Scottish Toffee

By • December 9, 2009 • 83 Comments

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Author Notes: I make batches of this during the holidays and I've done so for so many years that I didn't have a recipe written out. Folks love it so much that they ask to be added to my toffee list and are prompt to remind me if I'm a little late in my deliveries. The December holidays at our house mean batch after batch of toffee-making. I could make this in my sleep! I taught my mother how to make this and we enjoyed making it together once my folks moved to San Diego in 1988. (I've included a photo of our first "California Christmas" together.) After she died, it took me three years before I could bear to make toffee and I renamed it "Scottish Toffee" in honor of her MacPherson roots. For me, this recipe is all about giving and sharing -- everything I love about cooking and being in my kitchen, just as women in my family have always done.Lizthechef

Food52 Review: WHO: Lizthechef is inspired by the recipes and techniques of Ina Garten and Melissa Clark.
WHAT: An edible gift that your friends, family, and neighbors would probably pay you for (but don’t get any ideas).
HOW: Sandwich buttery caramel between layers of melted semisweet chocolate and finely chopped almonds. Freeze for an hour before breaking and gifting.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If you’re planning on giving this as a present, be warned: Once you’ve had one piece of this simple-to-make candy, you will have to have another. It's chocolatey, nutty, and crunchy, and the story behind it (read Lizthechef’s headnote) is in the spirit of the holiday season.
The Editors

Makes one cookie sheet's worth

  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds, divided in two
  • 18 ounces (1 1/2 packages) semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli, divided in two
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, generously packed
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon best-quality vanilla extract
  • Good-quality sea salt, optional
  1. Put half the nuts and half the chocolate chips onto a cookie sheet.
  2. Using a candy thermometer to monitor, cook butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat in medium-sized pot until you reach "hard crack" stage -- 300° F. Stir constantly. This will take about 15 minutes. (Using a copper pot allows you to cook at a higher temperature without burning the caramel.)
  3. Remove the pot from heat and quickly add salt and vanilla.
  4. Carefully pour the caramel mixture over the mix of nuts and chocolate. Sprinkle remaining chocolate over hot mixture. When melted, smooth out with the back of large spoon. Sprinkle remaining nuts and gently press into the toffee. If you like salted caramels, you may want to sprinkle some good-quality sea salt on top of the candy.
  5. Freeze one hour before breaking into pieces for storage -- or snacking.
Jump to Comments (83)

Tags: candy, Holidays, Holidays, toffee

Comments (83) Questions (2)

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2 days ago dymnyno

Congratulations on a great recipe! (I just saw this after 2 days without internet)

Newliztoqueicon-2

1 day ago Lizthechef

Thanks, Mary, I missed it myself - xo

Newliztoqueicon-2

4 days ago Lizthechef

Thanks, lapadia - I had missed that my toffee was a wildcard winner -

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

4 days ago lapadia

I have this recipe on my "to make" list this holiday...fyi!

Newliztoqueicon-2

4 days ago Lizthechef

I have made 8 batches of it for gifts and happily stored my copper "toffee" pan away until next year. Good luck -

Stringio

7 months ago Gilda Pratt

My daughter and I made this for her Heritage day at school, here in SD...in honor of HER MacPherson roots! Thank you SO much for sharing what I know will be a traditional treat in our home!

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9 months ago mlrj

I have been making this for over 30 years but have always used white sugar. I'm going to try it next time with brown sugar. (I also always use milk chocolate chips.)
The separation problems have happened to me and my sister too. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. We have never figured it out yet. It doesn't matter how hot you get it or the brand of ingredients or whether it's salted butter or not. We can't even tell if it's a humidity issue. It just happens.

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10 months ago Food Cobbler

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I look forward to succeeding and sharing my results with friends.

For those of us with separation problems (I tested the recipe today and experienced separation somewhere between 250 F and 275 F on my glass bulb candy thermometer, though I did reach 300 F at the 15-minute mark), I recommend reading this page (http://www.melskitchencafe...) and checking the reading on your thermometer in boiling water. I tested mine and, for my elevation, it read 11 degrees too low. I read other sources that indicate their thermometers are less accurate at higher temperatures. The next time I test this recipe I will ignore the thermometer and go by look and feel now that I've experienced what I believe is passing the proper point and reaching the separation stage. I don't have experience with candy making, but I can see how experience with the look and feel of the stages is very beneficial given the fallibility of our tools.

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about 1 year ago Raquelita

could the next person to successfully make this please weigh the brown sugar? I haven't had success since the first time I made it. I'm terribly sad about it.

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about 1 year ago Raquelita

also, do you really stir the whole time? it seems like first melting the sugar, then stirring, might produce the right results.

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 1 year ago Lizthechef

I just made a perfect batch last night but that is an excellent idea to weigh the brown sugar! Try lightly packing the one cup measure. And yes, I stir it constantly.

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about 1 year ago luciadillon

Liz, how do you chop your nuts and what do you consider to be a cookie sheet? 1/2 sheet pan?

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 1 year ago Lizthechef

1/2 sheet pan - I throw mine in my 25-year-old processor. Get them finely chopped.

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 3 years ago Lizthechef

I suggest to use "medium-high" heat in my recipe - wonder if you did this? I just made 20 batches - no problems - except I'm pooped ;) Sorry it didn't work for you. Couldn't you stir it together?

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about 3 years ago lovelola

Uh oh- my attempt ended up in the separation of the oil from the mixture as well. It happened around 250 degrees of slow heat in a heavy pan. It looked beautiful up until that point- I have no clue what went wrong...

Me_and_fb_bw

12 months ago Angel

I don't know if it's true- but I've been told Salted butter prevents the "breaking"

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about 3 years ago woody

Good. Should enter contest with this.

Nog

about 3 years ago Niknud

Love the story and the toffee sounds delicious - going on the holiday baking rotation because when all of these amazing cooks are saying the same thing you know it's got to be a winner!

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Thanks, I just made my first batch - here come the holidays!

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yay! I'm glad you re-posted this. I'm planning on making it for my food52 potluck.

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Wonderful - have a great potluck! I'm flying to the Bay Area in 2 weeks for one too.

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love this recipe, too! Have a great time, both of you! We should think of a way to have a virtual potluck so we can all meet each other sort of in person.

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about 3 years ago Love Baking

Message for Sandy - just wanted to let you know that I had the same problem with the mixture separating and going oily as the temperature increased! You are not alone! I resolved it by using a different pan, and also not getting to the exact temperature - makes the texture a little different, but still works. Liz - a fab combination of nuts and chocolate - love how the choc melts. I put milk choc on the bottom, and dark choc on the top, with 3/4 almonds and 1/4 Brazil nuts, and these are what I had to hand. Thanks for the great idea - I will make again and again. So moreish!

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about 3 years ago Chloe Skinner

Hey there, I have a nut allergy and was wondering if there would be anything I could swap for the almonds? :)

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Why not just omit them?

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about 3 years ago Love Baking

I agree - just omit them. Or, what about raisins or dried cranberries, or even dried apricots with white chocolate, perhaps? I am going to try this.

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over 3 years ago catfurisgood

Looking for a wonderful recipe to send my son who is away at college. It makes me feel like I can still do something for him. Thanks so much for sharing.

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Sure! You might want to wait for the cool weather before sending this through the mail, though...

Lorigoldsby

over 3 years ago lorigoldsby

lovely story, I understand the need to put space between your mother's passing and the making of the toffee...I went thru something similar when Gran passed. Amazing how when you pick it up again, it feels like you reconnect with them?

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Gosh, so sorry this comment was not picked up in my email. Yes, the reconnection can be powerful!

Steve_dunn02

over 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Liz - this is my Mom's favorite candy and I can't tell you how excited I am to have found this recipe. Mother's Day is right around the corner, and she'll be getting a double batch. - S

Newliztoqueicon-2

over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Sorry I missed this, Steve, as I wasn't getting comments fed into my email through some error. Hope your Mom liked the toffee!

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

over 3 years ago lapadia

Yum, thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe with us, again! Lovely...

Cakes

over 3 years ago Bevi

This is a killer toffee recipe. I'm glad I finally caught it, what, a year later??