Churro Toffee. If you know, you know. It even has it’s own following on Instagram! If you love the classic flavours of a churro and you like toffee, this treat is a must try for you! I’ve made my version of this delicious treat, perfect for those “in between park trips” cravings. Enjoy!
What You’ll Need:
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 2 cups refined sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 9 oz (30 grams) white chocolate
- 3/4 cups refined sugar
- 3-4 tbsp cinnamon
When I set out to make this recipe, I didn’t think twice about it. Turns out, making toffee is actually extremely finicky and my first batch was a complete flop. After a LOT of research, and reading forums on flopped toffee, I found a couple of easy tips that made all the difference. Now of course I didn’t have to tell you guys that, but I think we learn so much from our mistakes and if I can help someone else in the process… even better. First I will give you the proper method (the successful one) and at the bottom I have a troubleshooting section with all the things I learned.
The first thing I did was to take a paper towel and lightly coat the entire pot with vegetable oil. This was a fantastic tip that I learned from Alton Brown to keep the sugar from forming crystals on the side of your pot. Then prep your pan so that it’s ready to pour the hot caramel into ahead of time. I used a 12 x 16 sheet pan and lined it with parchment paper.
Next I put the butter into the pot and started melting it on low heat. As the butter was melting I slowly incorporated the sugar little by little, stirring to make sure it was dissolving as I added it. When the butter and sugar was all dissolved I added the salt and vanilla to the mix and slightly turned up the heat to medium low. You never want to change the heat too drastically when making caramels and toffee (more about that later).
Once the mixture came to a slow boil I covered the pot with a lid, another Alton Brown tip. The lid creates condensation which runs down the side of the pot and keeps that sugar from crystallizing. Set your timer for 3 minutes, once the timer is up you can insert your candy thermometer into the pot. It is very important to use a candy thermometer so that you get the mixture to the right consistency. You want your candy just over a soft crack (as opposed to a hard crack). Another tip I learned from a professional candy maker is to not stir the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit, and then frequently stir until it reaches 295 degrees.
Waiting for the candy to come to temperature requires a lot of patience. It felt like it was taking forever and I was so tempted to turn up the heat, but after my first attempt failed, I wasn’t about to mess around. Don’t try and speed up the process, just keep your eye on it. Once it reaches 240 degrees it does seem to go a little faster. The mixture will start developing a beautiful caramel colour and you will see a foam on top. This is good. Be patient and consistently stir the caramel. When it reaches 295 degrees remove it from the heat and pour it into your prepared sheet pan. Be careful! The caramel is very hot and splashing it could result in a very bad burn.
At this point you can either cut it into squares just like they serve it in the parks or you could let it set up in the sheet pan and break it into shards. To get those perfect squares like the parks, let the caramel set up for a couple of minutes and then use a plastic knife to outline the squares. I did this too soon which made the squares kind of misshaped. Go over the lines multiple times until they stay separate. I transferred the toffee to a bigger sheet pan so I could completely separate them. Let them completely cool either in the fridge or on the counter (about 20-30 min).
Now it’s time for that yummy coating! Using a double boiler, melt your white chocolate. The Ghirardelli melting wafers are great for this, but I used a mix of white chocolate chips and Baker’s white chocolate because I already had it. You can choose your preference. If you have never done the double boiler method, all you have to do is put a couple of inches of water in a sauce pan and bring it to a rolling boil. Put a metal or glass bowl over top and put your white chocolate in it. This helps to melt your white chocolate nice and smooth so that it doesn’t seize (turn into a hard clump). I worked in small batches with the chocolate, since you remove it from the heat while you are coating the toffee.
There are a couple of methods for coating the toffee with the chocolate. You can either dunk the whole thing or you can use a spoon or a knife to spread the white chocolate all over. Try and take off any drips and then put it right into a shallow bowl or plate with your cinnamon sugar mixture. Use a spoon to sprinkle the sugar on top and then move it to the parchment to set. Now comes the hardest part, resist eating them all and put them into the fridge to set. These keep well in the fridge or freezer, just store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Enjoy!
As I mentioned off the top, my first batch failed. Making caramel and toffee can be tricky and here are some of the most common reasons that it fails.
The fat separated from the caramel and no matter what I did it wouldn’t come back together. I read online to add boiling hot water, 1 tbsp at a time, up to a 1/4 cup and the fat should reincorporate. That didn’t work for mine, but I’m putting the idea here in case it works for you. I ended up pouring out the fat that was on top and poured the caramel into a lined dish. It didn’t have the right texture or colour, but it’s edible and I don’t like to waste food. So into the freezer that goes (would make a delicious ice cream topping!).
Tips and Tricks:
Let’s start at the beginning with my pot. I’ve been married coming up 15 years and so the pot is that old. You want a heavy bottom pot with good heat distribution so that there aren’t any “hot spots”. Alton Brown teaches me so much, he suggested using a cast iron skillet under my pot as a heat diffuser. If you don’t trust your pot, this is a great way to go. I think that made a difference for my second batch. I did have to increase my heat a little bit, but I recommend this highly if you are at all worried.
The second important factor was making sure the sugar fully dissolves into the butter before bringing it to a boil. The first time I had the cold butter and all of the sugar in the pot from the start. The sugar didn’t properly dissolve before the mixture boiled and I think that’s where the fat started to separate. On one of the forums I read, someone mentioned slowly adding the sugar and allowing it to dissolve little by little and I found that to be effective.
Making toffee takes patience. At some points it felt like nothing was happening and the temperature was hovering at the same place for several minutes. So tempting to turn it up, but don’t touch that dial! SLOW and even heat makes for the best caramel, allowing it to develop that rich colour and flavor. If the temperature changes too quickly it can cause the mixture to split.
I was working on a gas range and had my pot on the smallest burner to help control the heat, but we have been noticing that particular burner is erratic. I could hear the gas flow changing as I was cooking. Using the cast iron heat diffuser and moving to the medium burner definitely helped me. Remember, each stove top is unique.
Another common problem when making caramel is sugar crystals. This can happen on the sides of the pot and inside the caramel itself. It results in a grainy texture, which is not what you are going for at all.
There are a couple of ways to prevent this from occurring. First, use a pastry brush or paper towel to lightly coat your pan with vegetable oil. This prevents crystals from sticking. If you still notice them forming on the edges you can take a pastry brush with water and go over the sides.
The second thing is to cover your pot with a tight lid once the mixture comes to a boil as this creates condensation which stops the crystals from forming and taking over your caramel. The last thing, which I read in multiple places, was to use a wooden spoon, not plastic or metal, because it doesn’t conduct heat. I’m not sure how important this is, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
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Have a magical day!