Toffee Talk: A Sweet Tutorial

You can buy it at Williams-Sonoma for $30/box…or you can make it yourself for about $5 (and that’s with some really good chocolate) and spend the extra $25 on a nice pedicure. Or maybe a subscription to US Weekly. Or do a good deed. You decide.

Sometimes, when I tell people they need one of these gadgets to make toffee, their eyes glaze over and they start sweating profusely:









But I’ve screwed up a lot of things in my cooking life, including toffee, and I think I can honestly tell you…it’s not that hard. I promise. In fact, the candy thermometer makes it very easy.

Here’s what you’ll need: (make sure to buy the best chocolate you can find…you can use dark, semisweet or milk, whichever you prefer. I used a mild dark here and L-O-V-E-D it.)






1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided
1 cup salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces really good chocolate, coarsely chopped

Toast 1/2 cup of sliced almonds in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until lightly browned and aromatic. Set aside.






Line a 9×13 pan with waxed paper (or parchment or silipat). Have all your ingredients and pans prepped and ready. (Once your toffee gets to the right temp you gotta be speedy.)






Place the butter in a medium saucepan. I actually always use a bigger pot because I’m freakishly scared of burns. Melt over medium heat.






A brief word about ‘medium’ heat here…this is possibly the number one reason people screw up toffee: they get impatient. And then they jack up the heat. You will be making this entire batch of toffee with medium heat. It will take a while. Please resist the urge to hurry it along; it will likely cause your mixture to separate and ruin the whole batch. If your candy thermometer stops moving up you can raise the heat a tiny bit to help it along, but don’t get all hot tamale on me, got it? Medium heat.

Once your butter is almost completely melted, stir in the sugar, warm water and salt. Set your candy thermometer in the pan (and double check that the sensor part is not touching bottom of pan. Deep-fry thermometers are really good for this because the bulb is not allowed to touch the bottom.) Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring just a couple of times lightly, until mixture reaches 240 degrees F. This whole process will take a while…like 15 min. or so.






At 240 degrees, stir in the remaining cup of almonds. Start stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.






Here’s what the mixture looks like. Not-so-amazing yet, right?






Keep stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 295 degrees F. Once it hits 295, take the pan off the heat, remove the candy thermometer and stir in the baking soda.







This is not the time to pick your nose, answer the phone or get your kids a snack. You have about a minute ’til this stuff starts hardening, so stir in the soda quickly and then dump the whole mixture onto your wax-paper lined pan. Spread it to even thickness. (Sorry about this bad lighting…it’s hard to handle hot toffee with one hand and work your camera with the other.)






Every once in a while, even though I’ve followed my instructions perfectly, the butter will pool a little bit or slightly separate from the candy. Some people say it’s the humidity, others say it’s the butter you use (salted is less fussy they say), some say you used too much heat. DO NOT PANIC if this happens. It always works itself out…I’ve never needed to ‘soak up’ the butter or pour it off. As long as your candy thermometer reached 295, it will set.

Sprinkle your chopped chocolate over the top of the hot mixture.







Let it stand a few minutes until melted and then spread the melted chocolate evenly over the bottom layer.





Take your toasted almonds from earlier and crunch them up with your hands. Sprinkle over the top of the chocolate.


Refrigerate the whole pan for at least an hour. (Or throw it on the porch like I do…it’s a brisk 30 degrees!)


When hardened, break up into pieces and try not to eat more than one.


Just try.


p.s. if your candy thermometer and/or pan have hard, gunky stuff on them, throw some water back in the pan and bring it to a boil. The gunk will melt off.

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  1. Thank you for sharing some great instructions… you inspire me to try this despite my fear of all things requiring a candy thermometer!
    ¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
    (¸.·´ (¸.·`¤… Jennifer

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