Scottish Toffee

December 9, 2009


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

Ingredients

  • 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
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Candy|Scottish|Chocolate|Christmas|Vegetarian|Dessert

Reviews (104) Questions (2)

104 Reviews

Mary R. October 27, 2018
I'm excited about making this Scottish Toffee! If I were to break up the half sheet toffee- ho many "servings" do you think it would make? If I add it up correctly, the finished toffee should be about 2.25 lbs? So maybe 8 x 4 oz+ servings? Also, I have my Mom's Revereware pan with copper bottom. Will that work?
 
Pat I. December 9, 2017
It’s that xmas candy time of year again...My husband likes to make toffee every year but due to a recent move the regular recipe was still in storage. Enter Food 52: The first batch was a separation disaster in spite of Trader Joe’s butter, All Clad copper core pan and perfectly calibrated therma pen. The culprit...my husband likes to attack his cooking episodes and typically stirs things like he’s fighting off a giant squid. A few calming zen moments, a bit slower flame, and a lighter touch delivered two perfect batches. I do suggest a quarter sheet pan as the half sheet was too big for just one batch. Great recipe and easy to do. Thanks!
 
student E. December 19, 2015
I just made this, following the directions exactly. I think I need to recalibrate my thermometer because the toffee got a little too brown (not quite burnt, but almost) even though it read <300. I agree with another commenter that I might use less chocolate next time, but I think that is more personal preference. And there will definitely be a next time! Thanks, Liz!
 
Michelle T. January 31, 2015
Made this tonight with 1 bag of chocolate chips and some chipotle glazed pecans I had left over from another recipe. The flavor is fantastic but the texture is not quite right. It did not get brittle enough so it is closer to a praline than toffee. The mixture did separate when I was cooking, and I did apply the hot water fix. It seemed to work, but perhaps that was the reason for the overly soft outcome.
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef January 31, 2015
I guess this is my last comment on my recipe. It works, as written.
 
Michelle T. January 31, 2015
That's okay - other comments have been super helpful in trying to sort out the (obviously) common separation problems. Hopefully if anyone else had the lack of hardness problem, they will also post what worked to solve it. Other than slightly modifying the additives (chips and nuts), followed recipe as written.<br />
 
luvcookbooks January 3, 2015
Congratulations on the wild card win!
 
MRubenzahl December 29, 2014
Oh, and no issues with it separating or graininess. I added a couple of tablespoons of corn syrup, as I walys do for candies, as it helps prevent crystallization.
 
MRubenzahl December 29, 2014
Love this! But I am about to use three words I never thought I would: "Too much chocolate!" More like chocolate bark with some toffee under it, delicious but for me, the toffee is kind of lost. I love the idea of pouring the toffee over the chocolate chips to melt them. Just would use 1/2 - 2/3 the amount. But that's just me. <br />
 
Peg W. December 26, 2014
Toffee recipes that use this much butter can break very easily. There's a similar recipe on the Land o' Lakes site, and they advise: <br /><br />" - If your toffee separates during cooking, carefully and slowly add 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir constantly until mixture goes back together."<br /><br />
 
Cands S. December 26, 2014
I have issues with graininess from the brown sugar but none of I use white sugar. Is it supposed to be grainy?
 
Deb December 26, 2014
Some toffee recipes call for baking soda and some call for no stirring at all. Do you know how each of these changes the finished product? Thank you!<br />Love your story
 
Brenda December 26, 2014
Almost word for word same as King Arthur recipe with a couple slight changes. How can it be entered in so many contests?
 
dymnyno December 26, 2014
There probably a million recipes for this candy, all "with a couple of slight changes" and what a difference those changes can make, as anyone who cooks on a regular basis can attest!
 
mainesoul December 21, 2014
I rarely make desert and I have never made candy. Yet I attempted this without a copper pot. I did have a candy thermometer and a glass pot. I used pecans instead of almonds. This came up perfect.
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 21, 2014
So glad it was a success for you. It was years of toffee-making before my husband gave me a copper pot. The copper allows me to cook it at a higher heat without scorching the toffee.
 
mainesoul December 22, 2014
I understand about the copper pot. I was pleased with myself that I had great results with a glass pot.
 
kit December 20, 2014
Hi Liz. About to attempt this... Does it matter whether dark brown sugar or light brown sugar?
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 20, 2014
I use light.
 
kit December 21, 2014
Made different batches with light and dark and think the light is better. I had ghiradelli bittersweet chips (not semi sweet) which are quite big for chips so in latter versions I deleted the bottom layer of chips and just melted them on top. It turned out nicer looking and didn't sacrifice the sweetness. Thx for sharing this recipe. Going to try and make it an annual tradition!
 
dymnyno December 17, 2014
Congratulations on a great recipe! (I just saw this after 2 days without internet)
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 18, 2014
Thanks, Mary, I missed it myself - xo
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 16, 2014
Thanks, lapadia - I had missed that my toffee was a wildcard winner -
 
lapadia December 16, 2014
I have this recipe on my "to make" list this holiday...fyi!
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 16, 2014
I have made 8 batches of it for gifts and happily stored my copper "toffee" pan away until next year. Good luck -
 
Gilda P. May 15, 2014
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!
 
mlrj April 8, 2014
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.) <br />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.
 
Food C. March 2, 2014
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I look forward to succeeding and sharing my results with friends.<br /><br />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.com/calibrating-a-candy-thermometer-candy-thermometer-recommendations) 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.
 
Raquelita December 18, 2013
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.
 
Raquelita December 18, 2013
also, do you really stir the whole time? it seems like first melting the sugar, then stirring, might produce the right results.
 
Author Comment
Lizthechef December 18, 2013
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.