Apparently the average American gains ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.
This bourbon pecan toffee bark will be responsible for 9 of my 10 pounds, I am sure of it.
I was reading my current favorite cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook, and staring at the recipe for chocolate toffee bark while drinking an aged Canadian rye whiskey that tastes much like the world’s most grown up caramel.
“The only thing that would make this recipe better would be if you could substitute the water for bourbon,” I thought to myself.
As it turns out, you can.
Bourbon Toffee Bark Step-by-Step
You really want to have everything prepared before you start. When the toffee is ready, it’s not gonna wait for you to get your pan out. So have a pan ready. Line it smoothly with foil and grease.
Heat the bourbon and butter together in a generously sized, heavy saucepan. The toffee will bubble up a lot as it cooks, and you do not want it to boil over. (Ask me how I know, and how long it takes to scrub burned toffee off your stove.)
Add the sugar and salt into the middle of the pan – make a little sugar mountain that does not touch the sides of the pan to prevent the dreaded sugar crystallization issue.
Smoosh the sugar down into the simmering bourbon but do not stir. Keep those sugar crystals off the sides of the pan.
Cook without stirring until the toffee is a light caramel color, then watch carefully, swirling the toffee in the pan as needed.
At 325-degrees F the toffee will be a rich, amber color. (Note: I am at basically sea level at my house. The temperature at which your toffee will hit the proper sugar concentration will vary by altitude. If you are making this at higher altitude, your “finished” temp will be lower. You want a dark golden-amber color and a heavy caramel – but not burnt – scent.)
Get it off the heat right away and stir in one-third of the pecans.
Scrape toffee out into prepared pan and chill until firm.
Melt chocolate and coat the first side with half the chocolate. Sprinkle melted chocolate with another third of the pecans and let set up.
Flip toffee over by placing a piece of greased foil or parchment paper over the chocolate coated side and carefully flipping everything over.
Peel off the layer of foil to reveal the second side of the toffee. Coat this with the remaining chocolate and sprinkle with the remaining pecans.
Chill toffee uncovered until fully firm and set, about 15 minutes. Break toffee into hunks with your clean hands, and
eat it all like a freaking glutton store in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks.
Makes an excellent homemade holiday gift.
Printable Bourbon Pecan Toffee Bark Recipe
Bourbon Pecan Toffee Bark
Delicious holiday toffee bark with pecans, chocolate and bourbon. Recipe lightly adapted from the America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook.
- 4 oz. (8 tablespoons) butter
- 1/2 cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) pecans, chopped fine and divided into 3, 1/2 cup portions.
- 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chips or chopped bars
- Have everything ready before you start. Toffee waits for no one.
- Line a 9x13 pan smoothly with foil; use enough foil so that foil runs up the edges of the pans and makes handles. Grease the foil with vegetable oil or butter.
- Heat the butter and bourbon in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.
- Pour the sugar and salt into the center of the saucepan like a little mountain. Gently push the sugar down into the bourbon mixture but don't get any sugar on the edges of the pan.
- Cook sugar without stirring until it's a light golden color and measures 300-degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
- At this point sugar will darken quickly, so reduce heat to medium, watch carefully and swirl pan to ensure toffee cooks evenly. When toffee is medium-amber in color and measured 325-degrees F, pull it off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
- Immediately pour toffee into foil-lined, prepared pan and smooth. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.
Chocolate Coat The Toffee
- Melt chocolate in the microwave at 50% power, stirring frequently, or in a double boiler set over simmering water.
- Pour half of the chocolate over the hard toffee, smoothing with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans over chocolate and gently pat down. Pop the toffee back into the fridge for 5 minutes or so, just to set.
- Place a piece of parchment or greased foil over the chocolate-coated toffee and carefully invert the toffee onto a sheetpan or cutting board.
- Peel away the bottom layer of foil to reveal the uncoated side of the toffee.
- Warm remaining chocolate if necessary and spread over the second side of the toffee. Sprinkle with the final 1/2 cup pecans and pat down. Return toffee to the fridge, unwrapped, until fully set, about 15 minutes.
- Break (don't cut) the toffee into generous pieces. Store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for a week or two.
(The Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made through these links cost you nothing extra but allow me to continue to shoehorn whiskey into as many recipes as possible. Full financial disclosure here. Thanks for your support, guys, I would totally share my toffee bark with you.)
America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook. You may remember this book from the Giant DIY Bacon Tutorial. I am slowly making every recipe in this book. It’s the perfect gift for nerdy DIY enthusiasts. Highly recommended.
Williams-Sonoma Handcrafted Toffee. One pound for $24. This isn’t an affiliate link or anything – I just wanted to make it easy for you to do a store-bought vs. DIY price comparison. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 pounds. So, in Williams-Sonoma dollars, this is about $36 worth of toffee. I figure ingredients for this recipe were about $10.23
Nicole S. says
Going to try with coconut oil in place of the butter, I will let you know if it works. If not, I will make with butter and just deal with the pain……lol
Please let me know, that would be a very interesting substitution.
Erin in AK says
Nicole S. I would like to know how it goes with coconut oil as well. I can’t do the dairy, but really want to try this yumminess!
Nicole S. says
The coconut oil in place of the butter did not really work. Upon scraping it into the pan after it was caramelized, it began to separate and when it was chilled, there was solid coconut oil all around the edges and swirled throughout. It is still tasty, but not at all suitable for gifting or sharing. Oh, well, we get to eat it all ourselves. As a former pastry chef, I am not surprised it didn’t work, just disappointed. Making now with butter! Thank you for a delicious recipe!
Thank you for the report. I was just about to try coconut oil on a half-recipe (and probably still will for comparison, because I have to learn everything for myself!) I made the original and even had some butter separation with that, perhaps because the butter was frozen right before it went into the pan? The toffee was so easy and so good. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks, Erica.
Thanks for reporting back!
Nice recipe. But can you really sub the water for bourbon? I didn’t notice
OMG! What an incredible sounding recipe! My very favorite toffee up to this point was Enstrom’s. If you have not heard of it, they are a fairly small, fairly local (but mail-orderable) candy maker in Colorado. I have not tried the Williams Sonoma one so this is not a comparison to that. Enstrom’s toffee used to be delivered to the offices where I worked every year and I simply could not get enough of it. I rejoiced when Enstrom’s started making their toffee with dark chocolate (my far and away favorite over milk), but sadly, I don’t think the dark is as good as the original almost-milk chocolate, which makes this the only single place where I prefer anything other than dark bittersweet chocolate. Looking over this recipe, I cannot imagine anything being better than BOURBON, pecan toffee and I will have to give it a go to make it… probably not this year, we have a family medical emergency going on, but as soon as possible. If you’d like to try the Enstrom, almond btw toffee, it’s just enstrom.com. If anyone has an opinion about Enstrom’s vs Williams Sonoma, I’d love to hear it. Thanks for this great recipe.
I’m going to have to show this to my husband! He would have fun making this. Thanks for sharing!
Would love to hear if the coconut oil idea works too!!
I’m going to forego the aluminum foil and just use greased parchment paper. Should still not stick, right? I’m thinking of the coconut oil sub too. Hope someone comments about trying it soon.
Parchment should be fine instead of foil. I’d still grease it.
Great, thanks. It’s so much more biodegradable. I rarely use aluminum foil anymore.
nancy sutton says
Wow, this book looks fantastic! Just requested from library (never buy a book I haven’t already ‘read’ 😉 and, in checking the reviews on Amazon, I see that these DIY (and many more) America’s Test Kitchen recipes are available for… free!!… with a free sign up at their ‘feed’ website (unlike many Cook’s Illustrated recipes). What a great website… http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com…now to check out that bacon.
This Little Blue Homestead says
Um-yum! Must get bourbon!!
I have the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. As in, that is the only cookbook I have, the only one I use, and the only thing my ex gave me that I held onto (give up my cookbook? are you kidding me?!?). It’s brilliant and I love it.
The recipe looks mouthwateringly divine, and your step-by-step pictures make it look foolproof. Thanks for posting it.
I would like to make this for family, but was just wondering is it chewy toffee or brittle?
Thanks! It’s brittle – think Almond Roca texture.
Thanks Erica. Toffee in UK means chewy and tends to pull out any fillings 😉
Out of curiosity, which whiskey were you drinking?
Also: Think it would work with sortilege? (Er… maple whiskey, fyi). ‘Cause I think that could be awesome. 😀
Pendleton’s 1910 12 year Canadian Rye. I am in love.
This was really awesome. I think. I have this thing where I can’t follow a recipe without changing a few things so I had to make a couple tweaks, which I thought I’d pass along. I ditched the pecans because one of my guests is allergic to nuts (otherwise I’d have left them), swapped 2 of the 4oz of butter for bacon grease and chopped up 2 crispy slices of bacon, which i used just like you used the pecans. Result: Bacon Bourbon Toffee Bark. Anyway, thanks for sharing, this one looks to be *the* bark recipe for future holidays.
You added bacon? I bow to you, sir. You just won the internets.
Ha! Well, I thought I was all done with my add-bacon-to-everything phase, but then, alliteration, I never turn down a chance at alliteration.
You are awesome.
New Favorite Holiday recipe! Phenomenal! Thanks for posting
Help! I made this twice. The first time I did the bacon version and subbed 2 T bacon grease for 2 T butter. It separated before reaching 325. Tossed it. Second time I didn’t sub bacon grease and got it to temp but it still separated and didn’t even cover the bottom of my 9×12″ pan when poured. Any ideas? I really want this to work.
I’m so sorry this is giving you trouble. I haven’t had any of my batches separate, but I found this and it lists some common reasons why toffees can separate: http://candy.about.com/od/carameltoffee/f/separate_faq.htm. I hope this helps!
Mine separated slightly and I thought it was because the butter was frozen before putting in the pan. Since temp and humidity can be culprits that was probably it, as well as living in a high (cool coastal) humidity place anyway. What I did was pour the bit of separated liquid off the toffee before hardening in the fridge. It was wonderful all the same and after “barking” it with chocolate and nuts it made great gifts and tasted wonderful. Hope you can make it work Erin.
AMAZING! We had lots of family over for the holidays and they couldn’t stop eating it. I will definitely be making this again next year.
Debbie Farnam says
This was incredible! I LOVE toffee and have a recipe I’ve been doing for several years but this one surpasses it. Next year I will have to double the recipe so I have more for myself. (And my husband I guess – he complained very loudly over his pittance given to him)
My family LOVED this last year so I just made another batch for a Secret Santa gift. I forgot that my husband had put our instant-read candy thermometer in the dishwasher so had to fly without temperature readings. I wimped out and too it off the heat too early and it didn’t set up after an hour in the fridge, at all… But I was bold: I put the toffee and pecans back in the pot and started over, stirring pretty constantly, until it got really golden and thicker, and it worked, set up just fine. Thought I’d share for anyone out there winging it!
Learned something new this year because of this recipe. I had one batch turn out perfect as always, which naturally disappeared quickly. So, made a second, but it turned to a crystallized sugary mess. Turns out, do not make toffee on a rainy day, or a warm rainy day anyway.
Was good, but didn’t fill the pan and couldn’t really taste the bourbon