Thursday, December 9, 2010


A couple of years ago, I started making toffee at Christmas. The ingredients are cheap, it's easy to make, and it ships very well. The people on Buzz wanted to see a how-to, so here's how I make toffee.

This is the basic recipe, with one caveat. Don't cook your toffee to 300, and no matter what don't cook it to 320! His thermometer's off or something. Cook the toffee to exactly 290, or if you don't have a thermometer, til it sort of falls in on itself and barely starts to change color. If you cook it longer, you'll get better caramel flavors, but you'll also get a distinct burned-butter taste - it's not worth it.

So! Get your mis ready:

Sugar, salt (not pictured), butter, flavorings. You also need a flat place to cool the toffee - I used a cookie sheet, but a brownie pan would work in a pinch. Line it with parchment paper, unless you are inexplicably out of parchment paper, and in that case use aluminum foil. Put it on trivets. If you don't have trivets, put it on the other half of the stove. It will melt your countertop.

Use a good silicone spatula, or a wooden spoon. No cheap plastic, unless you like the taste. Metal would work but it'll be too hot to hold.

Dissolve the sugar in the melted butter and salt. (Use a bit more salt - maybe 1/4 tsp? It wakes up the flavors. Your toffee won't taste salty. Trust me.)

I made 5 batches last night, and the one that had the best texture were definitely the ones where I let the sugar dissolve into the butter slowly. Don't rush the process. Don't stop stirring.

When it's smooth, jack the heat up to medium or med-high and keep stirring.

It goes through several stages. Molten lava, then microwaved Peeps, then about to ooze butter. When it looks like it's about to ooze butter, it's almost ready. Keep an eye on your thermometer and when it hits 290 you're done. Dump in the vanilla, stir like hell as it vaporizes, then dump the whole potful onto your cookie sheet.

Vanilla added:


I don't need to tell you this stuff is extremely hot and it will burn you bad, right? Surely you know this. Be careful. Don't dump it on your foot or the cat or the countertop. You'll regret it.

You have maybe 5 seconds to spread it. It will mostly spread itself, just swipe it with the spatula to get the center part a bit thinner and the edges a bit thicker. Add your flavorings now - this batch had vanilla sugar sprinkled on top.

Now run some water in your pot and toss in the thermometer and the spatula. Don't let the melted sugar congeal on the pot. It comes off pretty well with hot water, but it's a pain if you let it sit.

Jiggle the aluminum foil and when the toffee has set up a bit - maybe 3 minutes? you can score it.

Leave it alone for another 10 minutes and it'll be hard enough to snap at the score lines. You could just break it up into irregular chunks when it's cool, but this way is better. You get pretty pieces to give as gifts, AND since you wouldn't want to give away ugly chunks, you get to keep the irregular edge pieces all for yourself.

(Warning: If you usually eat primal, it takes a surprisingly small amount of toffee to give you a nasty sugar rush. Just sayin.)

The fun part is flavorings. What tastes good with sugar? Lots of stuff! I have made or have thought about making: vanilla sugar, salt, chai, habanero pepper, ancho pepper with chocolate, just chocolate, coffee (Starbucks Via works ok, so does home-ground if you can get it powdery), peppermint, and cinnamon. Most of these flavorings get added in the last couple seconds of cooking - they'll burn if you heat them up with the sugar. Just add your coffee or flavor extract or whatever after the toffee hits 290, right before you pour it. I add hot pepper, extra vanilla sugar, salt, or chocolate right after I pour the toffee. It'll stick, no worries.


  1. Oooh, thanks for sharing! I'll have to try it!!!

  2. Mmm, looks tasty.

    And I love the comment about keeping the not-so-pretty pieces for yourself. Perfect!

    PS. Love your tile backsplash behind the stove. ;)

  3. Looks gooooood. Good point about the irregular pieces ;)

  4. Umm... YUMMY!! I love toffee but I'm a terrible baker. I just might have to try this recipe, though. :)

  5. oh - yummmm -
    my fillings are chipping just thinking about this!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  6. Well as a sweet addict! That toffee is now one the list for Christmas!


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