This toffee is an oldie but goodie. It is the first candy I ever learned to make (Thanks Mom!). Except that, back then, I learned to make it with milk chocolate and almonds. Or maybe it was pecans. I forget (it’s been a couple decades). Now, I prefer it topped with bittersweet chocolate and pistachios.
The key is to start with room temperature butter. Or fake it with a microwave. Or deviate from the recipe a little and just melt the butter slowly in a pot before adding the sugar.
Reach deep down into that almost-empty 10-pound bag of sugar. I couldn’t believe I was almost at the bottom. Good thing I had another 10-pound bag on hand … because that’s the kind of over-preparation I do when making everything for my own wedding dessert bar, apparently.
Must stem from Girl Scouts back in the day. “Be prepared,” which in my perfectionist mind translates to “be more than prepared at all times for things you couldn’t possibly imagine might happen at the beginning of a project.” Like actually using up an entire 10-pound bag of sugar.
Pour sugar into the pan with the melting butter.
Stir a couple times, watching as the sugar dissolves.
There we go. Nice and smooth sweet butter mixture. The kind of thing 7 year-old me might have tried to sneak a finger into when Mom wasn’t looking. I’m not fessing up; just noting a possibility.
Time to bring out the candy thermometer, crank the heat up a bit, and watch things start to boil.
The hotter the liquid toffee gets, the more violently it bubbles. It even starts to look frothy, but that just means candy is in the making!
And the sugar starts to caramelize into that lovely golden brown toffee color. Just a little longer until it will reach hard crack stage, which is where candy magic happens.
Once it hits 300F, vanilla must get stirred in briefly before the entire batch is poured into a pan.
Or in my case, three pans.
Spreading the candy with a spatula immediately after pouring it onto the pan helps stretch it further for more guests, but also alleviates the problem of uneven pans or pans on tilted surfaces. I encountered both on this particular candy-making adventure.
Just a minute later, once it has begun to set but is still very hot, I poured chocolate chips and chopped chocolate over the hot toffee.
Leave the chocolate alone, and after a minute, it will start to melt.
Once the chocolate chips and chunks have that glossy, melted look, it’s time to spread them around in an even layer across the toffee.
While the chocolate sets up a bit, I prepared my nut topping. As is usual (for the past couple years, anyway), I went with pistachios, but pecans, almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts – any nut, really – would do just as well.
I pulsed my pistachios into crumbs that still had a bit of texture, but my mom prefers hers more finely ground. Both work.
Sprinkle the ground nuts over the chocolate while the chocolate was still melted. Take a blurry picture of the process.
Decide whether to cover the chocolate thoroughly for a bit more of a nutty taste or scantily if the nuts are functioning more as decor.
Get close. Take a whiff. Or a close-up picture. Then back off. Let the toffee cool and set completely, a process that can be sped up in the fridge if needed. Then break it into shards with the tip of a sharp knife for easy serving.
Toffee topped with Bittersweet Chocolate and Pistachios
Please check out my original post on toffee, which has MUCH better pictures.
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 to 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. finely chopped pistachios (or almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.), preferably toasted; but pistachios turn a bit brown when you do that, so if you want a festive green, avoid the toasting
In saucepan over low heat, melt room temperature butter with the sugar and water.
Once butter is completely melted, increase heat to medium-high, and stir the mixture constantly.
Remove pan from the heat once the mixture reaches 300°F (hard crack). Immediately stir in the vanilla extract, and pour the mixture onto a sheet pan. With a spatula, spread mixture into rectangular shape as the toffee hardens (toffee should be 1/4-inch thick or a little thinner, depending how you prefer it).
After toffee cools for a couple minutes but while toffee is still hot, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Once chips are mostly softened (after about 2 minutes), use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the surface of the toffee. Sprinkle the chocolate surface with chopped nuts.
Let the toffee cool for 20 minutes until pan returns to room temperature. Then put pan in refrigerator and allow toffee to set for at least 30 minutes.
Remove toffee from refrigerator. Break into pieces, and store in refrigerated, airtight container for up to a week.