Sweet Reads

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Toffee

Toffee – the hard, sweet candy – is an old-fashioned treat, so you might not hear the name very much around modern candy shops. But this classic candy is an enjoyable delight that bursts with flavor at each bite.

What is toffee, you ask? Basically, it’s hardened caramel (more on that later). Toffee is believed to have been invented in the 19th century in England. The abundance of cheap sugar sourced from the Caribbean and butter in England played a significant role in its invention.

But it isn’t just a brown, square piece of candy. There is so much to this sweet delicacy that we just had to dive deep to discover more about its deliciousness and, yes, even learn how to make it. Keep on reading!

What is toffee made of?

Let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty: what makes toffee, well, toffee? 

It’s a candy you can easily make at home using sugar and water, or milk or butter or cream for a creamier texture. The ingredients are mixed, dissolved, and heated to specific temperatures.

Many DIY bakers like to add nuts and chocolate to their toffee and offer it as gifts. Others like to add sea salt or lavender. It just depends on your taste!

Is toffee the same as taffy?

Taffy is in no way, shape, or form toffee. Taffy describes chewy fruit candies, whereas toffee is closer to caramel.

What is English toffee?

There is no massive difference between English toffee and toffee everywhere else. In the U.S., toffee is traditionally prepared with different kinds of nuts and chocolate, whereas English toffee is plain.

The difference between toffee, butterscotch, and caramel

Caramel tends to have longer sugar crystals that enhance its chewy nature, thanks to the added milk.

The temperature when heating toffee, butterscotch, or caramel also varies slightly, depending on your preferred final product. If you’ve winged your baking without a thermometer until this point, then hats off to you, but if you wish to master DIY toffee, don’t hesitate to invest in one!

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How to make toffee 

Dairy-free toffee

Traditional toffee is made with one part water and four parts caster sugar. Mix the two ingredients in a pan over low heat. Never bring to a boil until all the sugar is dissolved. Stir occasionally, gently coercing the mixture from the sides of the pan. Note: Use a wooden spoon; a metal one will disrupt the temperature, since it will absorb heat from the candy.

Stirring patiently will help prevent the sugar from crystallizing, which ruins your efforts. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, sides of the pan included, raise the heat until your mixture is at boiling point. For toffee, this should be 295 to 309 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to use a candy thermometer in order to be precise!

Creamy toffee

For a creamier, thicker toffee, use two cups of butter, two cups of white sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Use the same process here as above, but you need to be a stickler with the temperature. The butter will pool together if the heat is too high, and you lose the smooth sought-after texture.

After the toffee is cooked

It’s essential to remember to stop stirring once your mixture boils. Let it cool down – this is still part of the toffee-licious process! Prepare a baking dish lined with greased parchment paper. (The paper will stick to the toffee if you don’t grease it first.) Slowly pour your preparation onto the parchment paper and store in the fridge to cool.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s spruce up your toffee.

If you want to add extras, like nuts (almonds, walnuts) or lavender, layer your prepared baking tray with your “toppings” before pouring the toffee mixture over.

However, if you want your toffee coated in chocolate, pour the toffee mixture into the tray, let it cool down for two or three minutes, and then add the chocolate. The toffee will still be hot enough for the chocolate to melt onto it, rather than into it.

Candy apples

Although it horrifies some parents, this treat is a perfect delight for kids. Candy apples are synonymous with Halloween, and it’s also their national day! Here’s how to make your own batch of toffee-licious candy apples:

Prepare the apple:

First you need to “clean” the apples. Let them sit in a bowl of apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes or so. This helps remove the waxy outer layer of apples. Your candy apples won’t look so appetizing if they’re not fully covered!

Stick one lollipop stick into each apple, usually where the stalk is, or just next to it.

Prepare the candy:

Use the dairy-free toffee recipe listed above. This time, before it boils, add in food coloring. Traditionally the color is red, but imagine blue candy apples or purple ones! This one’s up to the kids.

Candying the apple:

Prepare a greased sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Carefully dip the apple into your mixture and place it to set on the baking tray. The toffee will be pretty hot, so don’t let your kids do this!

If you want to spruce things up, you can use sprinkles, crushed nuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, anything, really! Create different bowls of your toppings of choice and dip the dipped apple in them before setting to dry.

So there you have it. Toffee is no longer a mystery. You can now also add it to your list of recipes kids love! Go ahead and bookmark this page and come back when you’re ready to experiment.

And if you’re too lazy to cook toffee…

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