Although I’ve eaten toffee many times, until today I didn’t know how it was made. Similar to caramel, toffee is created by caramelizing sugar (or molasses) with butter and bringing it to “hard crack stage,” a term employed in candy making that equates to about 300 degrees.
My experience with toffee has usually come in the form of the Heath bar, a wonderful concoction of toffee covered in chocolate. These bars taste a great deal like Heath bars and are easier to make than one might think at first glance, as they employ sweetened condensed milk and butter to create the toffee layer.
Just a few tips: you’ll want to be sure to cut the bars and remove them from the pan within minutes of pouring on the chocolate layer, as I can imagine them being difficult to pry out otherwise. I found that using a small offset spatula to spread the chocolate layer worked out well; you’ll also want to use a small offset spatula to remove the bars from the pan once you’ve cut them.
For the crust:
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
For the toffee layer:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the chocolate layer:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 teaspoons hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the crust; in a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon, then with your hands, until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
While crust is baking, prepare toffee layer; in a medium saucepan, combine butter and sweetened condensed milk and cook over medium heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; immediately pour and spread over hot crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove baking dish from oven and allow to cool for just a few minutes while you prepare the chocolate layer.
For the chocolate layer, in a medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate over low heat and allow to melt, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons hot water. Stir until very smooth; if necessary, add 2 additional teaspoons hot water, 1 at a time, to reach a very pourable consistency. Spread over warm bars.
Using a very sharp knife, cut bars and immediately remove from pan. Cool on a wire rack.