Friday, December 2, 2011

Day Two: Dad's Famous Toffee

Dad's Famous Toffee wasn't made by my dad, but it was made by A dad. My grandpa to be exact. Every year, he'd clear off the kitchen counter and cook tray after tray of toffee. I remember my grandma doing most of the cooking, so it was always a treat to have something grandpa made.

Christmas Eve at Grandpa and Grandma Tobin's was always a highlight of my year. The house would be overflowing with people (my grandparents had seven children!). After a bit, we'd hear sleigh bells and footsteps, and Santa would make his way downstairs with presents for all the kids. When Santa left, we'd break open the Christmas pinata my relatives from Arizona sent, and we'd scramble for the candy inside. We'd sing Christmas carols around the piano.

Dad's famous toffee was always out on the table. Toffee wasn't my go-to dessert as a kid, but I've grown to love it as an adult, particularly this version I've doctored up with a little chocolate.

If you're looking for an easy Christmas gift to share with your friends or co-workers, this toffee will definitely do the trick. And if you're carrying around any extra holiday stress, whacking the bottom of the pan repeatedly will help relieve it.

Dad's Famous Toffee

By accident, my mother and aunt both made batches of toffee with one stick of butter instead of two. They claimed they couldn't tell the difference between the two batches. I went for the full-fat version when making my toffee (my general preference when baking), but if you're looking for a slightly healthier option, try one stick of butter.

1 cup of butter, salted
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate (optional)
1 candy thermometer

Butter a large metal baking sheet and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients (except walnuts and chocolate) in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir continuously until the temperature on the candy thermometer reaches 270 degrees. The mixture will be light brown.

Add 1 cup chopped walnuts, stirring to incorporate. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a deep golden brown.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour onto a prepared baking sheet, tilting the pan to ensure the mixture spreads across the pan.

Wait two minutes, and then top with chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for two minutes, and then use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee.

Allow the toffee to cool completely and harden. Once cool, you should be able to lift it off the cookie sheet. Break the toffee into manageable pieces for eating with a knife or by hitting the bottom of the cookie sheet with a spoon.


  1. Toffee is something I've been wanting to try and this looks and sounds wonderful! I love that you listed the candy thermometer in the ingredients - some recipes just absolutely require one, don't they?

  2. My father-in-law made fudge every Christmas Eve. Best darned fudge in the universe. Now at 93, he has given us the recipe - but it never tastes as good as his! Love heirloom recipes and the toffee is a perfect holiday treat!

  3. Claudia--I definitely agree that there's something about having a recipe that's made by the person who originally made it for you. My mom's pot pie always tastes better than mine.

    Tug's Girl--Recipes definitely require specific tools! I'm always disappointed when I read through the ingredients list but not the recipe and end up missing something crucial!

  4. I can't seem to have enough toffee, I just love the hard texture and the sweet flavor

  5. Your Uncle Ed remembers this...Thanks for the recipe AND the story. I will try it!! Hearts, Aunt Carolyn

  6. Thanks Aunt Carolyn! I always particularly enjoy the family recipes!

  7. Toffee is Matt's favorite treat...he just loves it and I have to make small batches or he would eat it all in one sitting and be in a sugar coma for! I will give your recipe a try and see how it fairs here. I use David Lebovitz' and apparently it is good.

  8. I made this today and it is amazing! I was out of walnuts, but pecans were a perfectly good substitute. I hope it lasts long enough to give some in gift tins, but I'm having my doubts. Now that I've successfully made toffee, I'm thinking of a macadamia nut, white chocolate version . . .

  9. I made this last week and it is AMAZING! I was out of walnuts, but pecans made a perfectly acceptable substitute. Now I'm thinking macadamias and white chocolate . . . oh, the possibilities!

  10. Macadamias and white chocolate? That combination sounds just divine. You've got my wheels turning right now for holiday gifts! Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. I can see why it's famous! Thanks for linking it in to Food on Friday.

    1. Thanks, Carole! I always loved it when my grandpa made it!