What is Toffee?

Mary McMahon

Toffee is a sweet that is made by heating butter and sugar together to a temperature known as the hard crack stage and then pouring the mixture into molds and allowing it to cool. The resulting candy is hard with a faint chewiness as it warms up; some versions have added ingredients which make them even chewier. Toffee is a popular candy in many regions of the world, especially those with a large British population, and there are a number of variations on the basic recipe, which resembles butterscotch, caramel, and other candies made in a similar style.

Some cooks use white sugar when making toffee.
Some cooks use white sugar when making toffee.

A common variation on toffee is made with added nuts or dried fruit for additional flavor and texture. It can also be cooled with a layer of melted chocolate for additional flavor; this trend is popular with some English styles. The basic recipe is extremely simple, and it can easily be made at home. For people who don't feel up to making candy, toffee can be purchased in many markets and candy stores.

Molasses, one of the ingredients for toffee.
Molasses, one of the ingredients for toffee.

To make toffee, a cook will need a large heavy saucepan, a candy thermometer, a silicone spatula, and a mold to cool the candy in. Silicone candy molds are ideal, because they will not warp from the heat of the toffee; if the cook wants to make a thin slab, he or she can just use a silicone baking mat to cool it. Butter, sugar or molasses, water, vanilla, and salt will also be required, as will chocolate or nuts, if they will be added.

Cooks should measure out 1 cup (225 g) of sugar and 1 cup (225 g) of butter into the saucepan, along with 2 teaspoons (9.8 ml) of water and 1/8 teaspoon (0.4 g) of salt. Brown sugar can be used for a more rich, complex flavor, or white sugar for simplicity; molasses can also also be used for an especially intense flavor. These ingredients should be cooked over low heat, which will encourage blending without separation, until they reach the hard crack stage, between 300°F (150°C) and 320°F (160°C).

The toffee should be stirred as it is heated to encourage even mixing, but cooks should watch out, because the mixture will be very hot. Once it reaches the hard crack stage, 1 teaspoon (4.9 ml) of vanilla should be added; nuts can also be added at this point, if desired. The hot mixture should then be poured into molds or out onto a baking sheet to cool. If the cook wants to add a layer of melted chocolate, it should be ready to go as the toffee approaches the finishing stage, and can be spread on top once the candy has been poured out.

A common variation on toffee is made with added nuts or dried fruit for additional flavor and texture.
A common variation on toffee is made with added nuts or dried fruit for additional flavor and texture.

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Discussion Comments


I can't imagine using a thermometer. If you're just using butter and sugar, it's in the right "stage" once it turns brown. After that, it's a matter of getting the perfect burn on it to suit your taste. The thermometer also can't tell you where that sweet spot is where you're a matter of seconds away from ruining the batch. Trial and error is loads better than a thermometer.


I also love toffee - especially the english toffee candy topped with a layer of chocolate and chopped walnuts. Making your own candy can be fun, but it can also be tricky making. You must make sure you have an accurate candy thermometer.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own, Werther's makes all kinds of different toffee candy. You are sure to find several that suit your taste. They also have very good quality and their candy is found most every where.


Toffee is one on my favorite Christmas candy treat. My mom has an old family recipe that has been passed down, and she makes this every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It does not last long around our house. This chocolate covered toffee is perfect with a hot cup of coffee.

Eating this homemade toffee has spoiled me because I have not found anything else that tastes as good. During the year if I am getting hungry for some toffee, I will buy a Heath bar. It satisfies the sweet tooth, but isn't quite the same.

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