Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wonder Wife Recipe: Ghirardelli English Toffee

This is not an original Wonder Wife recipe - it's the recipe straight from Ghirardelli's chocolate bar wrapper - but I wanted to show you guys how easy it is to make the best toffee you've ever eaten.

I've always been intimidated by "candy-making," but it's really pretty simple (as long as you've got a candy thermometer, which is VITAL). And for the record, I made this yesterday while it was raining and my windows were wide open. So baby, we're talking lots of humidity. And it still worked.

So if you want to put together a batch of extremely delicious toffee, gather a few simple ingredients and bolster your spirits! Because HERE WE GO!

In a saucepan with straight sides, toss 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of butter, 2 tablespoons of water,

and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, take a handful of mixed nuts (the original recipe calls for pecans, but I think these are just fine)...

And chop them finely.

Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about five minutes.

I toasted these for a little too long and the edges were burning, so I took them off the cookie sheet right away. But you can still see the toasty brown color.

Also, take a sheet of foil and make a little "tray" by folding up the sides. This doesn't have to be water-tight, so don't worry about making it perfect. Set the tray on a cookie sheet.

Begin melting the ingredients in the saucepan...

... and grab your trusty candy thermometer. You can't see this, but there's a clip on the thermometer for attaching it to the side of the pan. I would not know how to make this toffee without a candy thermometer - it is VITAL. And since one of these will only set you back about $1.50, why not have one in your drawer just in case you get a candy hankering?

Make sure the metal tip is not resting on the bottom of the pan.

As luck would have it, the temperature that we're going to look for (305 degrees F) is covered up by the clip. So instead of photographing the rising mercury, I'm going to show you the progression of color in the toffee and trust YOU to look for 305 degrees F when you make it yourself. With your candy thermometer.

Did I mention that having one is VITAL?

Bring the toffee to a boil over medium heat and stir periodically. Make sure you get the corners of the saucepan to keep the sugar from getting trapped and burning.

The toffee will thicken as it boils.

As the temperature rises, the color will begin to darken.

Remember to stir every now and then.

Here, the temperature has now risen to about 305 degrees F, what some cooks call the "hard-crack stage." It's ready! At this temperature, the sugar will start burning, so stir prodigiously!

As SOON as it reaches 305 degrees F, turn off the heat...

... take one teaspoon of vanilla...

... and stir it in fiercely!

Now, with a heatproof spatula (which I've been using to stir the toffee this whole time) pour the toffee onto your foil shell.

Quickly, before it hardens - and it does start to harden fast - use the spatula to spread it as far to the edges as it'll go.

I could have spread it thinner, and I SHOULD have, too, but since I was taking pictures, it hardened faster than I could work.

Now wait about 45 minutes to an hour, until the toffee has hardened.

Take 8 ounces of chocolate chips - here, I'm using the 60% Cacoa Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips - and microwave in 30-second bursts until it's smooth.

Pour onto the hardened toffee and spread with a spatula.

Remember those toasted nuts? Sprinkle them onto the melted chocolate...

... and gently flatten with your hand to adhere them.

Let rest until the chocolate hardens, about an hour.

Now break it up into bite-size pieces, and eat! Or wrap in a wax-paper-lined gift box...

... tie with a bow, and give to someone you appreciate.

Ghirardelli English Toffee
Yield: 1.25 pound(s)
  • 8 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar or Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup(s) pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup(s) butter
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 2 tablespoon(s) water
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant. With heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch square shell with 1-inch high sides. Place the foil shell on a baking sheet, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290F because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture reaches 305F, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into the foil shell. Spread with a spatula.

Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until hard. Melt the chocolate according to instructions on the side of package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle with the pecans, pressing lightly to set pecans into chocolate. Let set at room temperature 1 hour, or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 month.

This recipe is copied and pasted straight from Ghirardelli's website!


  1. YUM! Are you sending that box to me?! :-)

  2. AH ha ha! It was for Brian's coworker. BUT I bet it would make a great science project to do with the kids! Chemistry in action! The useful kind! :)