Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Toffee

During Christmas is about the only time I will venture to make homemade candy.  Toffee is one of my favorites, and when I made this on a previous Christmas for my team at work it got three thumbs up and a (joking) marriage proposal.  It's on the list each year now.

It takes some patience and the hints will really help it turn out, but it's worth the trouble for special friends and family. For ease of serving you may wish to lightly spray whatever dish you use to pour the toffee with a little non-stick spray.

Dark Chocolate Toffee

2 cups butter (use the best quality butter you can buy, it's a key ingredient)
2 cups white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt
drop of Penzey's Mexican Vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. With distinct smoke, wine and fruit flavors, this is not your childhood chocolate chip. Low sugar allowed the chocolate flavor to really shine and the shape makes for easy melting.)
1 cup finely chopped almonds and pecans, mixed

Instructions: (Basic instructions in BOLD, helpful hints in regular type).

Before you do anything, test your candy thermometer. It should be 212 degrees F. in boiling water with the thermometer about 1/2 inch off the bottom of the pan (don't let it touch). If off by much, get a new thermometer and make the recipe another day

In a large heavy bottomed pan (a wide heavy bottomed, fairly shallow cast iron skillet is perfect) combine the butter, sugar, salt and a drop of vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. (I whisked until the butter was melted with a wooden spoon, in an up and down motion, being careful to get all the separated butter from the sides of the pan incorporated.)

Allow to come to a steady but not rolling boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F, (137 degrees C), stirring occasionally (it should not burn on medium). This takes about 20 minutes.

You are aiming for a final temperature of 285 to 295. The higher the temp the more brittle the toffee will be. 285 is the "soft crack" stage where the toffee may be somewhat soft and pliable after cooling. If it seems to be rising faster than that, turn the heat down a tiny bit. If slower, do NOT increase the temperature, just cook it longer. If you cook it too fast and too hot it will separate.

At 285 put a drop of toffee in a cup of ice water, it should be brittle. If not, cook to 295 for brittle, melt in your mouth toffee. I cooked it 5 minutes past 285 degrees and it was perfect. Remember to look for the dark amber color in addition to the cooking temperature.

When the toffee is done, pour into the prepared pan. If the top appears a little oily, blot with a clean paper towel, that will help the chocolate adhere. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set to soften for a couple minutes, then spread into a thin layer. Sprinkle the almond/pecan mixture over the chocolate, pressing in slightly (put your hand in a baggie to keep the mess down).

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container. In an airtight container it will freeze nicely for up to a year. During the winter, store a container of this in your chilly shop. It makes a wonderfully brittle treat with a cup of hot coffee on Christmas Eve.


  1. Sounds yummy! Back in the day I used to go nuts over "sea foam" or divinity fudge. They were Grandmas favorites.


  2. Made something similar some years back, using crystalline fructose (not HFCS) and sugar-free chocolate.
    It was stellar, but intake was self-limiting, as mannitol (or other sugar alcohol)-sweetened chocolate has a self-limiting effect (It can cause gas and 'distress in the lower tract' when used injudiciously) :-)


  3. I may be crazy, but I didn't see anything about how to "prepare" the "pan." A search found references to "pan" in testing the candy thermometer, cooking the toffee in a "heavy-bottomed pan", and the "prepared pan," but no explanation as to how to prepare it.

    I'd like to try this on Thursday as a gift to friends I visit on Friday, so help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thanks Dave - I added a note to spray what you pour the toffee into with a little non stick spray.

  4. I learned one thing when I made toffee; it takes practice. Also I think the humidity affects the candy. I have stuck to caramels since the toffee disaster. Yours looks delicious.

  5. I like your use of bold and regular print. I will adopt this practice for clarity.


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