toffee brittle

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Toffee Brittle with Chocolate and Sea Salt

By , from the Culinate Kitchen collection
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 3 lb.


In December 2007, it seemed, every major food magazine was touting the traditional joys of homemade holiday candy. This crunchy brittle is adapted from toffee recipes in Gourmet, Saveur, and Food & Wine.


4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups nuts (pecans, peanuts, etc.), toasted and chopped
2 cups bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), finely chopped, or 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
⅛ to ¼ cup coarse sea salt, such as Maldon


  1. Thickly butter a rimmed metal baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy metal saucepan (4 to 5 quarts), melt together the butter, sugar, and salt, whisking until smooth. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes and then constantly for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the mixture is a deep golden color (the hard-crack stage, or 300 degrees on a candy thermometer). Watch the mixture carefully during the last few minutes and stir thoroughly to prevent the mixture from burning.
  3. Immediately stir in the chopped nuts, then carefully pour the hot toffee into the center of the greased baking sheet. With a silicone or metal spatula, smooth the toffee flat until it’s about ½-inch thick.
  4. Let the toffee cool for a minute or two, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) over the surface of the toffee. When the chocolate has melted (about 4 to 5 minutes), spread it evenly across the toffee with the spatula.
  5. Let cool for another 10 minutes or so, then dust the chocolate with the coarse sea salt. (Sprinkle just a bit at first; if the salt melts into the chocolate immediately, wait another few minutes. The salt should stick to the chocolate without vanishing.)
  6. Place the tray of toffee in the freezer and freeze until the chocolate layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and break toffee into pieces. Layer between sheets of parchment or waxed paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature; the toffee will keep for about two weeks.


Since candy syrup is very hot (300 degrees), use only metal and silicone equipment for making this brittle. And be sure to soak all the utensils as soon as you’ve poured out the molten candy, or you’ll wind up with rock-hard candy stuck to your cooking pots and tools.

You can use less butter if you like, down to about 2 sticks (1/2 pound); the less you use, the clearer and harder the toffee will be.

For a traditional nut brittle, simply leave out the chocolate and the salt at the end.

This content is from the Culinate Kitchen collection.

There are 64 comments on this item
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Average Rating 4.7
15% recommend this recipe
1. by dddiva on Dec 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM PST

This looks amazing- my dad used to bring home toffee a co-worker made and I think I may just be up to making this one.

2. by OpusOne on Dec 12, 2008 at 12:34 PM PST

Drawing marker for Dec 12...

3. by dolls123 on Dec 12, 2008 at 12:21 PM PST

This looks really good

4. by pscheel on Dec 12, 2008 at 12:22 PM PST

Anyone have any idea how many ounces of chocolate would make 2 cups chopped? I buy chocolate in big blocks, so it’s easier to do by weight. Thanks!

5. by Xanthippe on Dec 12, 2008 at 12:38 PM PST

Well, now, let’s see:
Butter, sugar, coarse sea salt, nuts, bittersweet chocolate -- nothing not to like here! Another must-make recipe. Thank you.yhrxp

6. by dusksunset on Dec 12, 2008 at 12:53 PM PST

This sounds delicious, but potentially messy to make.

7. by scavalie on Dec 12, 2008 at 1:07 PM PST

ooh-- i think i’ll try this one this weekend!

8. by Caroline Cummins on Dec 12, 2008 at 1:08 PM PST

pscheel: At a dumb guess, I’d say 2 cups equals 16 ounces -- but I doubt you need an entire pound of chocolate to cover the toffee slab. Try chopping up 10 to 12 ounces or so first, see what fits comfortably in a 2-cup measuring cup, and try that. The goal is just to have enough chocolate to melt into an even layer atop the toffee.

9. by faither on Dec 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM PST

This is too great, can hardly wait to try this, along with the other recipes. Thanks.

10. by Jane K on Dec 12, 2008 at 2:18 PM PST

My husband would love for me to make this recipe.

11. by cdziuba on Dec 12, 2008 at 2:45 PM PST

This is really over-the-top. I’m not sure about all the butter! However, it looks divine.

12. by shandon on Dec 12, 2008 at 2:57 PM PST

I’d like some of this with salty macademia nuts!

13. by ptreskovich on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:11 PM PST

My friend has made a similar receipe for years and it very good. I think the chocolate topping on it would be sooo tasty.

14. by hotmama on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:13 PM PST

I love sweet and salty! Yum! Can’t wait to make this one!

15. by terriodea on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:31 PM PST

Is this a recipe for a homemade, giant Skor bar?! Happy Holidays to us! Thank you, this will be tried this weekend and hopefully be gifts for my daughter’s teachers.

16. by Emily on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:44 PM PST

What better way to spend a cold rainy/possibly snowy weekend then to make some toffee. Yum!

17. by LOVESTOBAKEJUSTLAZY on Dec 12, 2008 at 3:51 PM PST

these look good

18. by nicole309 on Dec 12, 2008 at 4:05 PM PST

I love toffee!!

19. by miriama59 on Dec 12, 2008 at 4:13 PM PST

Sea Salt? Wow.....I have been making toffee for quite a while but this is different. I have to try this!

20. by nlaugust on Dec 12, 2008 at 4:30 PM PST

Hint for pscheel: I think a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips is 2 cups. Since the recipe uses chips and baking chocolate interchangeably, you can assume the recipe is aiming for 12 oz of chocolate.
The addition of chocolate and sea salt really poshes this confection up a notch- like peanut brittle goes to Sundance. I think the peak of elegance and flavor would be to use local oregon hazelnuts instead of mixed nuts.

21. by kmg365 on Dec 12, 2008 at 4:43 PM PST

Oh, mercy. This looks heavenly.

22. by macaronibirds on Dec 12, 2008 at 5:44 PM PST

Yum.. i’m going to try this :)

23. by lisalmg25 on Dec 12, 2008 at 6:10 PM PST

Looks delicious and the sea salt is such a neat touch!

24. by drala625 on Dec 12, 2008 at 6:13 PM PST

I have seen a lot of candies using se salt lately. I will have to give this a try.

25. by dianesprous on Dec 12, 2008 at 7:03 PM PST

I’ve made peanut brittle, but this looks better.

26. by laikarose on Dec 12, 2008 at 7:26 PM PST

Sounds lovely.

27. by bettycd on Dec 12, 2008 at 8:30 PM PST

I’ve always loved toffee

28. by Teacher A on Dec 12, 2008 at 9:29 PM PST

When I first saw the page, I thought it said tofu brittle.

29. by Darlene936 on Dec 13, 2008 at 3:50 AM PST

Now the sea salt is a new twist for me. I’m going to try it.

30. by sarash on Dec 13, 2008 at 5:20 AM PST

I made toffee every Christmas for years. Once in a great while the butter would separate out, I always wondered what causes that.

31. by AsTheNight on Dec 13, 2008 at 10:25 AM PST

Well, you make it seem pretty simple, so maybe I’ll give it a try.

32. by ivy on Dec 13, 2008 at 11:33 AM PST

This recipe looks pretty easy. I never made any type of Toffee Brittle. I think I will try this very soon. Looks good and plus chocolate is one of my favorite ingredients.

33. by mickey on Dec 13, 2008 at 12:31 PM PST
Rating: four

This looks divine- I plan to try it with almonds.

34. by Cynthya on Dec 13, 2008 at 5:45 PM PST

I’d love to make this. The sea salt is a great idea. I’d use pecans, I think, or maybe almonds.

35. by java on Dec 13, 2008 at 7:19 PM PST

sweet & salty - I will be adding this to this year’s Holiday tins!

36. by That's nuts! on Dec 14, 2008 at 9:23 AM PST

wow-- those look decadent and oh-so-good

37. by Sarah on Dec 14, 2008 at 6:16 PM PST

Sure this isn’t twice the amount of butter that the recipe should call for? When I poured it out, there was a pool of butter around and on top--seemed like too much to make a solution with the sugar.

38. by Ron on Dec 15, 2008 at 12:05 AM PST

I tried this recipe and something went wrong with my caramel. I even used a candy therm. & when I pulled it at 300 it looked more like mush than caramel. The butter was separated & the sugar looked kinda blonde. Any thoughts? I was using an induction burner. Could that have made a difference.

39. by Darlene936 on Dec 15, 2008 at 4:01 AM PST

Now you promise I won’t gain weight, right? Yum!

40. by Eric on Dec 15, 2008 at 6:35 AM PST

So far every one of the sweet 16 holiday treat recipes have looked wonderful, but this one is my favorite so looks sooooo good!

41. by Caroline Cummins on Dec 15, 2008 at 8:11 AM PST

sarahsh, Sarah, Ron: I’m no candy-making expert, and while “the separation problem” seems to be very common in toffee making (check out these tips and these), even the experts beg to differ on what makes the butter separate from the sugar. Try stirring the butter and sugar together over low heat slowly until they seem thoroughly mixed, then finish cooking (stirring frequently but not frantically) over medium heat. Some folks think the addition of the 1/4 tsp. salt helps prevent toffee separation, too. Good luck!

42. by ennsee on Dec 15, 2008 at 10:53 AM PST

Thanks for the terrific recipe. This one’s going in my collection.

43. by weth on Dec 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM PST

What a wonderful version of this recipe! I think I’ll use hazelnuts...

44. by scavalie on Dec 15, 2008 at 1:13 PM PST

So I have ALWAYS been intimidated by candy-making. Maybe it was because I didn’t have the thermometer. So yesterday, a friend who is also a serious hobby baker and I baked 500 biscotti and decided to try this recipe--and it was the easiest thing we made all day. We looked at each other dumbfounded and thought, why have we always felt intimidated by candy? It takes less than an hour, start to finish, and requires less attention than any Christmas cookie I’ve ever made. See for yourself!

45. by Sarah on Dec 15, 2008 at 9:56 PM PST

Caroline, it does sound like both Ron and I experienced the dreaded separation. In my case, I think it was the result of stirring too vigorously and having the heat too high--it did come to 300 degrees much faster than the recipe called for. Thanks for posting those tips; I’ll give it another go this next weekend--still time to give it as a Christmas gift!

46. by Tricia on Dec 18, 2008 at 8:36 PM PST
Rating: five

Just made this tonight, and it is fabulous. Fabulous!

47. by elleystar on Dec 19, 2008 at 7:29 PM PST

I just attempted to make this, and was sure to read the comments beforehand. I was very careful with the heat and stirring but the butter still separated out. Really disappointed and afraid to try again and ruin another pound of butter.

48. by terriodea on Dec 30, 2008 at 7:22 AM PST
Rating: five

This stuff is heavenly. I made a batch and it makes so much. I had plenty to give to about 5 different people and save a bunch for us. Next time I make it, I’m not going to be such a ninny about sprinkling on the coarse salt at the end- I was too skimpy with it.

49. by Cyndiok on Nov 9, 2009 at 2:13 PM PST

The recipe looks amazing. I am wondering though about the fact that some old fashioned toffee recipes call for baking soda to be put in at the end with vanilla, but I notice that your recipe does not contain either. Is there a reason?

50. by Katy on Nov 23, 2009 at 4:00 AM PST

I made this toffee for the first time for a cookie exchange last year. EVERYONE WENT CRAZY!!! I was forced to promise to make it again this year...a great goodie!!!

51. by vrinda bhalla on Nov 29, 2009 at 8:16 PM PST


I tried your Toffee brittle recipe (which was a GREAT hit) however in the last 5 minutes a liquid separated from the rest of the mixture....what do you think it was ?
I went on to use the end product but what was that ? ever happened to you ?
I’m just curious........
thanks and a great blog !!!!!!!!!!!!!

52. by julie cahusac on Dec 2, 2009 at 1:30 PM PST

can you please tell me what size should the heavy rimmed baking sheet be for the toffee recipe?

53. by Kim on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:07 PM PST

Julie, a standard baking sheet — 11 by 17 inches — should do it. Good luck!

54. by cheryllk on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:16 PM PST

My experience with similar recipes suggests: stir constantly but not frantically, and expect it to separate. Don’t panic, don’t stop. Keep stirring and it will regroup and be smooth as can be. Also, I would let this set up at room temp. By putting it in the fridge or the freezer you risk whitening the chocolate which affects taste not at all but appearance a lot.

55. by jeanne_marie on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM PST

Tried to make this recipe and much like Kim Carlson’s post today, I also got a mushy buttery stuff. What am I doing wrong? I also don’t want to waste another pound of butter, but I love toffee too!

56. by Tracey Downey on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:32 PM PST

For anyone having problems with this recipe...

Use salted instead of unsalted butter. Do not remove the salt that is called for in the recipe. You should have fool proof results. There is a chemical reaction that occurs with the salted butter that helps with the emulsification. Salted butter will solve your problems.

57. by anonymous on Dec 19, 2009 at 9:55 PM PST

I made 3 batches...each time following different techniques as in comments and articles linked...always seperating. Never got it to “regroup”.Oh Well...

58. by RainandSnow on Dec 22, 2009 at 1:25 PM PST

Also experienced the separation problem, will try salted butter next time. I stored whatever was salvageable in the freezer to use as ice cream topping in the future!

59. by anonymous on Dec 24, 2009 at 8:43 AM PST

I have been making toffee like this for 42 years except my recipe uses 2.5 cups of sugar. Use salted butter because salted butter has more water than unsalted. You should use a heavy aluminum bottomed pot. Stir hard to mix the butter and sugar. When it begins to boil at the edges cover with a tight lid for about 5 min. Uncover and cook until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees. I don’t stir after uncovering. Proceed with the rest of the recipe. With my pot and burner on medium high it takes about 5 minutes to mix, 5 minutes covered, and 5 minutes to come to 300. I use parchment paper instead of buttering the pans. If the candy separates you can add a couple of tablespoons of water and reheat to try to bring the butter and sugar together.

60. by anonymous on Feb 6, 2010 at 7:20 PM PST

I make toffe all the time. A couple of hints I use - put the nuts in with the butter and sugar. They will get toasted as the sugar/butter cook.

Also, I usually don’t have any trouble cleaning my utensils/pans as long as they soak in hot water.

Third, I’ve never buttered my pan first. there is enough butter in the mixture to make it crack and come off the pan with no trouble.

61. by Kathode on Dec 4, 2010 at 9:33 AM PST

I love this recipe and made a few batches last year. Without a candy thermometer, I sometimes undercook the toffee so the sugar is still granular when I pour it into the pan. It was the correct golden color and seemed well mixed (the mixture pulled away from the side of the saucepan), but then it just wasn’t very hot and the chocolate chips didn’t melt. I have it in the oven now, just trying to get the chocolate to melt so I can spread it and let it cool.

62. by Silvi on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM PST

After I make toffee, to clean the pot I just put some water in it, put a lid on and put it back on the heat. The boiling water and steam melt the candy off the sides of the pot and make cleaning much easier. All that’s left to do after pouring out the water is to scrape any burnt bits off the bottom of the pot.

63. by Koama on Dec 30, 2011 at 5:27 AM PST

<b>Don’t Throw That Mess Away!</b>

What you can do if your batch fails. Make them into <b>Chocolate Almond Cookies.</b>

I’ve made a lot of batches, usually with success.

I recently tried to make a double bactch in a larger pot. I doubled the butter to 1 lb. and added 3 cups of sugar. In lieu of my usual corn syrup, I used a little maple syrup because it was leftover from breakfast.

The larger size required a larger pot. The batch went very granular on solidifying. The toffee base was very white in color. It was hard (not chewy) but definitely granular and definitely not toffee. It already had the chocolate and nuts on it. I decided to make use of all this good stuff and make cookies.

It required a little experimentation, making some dough and baking 1 cookie, adjusting, and baking more.

Here’s the general recipe.

Take the failed batch and put it into the food processor, grind it up into a paste. This becomes your sugar/flavorings and more than half the butter for your cookies.

In the standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream a small amount of unsalted, room temperature butter (half to 3/4 stick) until fluffy. Add in your paste a little at a time until incorporated. Add 1 egg and a little vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together about 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixer a little at a time, till mixed.

Toast some almonds, cool, and grind them up well in food processor with a little sea salt (to taste).

With a spoon, take some of the cool dough and roll into ball about 1 T to 1.5 T in size. Roll ball of dough in ground nuts. Place on parchment or silpat on cookie sheet and press down to flatten to about 3/4 inch thick.

Bake at 375 F for about 12-15 mins, rotating pan halfway through, until cookie is medium-browned around edges.

Cool on sheet on cooling rack for 2-4 mins to set and then carefully remove cookies to rack to cool further.

Experiment with more or less flour or butter to get the right consistency.

I started with just a portion of my aborted batch of toffee so that I could tweak it as I went along. Good Luck.

64. by anonymous on Dec 16, 2013 at 8:01 AM PST

I used to make this all the time, Joy of Cooking Nut Crunch and one year it started separating on me, too. What I found after a LOT of experimentation is the quality of the pan is very important -- I had changed from cast-iron-enamel to a cheaper saucepan and that made the difference because it wasn’t holding the heat evenly. Now I use a copper-bottom type pan and have to keep the heat a little lower to prevent burning. Sometimes stirring hurts it too because it can incorporate crystals from the side of the pan. I have also found the less butter in the recipe, the less likely to separate, but also the faster it gets to the high temp.

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