English Toffee & Our Holiday Treat Exchange - A Great Tradition.

For the past several years, the neighbors on our street get together for an annual Holiday Treat Exchange.  Many years ago, it started as a “cookie exchange”. Now it has morphed into other treats and savory items.  But, the idea is the same, “bring a tray, take a tray”.  You come with about 36 treats and the recipe to share, and then you build a “to go” tray of sweets and treats from all the other neighbors.  The result is a great abundance of bite sized morsels that are great to have on hand for guests over the holidays.  You don’t have to go through the stress of making all sorts of different holiday sweets.  You make one type for the night, but leave with a great variety of new ones to try!

It’s great fun for the adults and kids to get together! There are games, white elephant gift exchanges, and whatever else the hosts want to include.  There is often a seasonal specialty cocktail to mark the occasion as well.

Part of the neighborhood invite....

My “go to” treat for the holiday treat exchange is English Toffee.  I make one with and one without nuts so that those with nut allergies can also indulge! One serving can make quite a few bit size servings.

Here’s a sample of the recipe that accompanies the treat:

Butter, sugar (not shown), chocolate and nuts. 

Toffee made with and without nuts
Toffee made with chopped toasted almond. 

English Toffee with Cashews

English Toffee
(Makes about 4-5 dozen bite-sized pieces.)

1 pound butter (4 sticks) - (I recommend Kerrygold butter)
2 cups white sugar
chopped nuts (don't use walnuts; they're too oily and don't stick to the chocolate.)
1 bag of chocolate chips (approx. 10-12 oz.)


candy thermometer (I use a digital laser one.)
saucepan with heavy bottom
cookie sheet with sides that go up a little


Put butter and sugar into saucepan and cook it over medium heat until the mixture reaches approximately 295° (takes about 15 mins.) This is the most boring part of making the toffee, because you have to stir it pretty much constantly while it cooks, so that the bottom of the mixture won't burn. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up and rush this step. The sugar butter mixture will go through several stages as it heats (caramel, nougat, soft crack, etc.) Do not reduce the heat while cooking, or you risk having the butter and sugar separate. Keep the heat at medium throughout. When the mixture reaches approximately 290-295°, pour it onto the cookie sheet. Tilt it around to get it evenly distributed. I recommend using a digital laser thermometer so that you get a quick, accurate reading. The toffee increases in temperature quickly toward the end of the heating process.

While the toffee is still hot, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Wait a few seconds for the heat of the toffee to melt the chocolate. Spread the melted chocolate evenly with a spatula. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle on whatever quantity of chopped nuts you’d like. I love using toasted almonds or cashews. Then put the whole pan in the fridge.

When the chocolate is hardened, you can take the toffee out and using a big knife, break it into manageable pieces. Some of the chocolate might break away from the buttery toffee….these are the perfect pieces to use as samples or ice cream toppings!

I used the following items:


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