I've been making the same almond toffee forever, but wanted to try something different this year. I'll still make the almond candy, but alongside it will be this Brown Sugar Pecan Toffee! It's a very easy candy recipe with only four ingredients. All you need are pecan halves, brown sugar, salted butter and milk chocolate.Jump to Recipe
How This Recipe is Different
English toffee is usually made with brown sugar, but this candy is not the same as English toffee. For one thing, the ratio of brown sugar to butter is higher, so you get a little more brown sugar flavor. It's also a lot thicker, with big pecan chunks, unlike most toffee that has very finely chopped nuts. And the chocolate topping is also key. The piece in the photo above has a pretty scant layer of chocolate on it, but I usually make the chocolate layer a little thicker.
Not Much Stirring
My other toffee is unusual in that it requires stirring. This one is more standard in that you do not do much stirring at all. You stir the butter and brown sugar together until fully blended, then cook with minimal to no stirring until candy reaches the hard crack stage. A reliable candy thermometer is must. My favorite is the Taylor deep fry thermometer because you can lean it on the pot and position the bulb in the center of the pan. It has a little metal piece on the end that keeps the bulb elevated so that it's not touching the bottom of the saucepan. For the saucepan, I use my old Green Pan, which has been great for candy making.
Hard Crack Stage. Yikes!
If the term hard crack stage makes you nervous, don't be. It is the highest temperature candy should reach, right before burning, but don't worry. Just as you reach 310 degrees F. you'll probably start to smell a little burning. You definitely don't want to cook the toffee anymore after this point, but if that happens just grab it, stir and pour. A little burnt flavor won't ruin this candy. However, you should try not to let that happen by pulling the candy right around 305 degrees F.
Covering With Melted Chocolate
With this recipe, you don't stir the nuts into the toffee, but rather pour the candy over the nuts. While the toffee is very hot, you scatter squares of milk chocolate over it and allow them to soften to a spreadable consistency. At this point the toffee will be soft and rubbery in texture, but it will be firm enough to hold the chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted and you've spread it, you can put it in the refrigerator for several hours to set. I'm impatient and have found the freezer works well too!
Good luck with the recipe! And don't be scared off by the candy thermometer. This is a good one. And here's the link to my Almond Toffee if you want to try that one as well.
Brown Sugar Pecan Toffee
- 1 ½ cups pecan halves
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened (228 grams)
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar (300 grams)
- 8 ounces good quality dark or milk chocolate chopped
- Lay pecans flat on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are fragrant and toasted. Let cool, then chop lengthwise or into large chunks.
- Line a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and set next to stove.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, gently melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, then stir until sugar is as fully blended as you can get it. The butter will be a bit separated from the sugar, but that's okay.
- Set a deep fry thermometer in the pan, being careful that bulb is not touching bottom, and begin cooking over medium-low to medium heat (will vary from stove to stove), at a simmer with the temperature slowly rising, stirring only as needed before 240 (not after) until the mixture reaches hard crack stage or between 305 and 310 degrees F. This process (starting from when you put the melted butter/sugar mixture over the heat) should take about 20 minutes, so keep the temperature rising slowly and only turn up the heat a tiny bit if it stalls.
- Mixture will continue to darken. Be vigilant when you approach the 300 mark and stir if you smell anything close to burning.
- When mixture reaches 310F, immediately remove from heat and pour over the pecans. It will seem soft like toffee at first.
- Scatter squares of chocolate across the hot toffee. Invert a rimmed baking sheet over to hasten the melting process, then begin spreading melted chocolate over evenly. Let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator. The toffee will harden and the chocolate will set.
- After about 2 hours, loosen slab and break into large chunks.