Toasted Pecan Toffee

Toasted Pecan Toffee Recipe

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.

So...it 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!

Apologies, comments are closed.

Comments

  • Check out Baking911 -- http://www.baking911.com/candy/toffee.htm -- 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

    kristina
  • Check out Baking911 -- http://www.baking911.com/candy/toffee.htm -- 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

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

    Margaret
  • 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.

    Heidi
  • 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.

    AP
  • 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.

    Wayne
  • 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.

    Arlen
  • 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

    Heidi
  • 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...

    Rachel
  • 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."

    P
  • 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)

    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.

    Nic
  • 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!

    E.Claire
  • 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?????

    Martin
  • 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.

    ha3rvey
  • 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.

    Fran
  • 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.

    Andie
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