completely set before breaking it into pieces. I find that it is easiest to let the toffee set overnight, then use a butter knife to jab firmly down into the toffee, which cracks apart into scrumptious buttery, chocolatey, almond covered shards. While the recipe calls for semisweet chocolate, I have used milk chocolate in the past instead and it is also delicious. Totally go with whatever is your personal preference.
I’m so glad to have this cherished recipe in my collection, just like my mom’s Chicken Cordon Bleu or my aunt Becky’s Black Forest Cake. I have one more “heritage” recipe to share before Christmas and it’s another candy recipe for the fudge that my grandpa has made for forever. I’ll be posting that next week! But be sure to give this toffee recipe a try or pin it for later! I’m sure your family will love it as much as ours does!
- 1 cup roasted almonds, chopped
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (about 6 ounces), finely chopped
- Candy thermometer
To toast the almonds, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread whole almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 10-15 minutes, until fragrant and toasted, but being careful not to burn them. Let cool, then chop into small pieces and set aside.
Butter a baking sheet or silipat mat, then sprinkle half of the chopped almonds on the buttered surface and set aside.
In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, then add both types of sugar and the water. Stir to combine using a long-handled wooden spoon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage), usually between 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in the baking soda, working quickly. The toffee will bubble and foam a bit when reacting to the baking soda. Immediately pour the hot candy over the almonds in the prepared baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer with the back of your stirring spoon; let cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before sprinkling the chopped chocolate over the toffee. The heat of the candy will melt the chocolate after just a few minutes and then you can spread it out into an even layer with the back of spatula or knife.
Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate and press down lightly with the back of a clean spoon. Let the toffee cool completely and the chocolate re-harden and set, then break into pieces.
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