Chocolate-Covered Pecan Toffee:  Epic Fail to Major Win!

Chocolate-Covered Pecan Toffee: Epic Fail to Major Win!

Apropro of nothing, have I told you about my dog?  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she’s my husband’s dog?  Her name is Freya, she is a German Shepherd and she is 18 months old.  More on that later.

But first, back to the final installment of Candyfest 2010, Chocolate Covered Pecan Toffee!  To the best of my recollection, this is the first time I had ever attempted to make toffee, so to learn how, my friend Paula and I consulted with our millions of close personal friends on the Internet.  We found a recipe for Pecan Toffee at Epicurious with simple ingredients and high ratings.   A quick review of the user comments revealed that one person had experienced a separation of the butter and sugar, but surely that wouldn’t happen to us.

We followed the directions to the letter, but as we approached the final temperature on the candy thermometer, to our horror…separation.  Clearly something had gone wrong, but we poured it out into our pan anyway.  The color was good, but pools of clear butter swirled on top of the toffee.  It didn’t look promising, but we put it on the railing of the deck to cool and waited to see what would happen.

This is what happened.

The photo I didn’t take was Freya chewing on the toffee while pushing it around in the leaves.  Ironically, it didn’t taste half bad, but dog slobber covered greasy toffee wasn’t going to make the cut, so back to the drawing board.

We went back to Epicurious and read the comments more carefully this time.  We found two important suggestions from those who had gone before.  One had to do with stirring the mixture during a critical phase of the cooking and the other had to do with additional ingredients to make the candy more stable.

Frankly, I was feeling a bit intimidated at this point.  I didn’t want to fail again and loose another pound of butter, but as I so often say…Be Brave!  So once more into the candy breech my friends!!

I won’t keep you in suspense, the new formula worked, it worked very well.  So here is the recipe for successful homemade toffee.  Don’t worry, we already took care of the epic fail, so that you can skip straight to candy making success.

Chocolate Covered Pecan Toffee

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans, divided

Makes 3 lbs

Line a 13 X 18-inch half-sheet baking pan with foil, overlapping the sides. Butter the foil.  Melt 2 cups (that’s 1 pound baby!) unsalted butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and sea salt.  Stir until the sugar is completely soaked in butter.  Increase heat to high and insert a candy thermometer.

Important Toffee Tip #1: When the mixture reaches 236 degrees F, stir constantly until it reaches 290 degrees F to prevent the butter from separating.

Important Toffee Tip #2: When candy reaches 310 degrees F, remove from the heat and add 1 cup of the chopped pecans and the baking soda.

Stir until incorporated then pour toffee into prepared pan. Let stand 1 minute. Sprinkle with chocolate.

Let stand 2 minutes to soften. Spread chocolate with a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon until melted and smoothed over the toffee. Sprinkle with remaining toasted pecans.

Refrigerate or keep at room temperature until firm. Using the foil, remove the toffee from the pan.  Break into pieces and store chilled in an airtight container for up to a week.