How to Make Toffee
Making toffee has been a tradition in my home for years at Christmas time. It seems like it would be quite complicated to pull off, but it is actually a simple treat to whip up. Plus, the main ingredients are probably sitting in your kitchen right now, just waiting for you to put them to use!
1 stick butter
1 stick margarine (don't try to use two sticks of margarine or two sticks of butter. It absolutely needs to be one stick of each).
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 regular-sized Hershey milk chocolate bars or one giant-sized Hershey bar
Crushed pretzels or almonds (approximately 2 cups)
In total, you will cook the first four ingredients above for about 20 minutes on medium-high heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly. You will see the yellow mixture get very bubbly first, as the picture below shows. Page down to see the rest of the process.
The mixture will then become a bubbly amber color, as in the picture below. Notice the veins in the mixture (squiggly lines) are present but are not yet dark brown. It is only when they become dark brown that you need to go to the next step.
When the amber mixture starts to create some brown streaks or veins (see the picture below), remove the pan from the heat and stir in one teaspoon vanilla at that time.
Once the vanilla has been thoroughly mixed throughout the amber mixture, pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet with a lip around the edges. Make sure that you have potholders or hot pads underneath the cookie sheet to protect your counter top.
Let the mixture ooze to fill up the cookie sheet (if it doesn't fill it, that's okay). I usually make two batches in two separate saucepans at one time so that the entire cookie sheet can be filled. You can probably even see below the two separate batches that I have poured out onto one cookie sheet.
Next, melt the equivalent of three regular-sized Hershey bars or one giant-sized bar on top of the toffee (just break them into pieces and set them on top throughout).
When the bars are melted and the toffee has had a chance to gel for a few minutes, spread the melted chocolate over the entire pan of toffee and sprinkle crushed nuts (almonds work well) or pretzels.
Cool in fridge for several hours or overnight. Later or the next day, using a butter knife, break the toffee into bite-sized chunks. Keep toffee pieces refrigerated until ready to serve.
Often, I package about twenty pieces of toffee to give away as a gift along with other confections. People hint every year that they would like some again!