…so long as you are paying attention.
I took 3 pounds of butter toffee to a family party yesterday and had several requests for my recipe. Of course I don’t mind sharing my recipe, and a few other tidbits I have learned along the way about making candy in general. Enjoy the secrets and feel free to pass them on.
If you want to make candy, you absolutely need a candy thermometer.
There is no budging on this point. Invest in a candy thermometer or nothing you make is ever going to turn out the way that you want. Period. Go buy one, right now, before you even finish reading this post. They sell them at many stores all across the cost spectrum, from Williams Sonoma to Walmart.
My personal experience with candy thermometers is that you want a traditional mercury thermometer. Digital thermometers break and in my experience they are more difficult to read. Obviously, if you insist on a digital thermometer, I can’t stop you, but there is a page out of my handbook on candy making. On to my toffee recipe.
For a basis for my recipe, I use the Better Homes and Gardens Butter Toffee Crunch recipe. It is a good recipe, but my variation only uses things I keep in my pantry anyway, so no crushed or chopped nuts. It also makes it easier to make it uniform, and I will explain why later.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
3 Tablespoons water
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
Line a small cookie sheet with aluminum foil shiny side up. Make sure the you use a single sheet of foil and that it is large enough to go over the sides of the cookie sheet. If you use multiple sheets and they aren’t secured together well, you may end up with some of your toffee seeping underneath and then you have foil trapped in your toffee, rendering bits of it inedible. If you have to, buy a wider roll of foil. If you insist on using multiple sheets, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I always do a little dance of glee when I have the opportunity to use my little cookie sheet since it makes no sense to use it for much of anything else.
Butter the sides of a 2 quart sauce pan. You may be wondering why you would butter the sides of a saucepan you are planning to melt butter in anyway. You may be thinking, “but the first step is to melt the butter. Why would I butter the sides?” You may have every intention of getting that melted butter goodness all over the sides of your sauce pan, but if you don’t butter the sides and you miss a spot with the melted butter, you won’t know it until it is too late to save your toffee. Life is easier all around if you butter the sides of your pan.
Melt the butter in the sauce pan. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils.
Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Continue to cook and stir constantly over medium heat until the candy hits the soft-crack stage (which is written in a range on the side of your thermometer), about 290 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about 15 minutes to hit this point, a little less if you are at high altitude. If you want it to turn out the first time, you are best off just staring at the thermometer while you stir, especially after it hits 280. I use one of my kids to stare at the thermometer until it hits 280.
Pull the pan off of the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Pour the mixture out of the sauce pan into the foil-lined pan. Let it stand for 5 minutes when it should be relatively firm. Pour the chocolate chips onto the top and let it sit for 2 minutes. Spread the chocolate out with a spatula so it coats the top of the toffee. Chill it until it is firm. I lay out a hand towel on the glass shelf in my refrigerator and set the cookie sheet on top of that so the hot cookie sheet doesn’t crack the glass.
Lift the foil off the cookie sheet and drop it on the counter so it cracks. You can do this repeatedly or you can break the pieces by hand. Package it in a tightly sealed container. I use a gallon size ziplock bag. I keep mine in the fridge so the chocolate doesn’t melt.
The Better Homes and Garden’s recipe has nuts in it, both in the toffee and the chocolate. I do not put nuts in mine because when the toffee comes out of the sauce pan, it is more molten than strictly liquid. It pushes the nuts around toward the edges of the toffee and there is very little point to having put them on the cookie sheet in the first place. I also like the simplicity of flavors without nuts. If you want to put nuts in yours, sprinkle chopped toasted almonds or pecans on the cookie sheet after you line it with foil but before you start melting the butter. You can also sprinkle chopped toasted almonds or pecans onto the chocolate after you spread it but before you chill the toffee.