A toffee recipe looks deceptively easy at first sight. What could be simpler? Combine butter, sugar, and a little amount of water in a saucepan and heat to a desired temperature or color. Pour out to cool, top with chocolate, and voila! Another great batch of toffee!
If you’ve ever attempted to make toffee at home, you’re well aware that a variety of things may go wrong, often for no apparent reason.
I’ve made hundreds of thousands of pounds of toffee on my own.
I am a self-taught toffee maker.
I’m going to share a few of the toffee maker’s secrets with you to help you consistently produce the ideal batch of toffee… and not just any toffee, but world-class gourmet almond toffee!
#1 Toffee Maker’s Secret: Always use a precise candy thermometer. Make use of the thermometer as a guide or a map. It will provide you with an indication of your arrival time. With practice, the color of the batch will also indicate when the toffee is done.
To ensure uniformity between batches, weigh all ingredients using a kitchen scale and use only the best ingredients available.
Toffee Maker’s Secret # 3: Always follow the cooking instructions precisely. When producing toffee, the process and time are just as critical as the component proportions. What distinguishes toffee as “toffee” is the manufacturing process.
Cooking The Batch.
It is critical that the butter be brought to a boil. Add the water and bring it to a boil once more. When the butter and water are brought to a boil, the sugar crystals dissolve extremely fast. This will prevent re-crystallization of the batch throughout the heating phase.
The Toffee Maker’s Secret #4: This is critical! With a pastry brush and water, clean the pan’s sides. Any sugar crystals that remain undissolved will cause the batch to re-crystallize. If the batch re-crystallizes, it becomes very gritty and separates. Personally, I have never been able to salvage a batch of toffee when this occurs. You would then have to reject the batch and begin over.
Some important temperatures to be aware of: About 250 °F is the point at which the batch would re-crystallize if the heat source you’re using isn’t high enough to dissolve the sugar crystals that form as they form. From 250° to 280°F, the toffee syrup will look thick and heavy. This will make it look like the batch has been partially re-crystallized. You might not have to worry about it re-crystallizing if your stove is hot enough.
Every single toffee maker has had this problem at some point. While cooking, butter and sugar will separate. To solve this, all we need to do is add an emulsifier at the start of the cooking process. Lecithin is used for this. Lecithin helps the butterfat mix with the water in the batch. Lecithin is a byproduct of making soy flour and oil. People with allergies to soybeans can eat the lecithin because it has been cleaned and isn’t harmful. This ingredient can be found in health food stores, some major supermarkets, and stores that sell candy-making supplies and ingredients. It can also be found in candy-making kits and supplies.
According to where you live, you should change the temperature of your food by subtracting 1 degree for every 500 feet above sea level. At sea level, water boils at 212°F, but where I live, water boils at about 201°F.
Now back to cooking the toffee…
You won’t have a batch that clings to the side of the pan as it gets thicker. In about 290°, the heat should be turned down.
From now on, the batch will start to get thinner and will start to stick to the pan again. Between 290° and 306°F is a good temperature for cooking. If you go above that, the batch will burn and too much sugar will be turned into flour. It will be too hard and not have a soft grain as it ages if this happens.
If you want to make toffee, you should let it age for at least a week. This aging process gives the toffee a chance to get the right grain and the best butter taste.
So, let’s go on…
Finally, when the batch is done cooking and has reached 300° to 306°F, the grain will be gone from it. To start the graining process, add a small amount of Baker’s Special Sugar. This will give the batch a fine and soft grain texture.
You should always keep your toffee in the fridge or freezer and keep it sealed. When you store chocolate, don’t keep it at room temperature or out in the open air.
Secret #9: Sometimes I get a call or e-mail about chocolate blooming after the toffee is dipped in chocolate. Blooming is caused by chocolate that has been wet. When it comes to chocolate, I’m not a chocolate expert, but one way to avoid the chocolate blooming is to cover the chocolate with crushed nuts before the chocolate has hardened, of course. In my case, almonds are the best thing to have.
Secret #10: Another problem I hear about is chocolate coming off of the toffee. A vegetable oil spray like Pam or another nonstick spray may be called for in some recipes. After the toffee cools down or is put in the fridge, the chocolate coating may fall off. This is what I have found. Butter the pan or cookie sheet instead. If this doesn’t work, this should usually help.
To make your toffee taste even better, roast your almonds before you put them in the toffee molds. Whole, raw, shelled, Non-Pareil almonds are what you should use in this recipe. Spread almonds out on a cookie sheet and put them in a 350°F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Stir from time to time.
#12: Only use cane sugar in your toffee. You should also only use a spoon that won’t get hot when you stir the toffee, like wood or a plastic that can get hot. Metal is never used. It will take in the heat from the toffee and make it start to break down again.
The above steps and suggestions can be used with any toffee recipe, and in many cases, they can be used with any candy-making project, not just toffee.
The Toffee Recipe:
4.8 oz Chopped raw almonds (to cover chocolate)
2.4 lb Granulated Cane Sugar
0.4 lb Baker’s Special sugar
1 lb Whole dry roasted almonds
6.4 oz Warm water
2 lb of fresh salted butter
0.8 oz Salt
0.3 oz Lecithin
Make sure the butter is in a heavy pan. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Then add the warm water and stir. Again, bring the water to a boil and stir in the granulated cane sugar. Use a pastry brush to clean the sides with water and a little bit of soap. Lecithin should be added at this point. Cook the food at 250°F. When you add the roasted almonds, do so. Begin by heating the food to a temperature of 280° to 290°F*.Then, lower the heat on the stove. Preheat the oven to 300°–306°F.(See Secret #6 above for how to change your temperature.) Salt and Baker’s special sugar should be added to the pan when it isn’t on the stove. Bake on a baking sheet or cooling slab that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the batch quickly and cut it to the right size. You can put chopped or crushed nuts on each side.