Recipes for Life

Cook. Eat well. Be happy.

Grandma's Toffee

This rich, buttery toffee resembles a Heath bar, but better!

It is even great without chocolate. And when crushed into tiny pieces, it can be used to make butter brickle ice cream.

And it has a fun story.

One of my favorite things to do every Christmas is call Grandma Lois and ask her for instructions to make her famous toffee. 

In my cookbook, I have a small lined notecard inscribed in my rather squiggly elementary school script. All it says is this:

    Put it all together. 

When I was younger, I relied on very scripted instructions, and this lack of verbal guidance truly frightened me. I called because I really needed her help. 

Over time, I have made additional notes to my recipe as she elaborated on her instructions each year. 

One says:

    Stir until the oil goes back in.

Another says:

    Put on an un-greased cookie sheet and add thin chocolate bars + space evenly.

As the years passed, I called because it was a fun ritual. Holiday baking gave me an excuse to call at Christmas every year and chat with Grandma while I stirred the toffee.

“Hey, Grandma. I am making toffee.” 

“Oh, it’s easy,” she’d reply. “You just put it all together.”

Prep time:

3 minutes, plus time to cool

Cook time:

As long as it takes for the oil to go back in!




Step 1. Put it all together

Over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and butter together in a large, heavy bottomed pan.


Step 2. Stir

With a wooden spoon, stir. And stir. And stir. 

If it is splattering, threatening to stick to the bottom, or over-browning — turn down the heat. 

Stir until the oil comes out. That is, the oil separates from the butterfat solids. At this point, tan, fluffy-looking, swirly bits are distinct from the obviously yellow oil. Don’t splash!

And then, keep stirring until the oil goes back in and it is uniform in texture again. At this point, it will turn a beautiful golden brown color (which will darken as it cools). 


Step 3. Finish the toffee

Immediately, remove the pan from the heat and pour onto a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with sides. 

Let cool slightly, just until pieces of chocolate placed on top no longer make a deep indentation.

Place chocolate pieces evenly across the surface. When melted, swirl to coat the surface of the toffee evenly.

Continue to cool until the chocolate hardens.

With a butter knife, fracture the toffee into pieces.



Place toffee pieces into a ziplock bag or other storage container. Store in a cool place or tuck some in the fridge and/or freezer for later.