Toffee is one of those ingredients that gets a lot of attention around the holidays, but it's actually a pretty common part of a lot of candies like Heath bars and other treats like ice cream and sticky toffee pudding the rest of the year, too. But what is toffee, exactly, and why is it so delectable? And what makes the confection different from butterscotch or caramel?
What is Toffee?
Toffee is a sweet treat primarily made by caramelizing sugar or molasses with butter, which is probably why it tastes so good. It is heated until its temperature reaches the hard crack stage of 300 to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. It breaks easily and has an iconic crunch to it, according to Spoon University. It is not as soft and chewy as its counterpart, caramel.
Likely the most popular version of toffee is English toffee, which is a buttery toffee usually made with almonds. Sometimes, semi-sweet chocolate chips are added, too.
Despite the name, this treat across the pond is not the same as the kind we enjoy in the United States, which is known over in the United Kingdom as "butter crunch." Theirs is more like taffy, such as saltwater taffy, that Americans are used to.
What is the Difference Between Toffee and Caramel?
While the two treats are similar, there are important differences between them. Caramel is made out of sugar, water, and cream or milk, and is heated to the lower temperature of 248 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the higher temperature you'd find with a candy thermometer making toffee.
Caramel can be used to make caramel sauce, but toffee is more brittle and not as suited to sauces. Plus, the two have different sugar crystals, Spoon University reported. Caramel has long sugar crystals, and the kind that make up toffee are very short.
OK, So What is Butterscotch?
Then there's butterscotch, which toffee is technically a kind of, according to the Webstaurant Store blog. Butterscotch is a soft-crack candy made by slowly heating butter and brown sugar and is chewier by comparison.
A good toffee recipe will pair well with most chocolate chip cookies, whether they're made with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or other ingredients. It's also wonderful in fudge, cheesecake, and other delicious dessert treats. Truly, the recipe possibilities are endless.