Making your own toffee at home requires a candy thermometer
and some time, but it isn't terribly difficult. You have your
choice of nuts to work with; pecans, hazelnuts, and walnuts
would all be good here. I have seen a toffee that called for
cashews, but I haven't tried those in this recipe. In addition,
while the chocolate you use for dipping must be of very good
quality, it can be straight milk chocolate or a combination
of milk and semisweet (I think that straight semisweet overwhelms
the delicate flavor of the toffee).
There's an easy way to "shape" this, if you don't want to go
to the trouble of scoring the hot toffee repeatedly. Use a 13"
by 9" pan (at least 1" deep). Line it with heavy-duty aluminum
foil, shiny side up, then butter the foil and a broad-bladed
metal spatula. When the toffee has reached the correct end temperature,
pour it immediately into the prepared pan, then quickly spread
evenly with the back of the buttered metal spatula (the toffee
mostly spreads itself, but it might need a little help). Let
cool to room temperature, then proceed as directed below
To store the dipped toffee, place it in an airtight container
and store in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature. This
would make a wonderful gift for Valentine's Day.
- 2/3 cup
pecans, very finely chopped
- 1 cup
plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into slim pats
- 2 Tbsp.
- 2 Tbsp.
light corn syrup
- Few grains
cups strained granulated sugar (strain the sugar before
measuring to remove any lumps)
- 1 lb.
good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped, OR Up to 8
ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus enough
milk chocolate to make a total weight of 1 lb., finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp.
plus 2 tsp. vegetable shortening
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pecans in single layer in foil-lined, shallow pan. Toast
in preheated oven, stirring often, about 8 minutes, or until
very fragrant and lightly golden. Remove to cooling rack; cool
completely. Measure out 1/2 cup to use in toffee; reserve remainder,
Line a 9" square pan with two lengths of regular-weight aluminum
foil such that there is about an inch of overhang on all edges
of the pan. Lightly butter the foil. Place prepared pan on a
cooling rack near stovetop. Butter the sides of a heavy-bottomed,
nonreactive two quart pot. Adjust a candy thermometer so that
the bulb does not rest on the bottom of this pot when the thermometer
is clipped onto the side (if the thermometer is mounted on a
metal frame, the bottom of the frame can rest on the bottom
of the pot). Remove thermometer from pot. Pre-warm by placing
in a separate, unbuttered two quart pot filled to within 1"
of the top with cold water; place this over medium-low heat.
Butter a large, heat-resistant rubber spatula (it MUST be heat-resistant);
a large, sharp, straight-edged knife; and a broad-bladed metal
spatula. Set all aside near stovetop.
Place butter pats, water, corn syrup, and salt into buttered
two quart pot. Set over medium-low heat and stir often until
butter is melted. Add sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar; this may
take 5 to 8 minutes or longer. When sugar is dissolved, increase
heat to medium-high; stir frequently until mixture comes to
a boil. By this time, the water in which the candy thermometer
rests should be at or close to a boil. Remove the candy thermometer
from the water, shake off, and clip onto the side of the toffee
You want the toffee mixture to come to and maintain a rolling
boil, but you may have to reduce the heat if it threatens to
boil over. Stir the boiling mixture every minute or two; you
don't need to stir quickly, slowly is fine, and don't beat it.
You might also wish to wear long sleeves and/or a potholder
while stirring, as boiling toffee will occasionally spatter.
The temperature of the toffee will increase quite quickly; once
it gets to about 260 degrees F, I stir it constantly to prevent
the now-thickened mixture from scorching. At higher temperatures,
you may notice that some of the butter has separated out of
the toffee--OK. The toffee will become thick and jelly-like,
and it will begin to brown. Cook the toffee to 300 degrees F
(this only takes about 20 minutes from the time a rolling boil
is achieved), then immediately remove from the heat. Immediately
sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of toasted nuts, and stir in quickly
with the buttered, heat-resistant rubber spatula just until
evenly distributed. Pour immediately into the prepared pan,
and spread as evenly as possible.
If you have opted to use the 13" by 9" pan, let the toffee cool
completely at room temperature. If you are using the 9" square
pan, however, allow the hot toffee to stand 6 to 7 minutes--no
longer! Now, using the buttered edge of the broad-bladed metal
spatula, begin to score the toffee into small squares (I make
64 squares per batch). Press the spatula blade straight down
through the toffee to the foil, then lift it up and repeat this
process; do not "drag" it through the hot toffee. You will probably
have to rinse the spatula blade off with hot, then cold water,
dry it, then re-butter it, at least several times, as the toffee
can stick. Try using both the blade of the metal spatula and
the straight-edged knife here, and see which works better for
you (I usually end up using both, but whichever you choose,
keep the edge buttered). Keep re-scoring the toffee, repeatedly
going back over the "lines" you've made in it, until the score
marks go at least three-fourths of the way through the toffee.
Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely. When
toffee is completely cooled, cover airtight and let stand at
room temperature if you are not proceeding with the next step
Have ready a cookie sheet lined with several layers of paper
towels. Remove the toffee, still in foil, from its pan. Now,
working carefully, peel off the foil. If you have used the 13"
by 9" pan, the toffee will come out in one thin sheet. Place
this sheet gently on the paper towelling, then cover with several
additional towels. Be careful!--if you scored the toffee as
it was cooling and are lucky, individual pieces will pop out
as you're peeling off the foil. If they don't, you'll have to
break or cut the squares to separate them. Place the individual
squares on the paper towels, and cover them with other paper
towels. This process will absorb at least some of the extra
butteriness. Wait 5 or 10 minutes for the toffee to "drain".
Then, if working with the unscored sheet of toffee, break it
into small, irregular pieces. Now, if not proceeding with the
next step immediately, store the toffee pieces airtight at room
temperature, making sure you separate layers in the container
with wax paper.
To cover the toffee with chocolate, determine the kind of chocolate
you wish to use and the amount you'll need. Pure milk chocolate
is a traditional favorite, but in truth it doesn't give much
chocolate flavor, so I use a blend of milk and semisweet chocolates.
If you have 64 toffee squares from a 9" pan, you'll need one
pound of chocolate; I'd suggest using ten ounces of milk chocolate
and six ounces of semisweet, but you can use a half-and-half
blend. If you have irregularly-shaped pieces of toffee, you'll
need about twenty-two ounces of chocolate, due to the increased
surface area you'll be covering (for twenty-two ounces of chocolate,
you'll need 3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. of vegetable shortening). In
any case, the chocolate must be very finely chopped and placed,
with the shortening, into a medium heatproof bowl. Have ready
a small bowl (deeper than it is wide, preferably), a dinner
fork, a foil-lined cookie sheet to put the dipped toffee on,
and the remaining finely chopped, toasted pecans for garnish.
Have the toffee to be dipped laid out on paper towels or a cookie
Place the bowl of chopped chocolate over hot water on low heat.
Stir frequently until about half-melted. (Alternatively, place
the chopped chocolate and vegetable shortening in a medium microwaveable
bowl; microwave at 50% (medium) power for short intervals, stirring
well after each, until half-melted). Remove bowl of chocolate
from heat source. Stir frequently until completely melted and
smooth. (Melting the chocolate this way provides for some cooling
before the toffee is dipped; the chocolate should be only slightly
warm. If it is too warm, it will run off the toffee and "pool"
at the bottom of each piece.) Scrape the melted chocolate mixture
into the small bowl. Place one piece of toffee into the chocolate.
Submerge it with the fork to cover completely. Pick up the toffee
so it rests flat on the ends of the fork tines; scrape off any
excess chocolate against the upper lip of the bowl. Place the
dipped toffee piece onto the foil-lined baking sheet, maneuvering
it carefully off the fork (a toothpick or another fork might
be useful here). Repeat with each piece. If you notice that
chocolate is "pooling" at the bottom of the dipped pieces, the
chocolate is too warm (let it cool slightly at room temperature,
stirring often), or you aren't scraping enough of the excess
chocolate off the dipped pieces before placing them on the foil-lined
sheet. After dipping every fourth piece or so, place a small
pinch of the pecans on top of each dipped piece (keep these
decorations small and dainty). If the chocolate thickens too
much to enable you to dip the toffee easily, you can reheat
it very briefly, either over hot water on low heat or at 50%
(medium) power in the microwave, just until about half-melted.
Again, let stand at room temperature, stirring often, until
melted and smooth, then continue dipping. When you fill up the
sheet with dipped toffee, refrigerate it just until the chocolate
is set. Then using a tissue or paper towel, peel each piece
from the foil and place into an airtight container with wax
paper between the layers.
Store the toffee in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature,
airtight. Let come to room temperature before eating for best
2 to 2-1/2 lbs. toffee
Hazelnut Toffee: Substitute skinned, finely chopped, toasted,
cooled hazelnuts for the pecans.
Maple Toffee: Substitute maple sugar (available at some health
food stores) or maple granules (really just evaporated maple
syrup) for the granulated sugar. Place the maple sugar or granules
in a food processor fitted with a steel blade; process until
almost powdered and any lumps are gone. Proceed as above. This
toffee is darker in color than that made with granulated sugar,
and it has a lovely, delicate maple flavor.
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