Toasted Pecan Toffee Recipe

My sister Heather teaches me her favorite toffee recipe. It is peppered with toasted pecans and slathered with a thin layer of chocolate on each side.

Toasted Pecan Toffee

I went to my sister's house in Mill Valley last night to have her teach me her toffee recipe - she makes amazing toffee. We made one batch with her recipe, and then I got ahead of myself and tried to get fancy with the second batch. Here's the conversation I had with Bruce Cole on AIM about it this morning. He's orange, I've got a green hat. didn't really work out. I'm no sugar artist, and my knowledge of cooking candy doesn't go much beyond having a grasp on the concept of the soft ball - hard crack spectrum.

Luckily, Heather's straight-shooting toffee tastes fantastic, has a snap to it, and ends up being my sugar fix of choice during the holiday season - I'll include it below. I wanted to do a batch using a less refined, but still fine-grained sugar in place of the white sugar. I wanted to get rid of the corn syrup, and I wanted to add a spice mix of ground smoked chilies, cinnamon, and sea salt to both the toffee and the chocolate coating. Unfortunately, you can't always get what you want - particularly on your first try - maybe next year!

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Heather's Toasted Pecan Toffee Recipe

You need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

1 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
2 cups well-chopped pecans, toasted (divided)
1/2 pound (8 ounces) chocolate, cut into chunks - milk, semi, or bittersweet (your choice)

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium/med-low heat add the butter. Wait a minute or two until the butter really starts to soften and melt. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook, stirring regularly until the mixture is bubbling (lava-style) and the candy thermometer hits 300F degrees. Remove from the heat and stir in one cup of the pecans.

Pour the hot toffee out onto the prepared baking sheet. Depending on hot thick you like your toffee, spread it out into a round 10-12-inches wide. Set it aside to cool.

While the toffee is cooling go ahead and melt half the chocolate - Heather uses a microwave in 20-second bursts or you can use a double boiler. Be sure the toffee has set up a bit before you spread the melted chocolate over the top. Immediately sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the remaining pecans.

Wait 20 minutes, or until the chocolate has firmed up. Carefully flip the toffee over. Melt the remaining chocolate and spread on the second side - sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans. Let cool.

I've seen people break brittle or toffee into big shards by smacking the baking pan on the counter. If this doesn't work for you, break the toffee into pieces by (carefully) using a knife or ice pick to break of pieces.

Makes a big plate of toffee.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Apologies, comments are closed.


too complicated. one pound of butter, a box of brown sugar, melt together, stirring, until candy thermometer registers 290, pour onto nuts already spread on teflon baking sheet or marble counter. place chocolate onto toffee after about two minutes of setting time- toffee's heat will melt chocolate. spread, cover with more nuts, (slivered almonds, pecan pieces. let set 4-5 hours. enjoy.


Cindy, the same thing happened to me. I just put the chocolate on one side and sprinkled on all the pecans. Then I put the toffee in the icebox and let it set for 20-30 minutes and it was perfect!! Good luck. K. ps- I mean fridge when I say icebox, not the freezer. I was raised by midwestern parents, so I still say icebox.


I've never made candy before, but when I saw this recipe, I had to try it. Everything seemed to turn out fine with the toffee, however it's been about an hour, and my chocolate on the top seems to be the same consistency it was when I poured it on. I used the microwave method to melt it. I don't dare turn it over to do the other side - I think all the chocolate would drip off! Am I foobarred?


I think the toffee sounds good. I however was delighted with a box of factory made toffee that had pecans in the toffee and pecans in the power sugar coating. What kind of toffee is this?


Cleanup tip: since you can't ever get all the sticky stuff out of the bottom of the pan, throw in some hot water and heat it on the stove. The boiling water will dissolve the mess and cleanup's a snap.


Corn syrup is definitely not needed. I make toffee every xmas for gifts and I have never paid attention to the weather and never had any problems. When is it not humid around here this time of year? The recipe is just butter, sugar and almonds. I've always used refined sugar, but can't imagine that organic sugar wouldn't work. I took a look at the baking 911 link above and was interested to see that they recommend adding water to bring separated butter and sugar together. My recipe calls for adding a tablespoon of ice water at certain temperatures. It's very dramatic--lots of steam and bubbling--and I've never had the toffee separate. In fact last year, I didn't realize that the thermometer was touching the bottom of the pan and pulled the first batch off the heat WAY too early. Poured it into a pan, realized my mistake and the next day dumped it all back into the pot and fired it up. It separated at first but the water did bring it together and it turned out fine. I'd be happy to send you my recipe if you're interested.


Will using margarine to make it vegan yield the same results?


Made a batch following recipe, and using Ishi's energy saving tips, thanks. Came out wonderfull, 20 people on my list will enjoy it this christmas. I'm plannig some variations, I would appreciate comments, this is what I would like to try. Peanuts instead of pecans -dont know what kind though- and what about substituting 1/3 of the butter for peanut butter? Sesame, adding a few drops of sesame oil to the butter. Sea salted nut mix, pecans, cashews, macadamias, brazil nuts. And a big question for you all, how do I cleanup my saucepan fast enough to make 10 double batches in a row. Thanks, and Happy Holidays


Thanks for the tip on brown rice syrup! My daughter is allergic to corn and I never knew there wasa sub for it . You made our christmas a little sweeter.

debbie k schnell

wow! love toffee! it doesn't seem so tedious making one from your recipe...i'll have to try this one kids will definitely love this! thanks for the recipe...




heidi i made this (all refined ingredients) and added 1 tsp of salt. I also salted the pecans for the topping too. I think that adds a slight more salt that with the sweet and chocolate is great. I was also inspired to make amond brittle with cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper that is yummy. i now have christmas presents for friends. where would you suggest buying food packaging? I live in the South Bay near San Jose but it'd be great to be able to order it online too. THanks. love your blog. it's my homepage! Linda


you can usually successfully substitute brown rice syrup for corn syrup. its slightly less refined and has very similar consistancy.


Check out Baking911 -- -- for an explanation of the effect that humidity/moisture has on toffee making and other troubleshooting which speaks exactly to the types of problems you were having as well as the temperature 'hot spots'... You're braver than I am! kristina


Check out Baking911 -- -- for an explanation of the effect that humidity/moisture has on toffee making and other troubleshooting which speaks exactly to the types of problems you were having as well as the temperature 'hot spots'... You're braver than I am! kristina


Wow it sounds so good... could you come make it for me, I am no good at making candy like that.


Oh Oh Oh!!! it's almost Christmas, it's CANDY-TIME!!! I know, it's a useless comment, but hey, thanks to everyone in there I'm going to make toffee for my family for christmas!! THANKS A LOT to everyone in here, and happy candy festivity!! ^_^

Wannabe S.Claus

Hi AP, Thanks for your comments. I am actually hoping you would elaborate on your point of view a bit more if possible.


Just to point out: honey is just as refined as corn syrup and brown rice syrup is virtually indistinguishable from corn syrup in every way but price.


I'd like to throw my 2 cents in here, regarding the so-called "disaster" toffee that was the natural sugar version. It did not have the look (it was not as photo friendly, but toffee in general isn't) and perhaps not as much crunch as the traditional toffee, but it was very tasty. Maybe if you put it side by side at a party less people would grab it, but after trying it, I bet many would prefer it.


Natural or not, table sugar is sucrose. Corn sugar is fructose aka inert sugar (hence seeing "high-fructose corn syrup" on the back of everything). Honey is a mix of fructose and glucose. So really, your stuck with corn syrup for these variables. You could try altering things like the proportions or adding a surfactant, but the original recipe probably took a long time to perfect.


Ok, interesting. We also looked at a lot of recipes for toffee that didn't have corn syrup before cutting it out...Thanks for all the feedback, keep it coming. -h


I have a recipe for toffee that doesn't call for any corn syrup. The proportions are slightly different with 1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1/4 water. The pecans and chocolate chips are 1/2 cup each, but those can vary to your taste anyway. Unfortunately, I haven't tried this yet since I only have one stick of butter left! I guess I'll have to wait until I go shopping...


As noted before, some type of inverse sugar is required to "link" the different starches and prevent the crystalization break down that normally occurrs at higher temperatures with unmodified "natural" starches and sugars. "Blending in unmodified starches increases chewiness and body in fudges and caramels. High-amylose starches can be blended (for example, using a 30:70 ratio) with a thin-boiling starch to increase gel rate and strength. However, when high-amylose starches are blended with thin-boiling starches, certain precautions must be taken. High-amylose starch requires a much higher cooker temperature, 330° to 340(F vs. 285(F for thin-boiling starches. Gel strength can dramatically increase, causing product "tailing" at too high a level. Speed of gelling, as well as overall viscosity, also must be monitored to maintain proper texture."


Yummy, yummy ....


Here are a couple of tips that might prove helpful. Place a thin layer of the crushed nuts on the parchement (or wax) paper when preparing the pan. Add the layer of caramel when it is ready and then sprinkle chopped chocolate over the top. The heat of the caramel will melt the chocolate for you. Then genersously top with more crushed nuts over the melting chocolate which gives the nuts something to adhere to. Allow to cool completely before breaking into serving pieces. SAJ (ishi)


I'm afraid that I have to agree with everyone else about cornsyrup being important. I have heard that you can use brown rice syrup in place of cornsyrup. Though I haven't tried it myself yet, this could be a good solution.


Heidi, I like that you tried something different. For one thing caramel has a hard time when the sugar is organic because it has more impurities in it and crystallization is a precarious process. Secondly for candy invert sugar is a must, yes. Invert sugar is that which occurs in nature as liquid. For just plain old caramel sometimes I add lemon juice or cheat and make a simple syrup on the side...but corn syrup really works best. GLUCOSE is one of the best but it is pricey and stickier than anything you have ever experienced. (although you can buy it direct from Pacific Gourmet... :}

shuna fish lydon

It might have to do with invert sugars. I know that they will help sugar syrups from crystalizing, but something in their makeup might also help keep everything together. Corn syrup is an invert sugar, but so is honey. You could try again, using your new recipe, but adding a little bit of honey, and then you'd still keep it natural. Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe unrefined sugars just won't heat that high, but it could be worth a shot. Good luck!


If You want it to set right I think you have to add at least a little corn syrup. Something about the way the different types of sugar molecules hook up?????


Heather, Why do you hate me? Why are you doing this to me? :) Now I have to go make candy after cooking all day at work. That's okay, though... Just to thwart you, I'll make pralines instead. Neener. Neener. Neener.


The toffee looks good. My Grandmother was a great candy maker and she would never make candy if it was cloudy or humid or if the sun was "going down". Meaning, she would not make candy or bake sweets after 12 noon. Maybe part of this is just an old timey tradition, but it seemed to work for her and I was always fascinated by those ideas.


I've had similar experiences when trying be fancy with my toffee and used unrefined organic sugar. Resulted texture wise in awful grainy gritty toffee, oily on the surface (mine also broke before reaching the peak temp). I figured out that it must have had something to do with the unrefined sugar.


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