Sugar and spice makes everything nice… but chocolate makes everything marvelous (or as my mom would say, “maaaaaaaahvelous dahling”).
When I was little, my mother taught me that the best chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from the back of the Nestle bag, tea time must include a raspberry jam and chocolate chip sandwich, and your holiday baking should include no less than three chocolate-centric recipes. My mother was as fierce at baking as she was at loving every single person she ever met; and chocolate was her true love. In the early summer our kitchen became clothed in the scent of strawberries, and the air became sweet and fragrant as she cooked batch after batch of her homemade jam. Arriving home after school in my early years was filled with sensations of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies resting on their cooling racks as I eyed them greedily. And every year I would yearn for the end holiday months where I’d help her roll out chocolate coated coconut bonbons, stack the candied cherries on mini cheesecakes, and eat sheets of luxurious chocolate-coated pecan toffee, having no regret for the tummy ache that would soon ensue. In short: every year I yearned for toffee.
Recently I was rifling through files and came across the collection of my mother’s recipes that she left me, shocked to see her renowned toffee recipe included. As I read it over I could taste the depth of the molasses flavor, feel the chocolate melt on my tongue, and came alive with the snap sensation of the pecan pieces. It only made sense to honor her, and my craving, with a vegan version that rivaled that couldn’t-put-it-down deliciousness of the toffee my mother had once created.
What I found in my vegan transformation attempts was that vegan toffee is very sensitive to sugar and butter replacements. While baking is a science, vegan test baking is more like quantum mechanics–in my opinion. Because of this, I have made all of the mistakes so that I can guide you in the easiest streamlined experience that will get crave-worthy, mouth-watering, put-your-hands-in-mitts-so-you-stop-eating-it toffee, that will ‘wow’ your family, on the table–STAT! It was also my goal to uphold the integrity of my mother’s recipe and traditional English toffee in general. For this reason you will see coconut palm sugar which is BY FAR the best vegan sugar for creating the dark, in-depth caramel that’s desired with a traditional toffee. I purchased mine at my local Albertson’s grocery store–it was not at all hard to find. And for someone who had never used it before, I’m now IN LOVE!
From my family to yours, I hope you enjoy this maaaaaaaahvelous toffee recipe! 😉
Vegan Classic English Toffee
- 1/2 cup (+ a little extra for coating) margarine (or vegan butter–see notes below)
- 1 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 3/4 cup (vegan) semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1. Using a paper towel, grease an 8 in. x 8 in. square glass pan or foil pan with margarine or vegan butter of your choice and set aside. I don’t have a glass pan, so I get a disposable foil pan from the grocery store. Tip: Country Crock brand of margarine works the best. I recommend using a spreadable tub of margarine and avoiding margarines that are labeled as “extra buttery, buttery flavor, etc,” or are coconut-oil based, as they tend to make your toffee taste heavily of chemicals and salt.
2. Use a nut chopper to finely chop the pecans OR you can DIY a nut chopper by placing the pecans in a plastic bag, sealing it, and using a hard object to pound the pecans into fine pieces. I used a heavy metal spoon (see below).
Once all of the nuts are the same, small eraser-size consistency, coat the bottom of the greased pan in an even layer.
3. Measure out your chocolate chips and set aside so they’re easily accessible. You’ll also want an object that can cover the pan that is larger than it – a cookie sheet or piece of foil works best!
4. In a sauce pan on medium heat, bring the ½ cup of margarine and the coconut palm sugar to a boil, stirring vigorously. Immediately when it starts to boil time 7 minutes and keep stirring consistently. At the end of 7 minutes, it will start to have a fluffy, marshmallow consistency, and it’s time now to work fast!
Tip: If you’re not sure if it’s ready, give it the ice test. In a bowl, place several ice cubes. Spoon a bit of the toffee mixture onto the ice. If it’s ready it will instantly hold a shape. If it’s not ready it will run.
At that point remove it from the flame and pour it evenly over your layer of pecans, using a knife or spoon to delicately create a consistent layer.
5. After quickly making an even layer, dump the chocolate chips over the toffee and then cover with a cookie sheet or piece of foil to create heat that will melt the chips. Leave for 1 minute.
6. Remove the cookie sheet or foil and use another knife or utensil to spread the chocolate as your top foundation. When you remove the object you have covering the toffee the chips will still look solid – do not worry! Once you move them around you’ll see that they’ve melted and it will create that luxurious chocolate top.
7. Let cool on the counter for a few minutes – we don’t want to put a hot pan in the fridge as hot food in a cold environment can breed germs. Let it rest! After about 5 minutes cover the pan in cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to let it set.
8. When toffee is set – use a knife to break apart and store in the fridge! Simple, delicious, and a TOTAL crowd pleaser!
Also by Missy: Copycat Panera Superfood Salad
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Photos: Missy Ruttencutter