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Toffee is a sweet that is made by heating butter and sugar together to a temperature known as the hard crack stage and then pouring the mixture into molds and allowing it to cool. The resulting candy is hard with a faint chewiness as it warms up; some versions have added ingredients which make them even chewier. Toffee is a popular candy in many regions of the world, especially those with a large British population, and there are a number of variations on the basic recipe, which resembles butterscotch, caramel, and other candies made in a similar style.
A common variation on toffee is made with added nuts or dried fruit for additional flavor and texture. It can also be cooled with a layer of melted chocolate for additional flavor; this trend is popular with some English styles. The basic recipe is extremely simple, and it can easily be made at home. For people who don't feel up to making candy, toffee can be purchased in many markets and candy stores.
To make toffee, a cook will need a large heavy saucepan, a candy thermometer, a silicone spatula, and a mold to cool the candy in. Silicone candy molds are ideal, because they will not warp from the heat of the toffee; if the cook wants to make a thin slab, he or she can just use a silicone baking mat to cool it. Butter, sugar or molasses, water, vanilla, and salt will also be required, as will chocolate or nuts, if they will be added.
Cooks should measure out 1 cup (225 g) of sugar and 1 cup (225 g) of butter into the saucepan, along with 2 teaspoons (9.8 ml) of water and 1/8 teaspoon (0.4 g) of salt. Brown sugar can be used for a more rich, complex flavor, or white sugar for simplicity; molasses can also also be used for an especially intense flavor. These ingredients should be cooked over low heat, which will encourage blending without separation, until they reach the hard crack stage, between 300°F (150°C) and 320°F (160°C).
The toffee should be stirred as it is heated to encourage even mixing, but cooks should watch out, because the mixture will be very hot. Once it reaches the hard crack stage, 1 teaspoon (4.9 ml) of vanilla should be added; nuts can also be added at this point, if desired. The hot mixture should then be poured into molds or out onto a baking sheet to cool. If the cook wants to add a layer of melted chocolate, it should be ready to go as the toffee approaches the finishing stage, and can be spread on top once the candy has been poured out.