If there’s anything I’ve learned about using nuts in cooking, it’s to always toast them first. Though it takes a little extra time, it brings a depth of flavor to the finished product that can’t be beat. If you’re new to candy-making, toasty pecan toffee is an excellent place to start since it only requires 6 ingredients.
Start by preheating the oven to 350. Place on a baking sheet:
1 c. chopped pecans
Toast for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you can smell them (and they will smell absolutely delicious!)
Prepare an 8X8 pan by greasing it and layering the toasted nuts on the bottom. Set it aside for now.
In a medium pot, bring to a boil:
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
*Note on the butter: You don’t have to buy an expensive brand of butter, but not all off-brands are created equal. Some separate weirdly and leave a greasy film on top of the finished candy. I’ve had good luck with Great Value (Walmart) butter but NOT Kroger brand. I don’t know why, but it must have something to do with how the butter is made.
Boil the syrup, stirring occasionally, until it reaches hard crack stage (290-300 degrees). I start testing with ice cold water at the lower end of that range. Also, I use my grill thermometer with great success. I always breaks the glass candy thermometers. Whoops.
Remove from the heat and stir in:
1 t. vanilla
Pour the candy over the nuts in the greased pan. Wait 10 minutes, then spread over the top:
1 c. chocolate chips, no need to pre-melt
Cool the toffee completely before breaking it into pieces and serving. Toasty pecan toffee makes an excellent Christmas gift for the neighbors, but it’s delicious enough that you might want to keep it all to yourself.