How To

Kitchen tips: How to make toffee at home

Toffee is great for desserts, whether it’s fruit or nuts dipped in toffee, shards of toffee or spun toffee over the top of a cake. Once you've mastered this recipe and technique, you'll never go back.


1. Combine a quarter cup of water for every cup of caster sugar in a heavy-based saucepan; place over medium to high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves; if any sugar grains stick to the sides of the pan, brush them down with a pastry brush that has been dipped in water. To prevent crystallisation or graininess, the sugar must be completely dissolved before the mixture boils.

2. Once the sugar syrup comes to the boil, stop stirring.

3. Boil the syrup, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until the mixture is a golden-brown colour. The longer you cook the toffee the deeper the colour and the harder it will set.

Hard crack

The state described as “hard crack”, when the toffee sets pretty much instantly, is achieved between 138°C and 154°C on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, you can drizzle some of the hot toffee mixture into a container of cold water. If it sets immediately and can be snapped between the fingers, the mixture is at “hard crack”; if not, it should be boiled for a few minutes more.

Always remove the pan from the heat and allow the bubbles to subside before testing. Once “hard crack” is achieved, fruit or nuts can be dipped into the toffee. Stand to set on a baking-paper-lined tray.

There are different stages of setting, the first is called “small crack”, then it goes to “hard crack”, and, of course, there are stages in between. The important thing is to make sure the toffee will set enough for your needs.

toffee brittle

Try these dark chocolate and pistachio toffee brittles.

Toffee shards

Toffee shards are a brilliant way to jazz up any dessert, making it look high quality and added sweetness and texture you’ll love.

Use a wooden spoon to drizzle toffee over a baking-paper-lined tray. When the toffee sets, break it into pieces.

Spiced oranges with brown sugar toffee

Hard crack toffee shards decorate the top of this spiced orange orange dish, which makes an amazing accompaniment to a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Spun toffee

If you want to really delight your guests with a homemade dessert recipe, finish it off with a sweet, spun toffee “nest”, and just watch them swoon.

To do this: hold a fork in each hand and dip them in the hot toffee. Bring the backs of the forks together over the cake, draw them apart, dragging the toffee onto the cake. Repeat until you’ve achieved a “nest” of spun toffee on the top of the cake.

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