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My Gift To You: Mom’s Famous Toffee Recipe

2013 December 16
by Becky

easy toffee recipe

It’s not fancy or difficult. Doesn’t include expensive ingredients or take a lot of time.

But people LOVE this toffee.

My mom has made it my whole life, every year at Christmas. So, naturally, I make it too.

I also make  things like truffles and cookies and dark chocolate bark and one year I even made marshmallows. I give out heaping plates of these treats to neighbors and friends, I always took in a huge tray to the office when I worked in one.

No matter what I make, it never ceases to shock me that the most attention goes to the toffee. Every single year, without fail. People rave and beg for the recipe, which I’m always happy to provide verbally, but I’ve yet to write it down.

This recipe is not rocket science, similar recipes are all over the web. Nonetheless, there’s something about this it that people love, so I thought I’d share!

Here goes…

First up,  a very clean sheet pan covered in an even layer of chopped pecans.


Things go really fast, so I get everything else ready before even turning on the stove. That includes the chocolate, whether melted ahead of time or just chocolate chips measured out.

Moms Famous Toffee Setup

Set the chocolate and sheet pan with pecans next to the stove. Grab a rubber spatula and set it near by too.

Next step is the caramel, which begins with butter.

Moms Famous Toffee Butter

I like to use a big pot, my cast iron Le Creuset pot works great because of it’s weight and even heat distribution. Plus it’s pretty in pictures.

With the heat on medium high, get the butter melting. I don’t thaw it, just throw it in frozen. A whole pound.

As it melts, start adding your sugar. Two cups. Just dump it in and give it a stir.

Moms Famous Toffee Sugar Butter

Four sticks of butter + two cups of sugar = caramel.

It will start bubbling, which is great, just make sure it’s not getting brown too fast, if that happens it means your heat is to high. Give it an occasional stir.

Moms Famous Toffee - Stirring

It will get more bubbly.

Moms Famous Toffee - Caramel Bubbles1

At around nine minutes, the mixture should be good and bubbly, very well combined.

Moms Famous Toffee - Caramel Bubbles

The butter will begin to separate from the mixture, kind of floating around on top making little rivers in the browning sugar.

Don’t panic.

This is probably the most questioned part of making this caramel recipe. Just use a little caution stirring at this point because the butter can “slosh” easily and it’s very hot. Like lava.

Moms Famous Toffee - Caramel Separation

When everything looks wrong and seems un-rescuable, at around the 15 minute mark, I grab a whisk. It makes me feel more productive in my stirring and seems to help bring things back together.

Moms Famous Toffee - Ready Caramel

A minute later, the world is right again and it all comes back together. A perfect golden caramel.

Next up is the dangerous part—pouring the molten caramel over the pecans, CAREFULLY. Use giant oven mitts, this stuff is no joke. My mom and I have straight up battle scars from caramel burns. Think “melted plastic”.

Moms Famous Toffee - Caramel Pour

As you pour, the caramel will seep into all the crevasses and bubbles will surface. If you work quickly, a spatula can be used to fill in any empty spots. I use a zig zag to get a nice even coat right off the bat.

Moms Famous Toffee - Chocolate

Pour the chocolate over the still gooey caramel, gently spreading it with a spatula, being careful not to disturb the caramel. Often I just sprinkle chocolate chips right on the hot caramel and let them melt, it works great. But this was mom’s way so I’m writing it as such.

Moms Famous Toffee - Chocolate Layer

Let the lovely chocolatey goodness hang out on your counter for a few hours to set. I’ve tried “fast setting” in the fridge or freezer right away, but advise against it—it causes chocolate adherence issues. Once set, stick the pan in the fridge to harden. I sometimes leave mine for a day or two until I’m ready to break it up.

I’ve tried adding sea salt to the top, tried using salted caramel, and experimented with several different types of chocolate, but really the original version is the best. If it ain’t broke…

Here’s the recipe, let me know if you try it. Thanks to my mom for passing it down!

Mom’s Famous Toffee
Makes one sheet pan of toffee
printer-friendly version

3 cups roughly chopped pecans
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
20 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli) some prefer milk chocolate, that works too!

Spread and even layer of chopped pecans on a clean sheet pan and set an place somewhere near the stove. You can melt your chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (microwave for periods of around 30 seconds to one minute, stirring often to prevent burning) or skip this step and just leave your chocolate chips in a bowl near your sheet pan. 

Heat a large pot (cast iron works great!) over medium-high heat and add all four sticks of butter. When the butter starts to melt, add sugar, stirring just to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Continue stirring the caramel occasionally as it boils for approximately 20 minutes. Butter and sugar will separate but will come back together, a whisk is helpful in reincorporating the butter.

When the caramel is rich brown (a caramel color…ha ha), immediately pour it evenly over the pecans, trying to leave as few gaps as possible. Be sure to use good pot holders! Hot caramel is pretty darn dangerous. Use a spatula to fill in any uncovered areas, but work quickly as the caramel sets fast. Finally, pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer, again using a spatula to even it out OR sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot caramel and smooth as they melt. The melted chocolate tends to be a thicker coating, letting the chocolate chips melt on their own is typically a bit thinner.

Let the toffee set at room temperature. Once completely firm, place in the fridge to harden more, around 24 hours. Break the toffee into small pieces with your hands. This recipe makes enough to fill a gallon-size zip lock bag. Keep the toffee in the fridge or freezer all holiday season! It’s best eaten at room temperature.  


10 Responses
  1. December 17, 2013

    WOW!!! Thanks for the tribute!! So glad you’re passing it on for future generations to enjoy. It’s nice to have traditions you can count on year after year. My friends look forward to their Christmas gift of toffee each year as well. I’ve made about 5 batches so far this year, but it’s still not enough. In fact, I made one last night and will probably make 3 more this week. ENJOY!!!

  2. Grandpa Joe permalink
    December 17, 2013


  3. Linda Johnson permalink
    December 17, 2013

    It’s the best!!

  4. Megan permalink
    December 17, 2013

    I am going to try and bake this for a girls night on Thursday. I was looking for something different and came across your FB link. Can’t wait! Thanks for sharing.

    • Becky permalink*
      December 17, 2013

      Do it! I put some out at a play date this morning and it was gone in no time. Perfect for girls night!!

      • September 7, 2015

        Gee whiz, and I thuoght this would be hard to find out.

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