english toffee

Now before you go getting your candy thermometer out, these are cookies … not candy. (If you only knew how phenomenally hilarious it is that I even mentioned a candy thermometer. More on that later.)

This recipe comes to me through my Mama, Carolyn Crosby Pohl, from my Nana, Olive Bliss Pohl. Nana and Pap-Pap were my Pennsylvania grandparents. My son likely doesn’t remember Nana (you kids called her GG) at all, but my daughter remembers her quite well. She was an amazing cook and wicked at small stakes cards. She kept her change in a small margarine tub and brought it with her whenever she came to visit, because the grownups almost always ended up playing cards after dishes were done and baths were had by the kids.

She wrote the recipe out sometime around 1955, and my blessed mother kept it. She keeps stuff that matters … and very little else : ) Above is the photocopy she sent me of the original recipe. My favorite part is the phone number of the lumber company “Call your lumber number – Rochester 5297.”

english toffee



Okay, so I totally don’t expect you to try to read that recipe. Besides, we’ve done some tweaking, of course. So here’s Mama’s version of Nana’s version of English Toffee Cookies.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (don’t you dare use margarine. First of all … eww. Even ants don’t like margarine. Second, it just won’t taste good.)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 5 regular sized Hershey candy bars (NOT with almonds, no matter what that vintage recipe says.)

Have all your ingredients at room temperature. (Unless your room is in Hell. That wouldn’t work out very well for the butter.) Toss everything except the Hershey bars in a mixing bowl. (If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, use that. If you don’t, get one. They come in seriously adorable colors now, although mine, of course, is a flat silver.) My mama and my Nana would probably tell you to add the flour a little at a time, but I never do. (I also don’t separate my colors from my whites when I do laundry.)

When the dough is nicely incorporated, turn it out onto an ungreased cookie sheet with sides. Just a regular sized one, too … not one of those hugical ones. There are some numbers written on that vintage recipe, but I never know kitchen sizes, so eh. Non-stick is good, too … creates a wonderful buttery caramel effect on the bottom and sides of the cookie. Press the dough evenly onto the entire cookie sheet. Get all the way in the corners. Those are my favorite pieces.

Bake at 350° about 15 minutes. The top should be a beautiful golden brown. Start taking the occasional peek at about 12 minutes, because you don’t want to overcook these. They’ll crumble when you cut them into squares.

As soon as you take the cookie out of the oven, lay your 5 Hershey bars on it, evenly spaced. Wait for the tops of the candy to turn shiny (patience, grasshopper) and then spread the chocolate evenly over the surface. Cool completely and cut into squares.

And here’s Mama’s handwritten copy : )

english toffee squares

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