How to Make Toffee
When I walk into a candy store and peer at all the chocolates and candies behind the glass counters, I can’t resist getting the toffee. I’ve come up with a version that you can easily make at home that tastes exactly the same as the candy shop version – topped with chocolate and crushed nuts.
While most of us just call this toffee, others may call it English toffee or butter toffee. It’s super buttery with a nice crunch – not too hard to bite into and not overly sticky.
Ingredients and Equipment
The good news is that you don’t need to buy anything fancy to make toffee; you may even have everything you need in your house already:
- Butter – I use unsalted butter. If you only have salted, that’s fine. Leave off the salt in the recipe if that’s the case.
- Sugar – Sugar is the main ingredient in this recipe. It’s a must in candy-making!
- Chocolate chips – You can use any kind you like. I love making this recipe with dark chocolate chips!
- Pecans – You’ll want to chop them super finely (the photo above is from before they were finely chopped). I recommend using a food processor.
- Parchment paper – Simply greasing your pan won’t do the trick in keeping the candy from sticking. You’ll need parchment paper. I even grease the parchment paper to be extra safe!
- Candy thermometer – There are people who will tell you that you can make candy without a thermometer. And, it’s true, VERY experienced candy makers can make candy without a thermometer. However, the rest of us need one. Using one is the best way to ensure that the toffee comes out with the correct consistency.
While I use pecans, you can use any nut that you like. Many people use almonds or walnuts.
How It’s Made
Start by adding butter, sugar, water, and salt to a pot. Even though it fits into a really small pot, choose a medium-sized one because the last thing you want is hot sugar bubbling over onto your stove.
Add a candy thermometer to the pot. You won’t need it just yet, but it is so much easier to put it in the pot before it gets hot.
Bring to boil over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring gently the whole time.
Keep stirring until the thermometer reads 290 F (143 C). Then, immediately remove from the heat.
This is considered just above the soft crack stage. The toffee will be a beautiful golden color at this point.
Quickly stir in a splash of vanilla extract and pour into an 8″ square pan fitted with greased parchment paper.
Wait a few minutes so the toffee just begins to set, and then top with chocolate chips. Because the toffee is so hot, you don’t need to melt the chips; they will melt just by touching it.
Cover with foil and let sit for five minutes. Then, spread the chocolate with a spatula.
Sprinkle nuts over the top and refrigerate for at least two hours to harden.
Once it’s chilled, the challenge is breaking it into perfectly-sized pieces to eat. I like breaking it up with hammer! It works really well and it’s super satisfying.
I suggest putting the toffee into a Ziploc bag and placing it upside-down on a towel or a cutting board (so you don’t damage your countertop). Then, whack it with a hammer until you like the size of the pieces.
If you don’t have a hammer handy, you could also use a rolling pin.
Expert Tips and FAQs
The most important part of making toffee is cooking it to the correct temperature. The temperature rises very quickly as it approaches 290 F (143 C).
DO NOT step away from the pot or you risk burning the candy and having to start all over again.
It may take a while to get to the correct temperature, but don’t be tempted to raise the heat. Low and slow is the best way to go here. You are much more likely to burn the toffee using high heat.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks. Or, freeze for several months.
Yes, you can add any extracts or spices to the toffee that you like. Mix them in as soon as you take the toffee off of the heat. Try adding a little cayenne pepper for a fun twist.
If you can’t get it to stay, put a drop of the hot toffee under the parchment to hold it in place.
Sure! It’s great completely plain.
Yes! Then, it becomes something more like a pecan brittle. The main difference is that brittle is typically cooked to the hard crack stage and is just slightly firmer than toffee.
- Candy thermometer
- 1 cup unsalted butter cut into about 8 pieces
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips any kind – I prefer dark
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- Fill a medium-sized saucepan with butter, sugar, salt, and water. Stick a candy thermometer into it.
- Cook on medium-low heat, stirring gently and frequently until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
- Continue cooking and stirring regularly until the candy thermometer reads 290 F. The toffee should be a nice golden color.
- Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour into an 8" square baking dish prepared with greased parchment paper.
- Let the toffee sit for a couple of minutes and then top with chocolate chips.
- Cover with foil and let sit for five minutes for the chips to melt.
- Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the toffee and cover with chopped pecans.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Break into pieces by placing the toffee square in a Ziploc bag, turning it upside down, and hitting it with a hammer or a rolling pin. (Make sure you protect your countertop by putting the bag onto a cutting board or towel before hitting it.)
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