Toffee

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Our favorite homemade candy: Toffee! My Toffee is coated in chocolate and topped with sugared almonds.

Toffee is the perfect treat to give as a holiday gift for neighbors or coworkers, and it makes a great addition to any party or get together. It’s a rich, tasty, and gluten-free treat that everyone will love!

Today I’m sharing all my tips and tricks, plus the tools you’ll need to perfect this delicious candy. 

Overhead image of Toffee, ready to be eaten.

Toffee is hands down one of my favorite treats. I’ll look for any excuse to make a batch, so I especially love the holidays when I can make lots and share with friends and neighbors. 

This recipe is a little unique from most because instead of adding chopped nuts on top, we candy and toast the nuts before they go in. It doesn’t take too much extra time, but makes a huge difference. Trust me when I say Toffee always receives rave reviews!

Common problems and how to avoid them

Making toffee can be tricky, but understanding why common problems occur and how you can avoid them is the secret to making perfect toffee!

  • Crystallization: The candy base should be smooth and silky, but it can easily turn into a grainy mess if you’re not careful. Crystallization occurs when you heat the toffee too quickly and the sugar crystallizes on the side of the pot and gets mixed back into the toffee. That’s what creates a grainy texture. 
    • To prevent crystallization, take care to completely dissolve all the sugar before you bring the mixture to a boil. If there is sugar adhered to side of the pan before the mixture has come to a boil, you can tightly cover the pan and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Covering the pan traps in steam, which melts the sugar crystals on the side of the pan. You can also wet a pastry brush with water and brush any sugar off the sides.
    • I also recommend rubbing some butter around the sides of the pan before adding sugar and then adding sugar in the center of the pan. Putting the sugar too close to the edge will make it more likely to cause crystal issues.
  • Separation: Another common problem many people face when making toffee is when the mixture separates, creating a buttery layer on the top of a thicker, sticky layer. Separation occurs when the liquid in the toffee evaporates too quickly. It can also happen when the toffee mixture is stirred too vigorously. Although the salt in the recipe should help stabilize the mixture and prevent separation, be sure to cook the toffee on a low temperature, stirring regularly, slowly, and evenly. Never whisk or briskly stir the toffee.
    • If it does begin to separate, you can try adding a tablespoon or two of water and continue to stir. Sometimes this helps get the mixture back together again. More troubleshooting on separation here.
  • Burning the toffee: Toffee is one of the easiest recipes to burn. To prevent burning, keep the temperature at medium, and be sure to use a candy thermometer! As the temperature rises, the toffee will get darker. Toffee should be an amber color. If the toffee become too dark, it has burned and will not have a good flavor or texture. To avoid a scorched bottom, make sure to keep stirring the mixture as it cooks. This is especially important near the end.

Up-close side picture of stacked Toffee pieces.

Do I need a candy thermometer to make toffee?

If you want to make the prefect toffee, you need a good candy thermometer. I would never recommend making toffee for your first time without one; it is too difficult to judge when it’s ready to be pulled off the stove.

Here is the candy thermometer I use and would highly recommend adding to your kitchen. (affiliate)

How do I make sure my candy thermometer is accurate?

Just a couple of degrees can be the differences between delicious toffee and a burnt mess. Candy thermometers should be regularly tested for accuracy to ensure you are getting your mixture to the right temperature. 

To test your thermometer: Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and then insert the thermometer and leave it in for several minutes to get an accurate reading. The bulb should be completely immersed in the water, but should not touch the bottom of the pan. At sea level, the thermometer should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. If your thermometer reads above or below this, you will need to adjust for that amount when preparing your toffee! For example, if the thermometer reads 202 degrees, you would wait until your toffee reaches 285 degrees, rather than 295 degrees.

I recommend a regular check for thermometer accuracy and adjust your measurements accordingly!

Overhead image of the prepped toffee.

Top toffee tips

  • Do not increase the heat until the sugar is 100% dissolved over low heat. This will take 10-12 minutes, which requires patience. Make sure to brush the sides with a wet pastry brush if sugar is clinging the sides.
  • Stir steadily and consistently, always stirring in the same direction at a slow speed. If you whisk or stir too quickly, the toffee will separate. 
  • Make sure the candy thermometer is accurate (more on that in the sections of text above), and make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot when making the toffee.
  • The pan you use makes a huge difference. Use a light-colored ceramic pan that is wide; here is my favorite pot for making toffee. (affiliate)
  • Top the toffee with good-quality dipping chocolate (not chocolate chips). Chocolate chips are meant to withstand baking in the oven (and to hold their shape) so they don’t melt and spread as well on the toffee. 
  • Wait about five minutes before adding the chocolate to the toffee. Spread the toffee mixture evenly in the pan, and wait for it to firm up before spreading the chocolate on evenly with a spatula. If the toffee cooled off too much before you could add the chocolate, use a hair blow dryer to warm it up again.

Toffee is the perfect addition to your holiday dessert platters!

Variety is the spice of life! Here are a few other recipes you could pair with this toffee to create beautiful and unique dessert platters or gifts:

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Toffee

5 from 5 votes
Our favorite Christmas candy -- Toffee! This toffee is coated in chocolate and topped with sugared almonds.
Print Recipe

Toffee

5 from 5 votes
Our favorite Christmas candy -- Toffee! This toffee is coated in chocolate and topped with sugared almonds.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword toffee
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Candy Setting up 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 50 minutes
Servings 20 13x18 inch pan of toffee
Calories 346kcal
Cost $5.56

Equipment

  • Non-Stick Half Sheet Pan (13 x 18 Inches)
  • Silpat Liner
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Light-colored interior sturdy pot
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients

Sugared Almonds

  • 3 tablespoons (40g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (210g) whole almonds

Toffee

  • 2 cups (453g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (do not use margarine)
  • 2 cups (400g) white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (reduce to 1 teaspoon if sensitive to salt or greatly reduce if using table salt; I recommend using fine sea salt for this toffee)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (305g) chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate (can use milk chocolate as well for a sweeter toffee) Note 1

Instructions

  • SUGARED ALMONDS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix in 1 tablespoon water and stir until you get a glaze. Add in the almonds and toss until evenly coated. Spread almonds out evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until shiny and light golden. Remove almonds from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer almonds to a cutting board and give them a rough/coarse chop. Set aside for later. Here's a good time to also chop and measure your chocolate.
  • TOFFEE PREP: Line a rimmed half sheet pan (13x18 inches) with a Silpat baking mat or generously butter the pan. I highly recommend the Silpat baking mat for ease of removal and cleaning.
  • LOW HEAT: Heat a large, 2-quart ceramic pan over low heat for 30 seconds. Take one of the sticks of butter and rub it over the bottom and the sides of the pan. Then add that stick of butter to the pot along with the remaining butter. Carefully add the sugar to the very center of the pan and pour the water carefully right on top of the sugar. Add the salt. We want to avoid any sugar crystals getting on the sides of the pan. Keeping the mixture over low heat, use a wooden spoon to stir slowly and gently to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Be patient during this process; it should take 10-12 minutes to completely dissolve the sugar. (Low and slow is the key here.) Use a wet pastry brush to brush any sugar off the sides of the pan. A light-colored pan helps you to see if any sugar is clinging to the sides. Near the end of the 10-12 minutes the mixture will likely start boiling up a little bit.
  • MED HEAT: Increase the heat to a little over medium (but not quite medium high). Add the candy thermometer to the pan and make sure it's not touching the bottom. From here on out, stir constantly at a low and even speed and in the same direction. The mixture will come to a boil and slowly start to take on color. This takes about 8-10 minutes. Cook the toffee to hard-crack stage (300 degrees F at sea level) (Note: In high-altitude areas, such as Utah where I live, cook to 285-290). Watch it very carefully as the heat is rising at the end, because it may reach the temperature quickly. The minute it reaches hard-crack stage, pour it out from the pot onto the prepared sheet pan. Working quickly, tilt the sheet pan from side to side, and up and down, to get the candy in one even layer and to fill most of the pan. It's okay if it goes up the sides a little.
  • TOP TOFFEE: Let toffee sit at room temperature until it is firm to the touch but still hot, 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly on the toffee.The chocolate melts quickly; let it melt for a few minutes and then use an offset spatula to evenly spread the chocolate over the toffee. Quickly add in the chopped and sugared almonds. Gently press them in and then let the toffee stand at room temperature until completely firm, about 6-8 hours. When the toffee is completely firm, use your hands to break it into bite-sized pieces.
  • STORAGE: The toffee can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I like to use a mixture of all three chocolates, but add your favorite. If you don't like overly sweet, only use dark chocolate. If you like super sweet, use milk chocolate. Use high-quality chocolate bars and give them a coarse chop before adding to the toffee.
Tips:
  • Do not increase the heat until the sugar is 100% dissolved over low heat. This will take 10-12 minutes, which requires patience. Make sure to brush the sides with a wet pastry brush if sugar is clinging the sides.
  • Stir steadily and consistently, always stirring in the same direction at a slow speed. If you whisk or stir too quickly, the toffee will separate. 
  • Make sure the candy thermometer is accurate (more on that in the sections of text above), and make sure the thermometer doesn't touch the bottom of the pot when making the toffee.
  • The pan you use makes a huge difference. Use a light-colored ceramic pan that is wide; here is my favorite pot for making toffee. (affiliate)
  • Top the toffee with good-quality dipping chocolate (not chocolate chips). Chocolate chips are meant to withstand baking in the oven (and to hold their shape) so they don't melt and spread as well on the toffee. 
  • Wait about five minutes before adding the chocolate to the toffee. Spread the toffee mixture evenly in the pan, and wait for it to firm up before spreading the chocolate on evenly with a spatula. If the toffee cooled off too much before you could add the chocolate, use a hair blow dryer to warm it up again.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 346kcal

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Nutrition facts in toffee

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