Classic Milk (or Dark) Chocolate Toffee
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Here is recipe for classic milk or dark chocolate toffee, the perfect gift for the person in your life with a sweet tooth. This toffee melts in your mouth and is buttery, sandy-textured and delicious. Below you will find step-by-step instructions as well as video guidance:
This recipe, submitted by my friend Laura Daley, won The Philadelphia Bulletin’s 2007 “Annual Edible Gift Recipe Contest.” It’s buttery and chocolaty, sweet and salty, a festive treat to add to your holiday desserts repertoire.
There is one trick to making this recipe: cooking the sugar until it reaches the hard-ball stage or, in my experience, until it gets just beyond the hard-ball stage.
What is the hard-ball stage?
The hard-ball stage refers to the stage sugar reaches when it is heated to 250º – 266ºF (121 – 130ºC), but for this recipe you’ll want to cook it a little longer.
You, of course, can use a candy thermometer to test for this stage, but Laura uses a different method: she has you drop a small spoonful of the cooked sugar into a glass of cold water. If the syrup forms a ball — and if you press it between your fingers and it holds its shape — the sugar is in the hard-ball stage.
If you are comfortable cooking sugar and gauging this sort of stage, feel proud — it’s not easy. The more I make this toffee, the more I find myself relying on my Thermapen — so fast and so accurate — to assess when the sugar-butter mixture is done. I also am finding that cooking the sugar a bit beyond the hard-ball stage, more to like 285ºF-290ºF, is best.
Note: the texture of this finished toffee is almost sandy — it melts in your mouth as opposed to sticks to your molars. It doesn’t snap sharply when it breaks, but rather crumbles. I find the texture to be quite nice, but if you are looking for more of that crisp, snappy caramel texture, you should cook your butter-sugar mixture till it gets beyond 300ºF.
There is one other critical step to ensuring this toffee turns out well for you: chill the assembled toffee in the fridge for at least two hours before breaking it into chards. Chilling it allows the butter-sugar layer to firm up and solidify. Once it is solid, you can break it into shards and …
This toffee, as Laura notes in the recipe, makes a great gift for the holidays. Several years ago, I purchased a case of 100 brown stationery boxes from Uline. Although this large case of boxes takes up nearly half our storage space in the basement, every holiday season I am so happy to have these clear-top boxes on hand.
I have packaged biscotti and chocolate truffles in them for the past two years, and now I will pack Daley Toffee in them as well. For a nice presentation, use parchment paper as a base inside the box, wrap the box with a ribbon, and tie on a simple tag.
How to Make Toffee: A Step-by-Step Guide
Sprinkle ground pecans into a buttered 9×9-inch pan. I love this USA Pan:
Bring butter, sugar, water, and vanilla to a simmer in a saucepan stovetop:
Have your Thermapen or candy thermometer nearby. You want to remove the mixture when it reaches 285ºF – 290ºF or when it looks caramel-colored. Reference the video for guidance. Pour it over your prepared pan:
Let stand 2 minutes; then sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let stand another 2 minutes; then spread into an even layer:
You can use dark or milk chocolate here — whatever you like best:
Sprinkle more ground pecans over top and a pinch of sea salt if you wish:
Transfer to the fridge for at least 2 hours before turning the toffee out onto a sheet of parchment paper and breaking it into shards.Print
This recipe comes from my friend Laura Daley, whose recipe won The Philadelphia Bulletin’s holiday baking contest in 2007.
Laura’s notes: This recipe makes a great holiday gift for those with a sweet tooth! It keeps up to 2 weeks if you put it in an airtight container.
Chocolate: I’ve used both semi-sweet (46% cacao) and dark chocolate (74% cacao), and I like both. Obviously, when semi-sweet chocolate is used, the toffee comes out sweeter.
- butter for greasing
- 2/3 cup (72 g) ground pecans (or nut of your choice)
- 1 cup (226 g) salted butter
- 1 cup (218 g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (40 g) water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (140 g) premium milk chocolate or dark chocolate, see notes above
- Sea salt, optional
- Grease a 9×9-inch pan. Put 1/3 cup of the nuts in the pan.
- Cook butter, sugar, water, and vanilla over medium heat stirring occasionally until golden brown — you want the sugar to get just past the hard-ball stage or until it reaches: 285º – 290ºF (140 – 143ºC). You can use a candy thermometer or better a Thermapen to test for this stage or you can drop a small spoonful of the cooked sugar into a glass of cold water. If the syrup forms a ball, the sugar is in the hard-ball stage.
- Pour the cooked butter/sugar mixture over the nuts.
- Wait 2 minutes; then put the chocolate on top. Wait 2 more minutes; then spread the chocolate evenly over top — I use the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt if you wish. Transfer the pan to the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
- When the toffee has completely cooled, break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
NOTE: You can also use an 8×13-inch pan if you’d prefer a thinner version — in which case increase nuts to 1 cup.
- Category: Candy
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: toffee, milk, chocolate, hard-ball stage