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Butter toffee is a thick candy that can be molded and eaten alone or used as a topping on other toffee desserts. It typically has a hard and crunchy texture, and its main component is a mixture of sugar and butter heated to the point of caramelizing. Traditional butter toffee recipes are frequently called English toffee due to the confection's origins. This treat is often dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkled with crushed nuts, such as walnuts or almonds. Making butter toffee requires attention to time and temperature in order to avoid ingredient separation or scorching, but experienced home candy makers often report that the results are worth the initial effort.
The typical butter toffee recipe calls for sugar, salt, water, and butter. Many cooks recommend using salted instead of unsalted butter in order to arrive at the right flavor balance. These ingredients are usually heated in a stovetop pot that either has a non-stick metal coating or has been greased with a generous amount of extra butter. Experienced dessert bakers recommend the use of a quality candy thermometer in order to ensure this mixture reaches the right temperature. Keeping a coating of butter on the cooking tools and utensils is essential for preventing the toffee mixture from sticking during the cooking and pouring process.
Once the primary ingredients are thoroughly mixed, cooked, and thickened to the recommended consistency, the liquid butter toffee is poured and spread over a cookie sheet spread with butter to prevent sticking. An important aspect of this step is to spread the toffee as evenly as possible to ensure even cooling. Many cooks simply use a standard butter-coated knife and cookie sheet, though another option is to pour the toffee over a non-stick silicone baking mat that is specially designed for this type of candy-making. These are usually available in kitchen supply stores. While the toffee is cooling, the chocolate and nuts can be prepared for the final steps.
Some cooks like to pour and spread a coat of melted chocolate over only one side of the cooled butter toffee. Others prefer to flip the toffee sheet over after the first side hardens and cover the second side with chocolate as well. If crushed nuts are included in this kind of toffee recipe, they need to be sprinkled over the chocolate before it cools. The finished toffee is then usually broken up into sizable pieces with the tip of a kitchen knife. Smaller toffee bits can also be sprinkled over ice cream or the top of a frosted cake.
One of the more interesting -- and tasty -- variations on butter toffee is saltine cracker toffee. It's along the same lines as salted caramels or toffee or chocolate-covered pretzels.
The cook melts butter and light brown sugar together to a lightly caramelized state, pours this over saltine crackers (usually arranged in a single layer on a cookie sheet) and bakes them for a couple of minutes. The crackers can be left as is, or topped with nuts or even melted chocolate (and then nuts).
It's a unique take on an old dessert, and it's easier than the standard toffee recipe.