Sugar, butter, chocolate chips and pecans. What more could you possibly ask for in life? (or at least in a dessert). This classic toffee recipe is so delicious yet easy enough for anyone to make.
There’s often a lot of frustration when trying to emulsify butter and sugar – one of the most common being that the butter separated from the mixture. The key to making great toffee (and this is true for fudge as well) is to keep the heat down, and be patient. Toffee isn’t ready ’til it gets to 285 degrees fahrenheit, but if you rush trying to get it there, you’re going to wind up with something a lot more burnt and lumpy than something smooth and delicious.
Typically what I do, is start the pot on low heat with only the butter in the pan and let it start melting down while I’m preparing the cookie sheet with wax/parchment paper and finely chopping my pecans. Just before all the blocks of butter are melted down, I’ll take my wooden spoon and ‘spread’ butter all up and down the sides of the pan to the top. Rubbing butter on the insides of the pot may seem like a pointless step, but coating the pan with saturated fat, I’ve found, is a really useful way to prevent the sugar from burning on the sides of the pan during the cooking process.
Once the butter is melted, I stick my candy thermometer in (yep, the old, big and round glass kind), pour in the sugar and the salt, turn the heat up to medium and star stirring. A lot of similar recipes will tell you that you only need to stir occasionally, but after years of cooking with a lot of different brands and types of pots, I’ve found the only true way to guarantee your sugary treat doesn’t burn along the way is to stir from constantly from start to finish. This is more work, but the result is a well earned payoff.
On medium heat it takes a while for the sugar and butter to come up to temp, but when the mixture gets to 285 degrees, and looks that nice caramel, golden brown, it’s time to pull it immediately from the burner, and pour it in to your already prepared baking pan. This part goes really fast, and you gotta move quick because the toffee starts setting immediately. Just dump it in, and take the back of your spoon and start spreading it out until the entire mixture is about 1/4″ in thickness.
Once it’s poured up, I usually wait about 60 seconds, dump on the chocolate chips(yay chocolate!!), wait for them to start melting, and using the back of my spoon, start spreading the chocolatey goodness all over the toffee. The toffee will still be somewhat pliable at this stage, but if you go ahead and spread the chocolate, it’ll turn out just fine. Finally, sprinkle the pecans across the top, pressing in lightly with your fingers. Put it in the fridge and let it cool all the way. Break it up with your hands, store in something air tight, and you’ve got some sugary, buttery, chocolatey goodness waiting for you anytime you get a sweet tooth!