Make chewy, buttery, and crunchy pumpkin spice toffee on the stove with only 8 ingredients. Top with a layer of sweet white chocolate and add lots of flavorful toasted pecans for an irresistible fall treat. Follow my video tutorial and guide for helpful homemade candy tips.
This is pumpkin spice toffee and you can find the recipe below and on page 109 in my cookbook, Sally’s Candy Addiction.
About Sally’s Candy Addiction
My 2nd published cookbook, Sally’s Candy Addiction cookbook, was published in 2015. This cookbook is complete with 75 photographed recipes that are exclusive to the cookbook. You will find how-to’s, tips, tricks, and recipes for everything from toffee, caramels, and fudge to truffles, chocolate bark, and marshmallows. Plus a chapter filled with cupcakes, cookies, and cakes using candy such as Snickers, M&Ms, and more. This cookbook was voted one of the best cookbooks of October 2015 on Amazon!
What is Toffee?
Have you ever eaten homemade toffee before? Like REAL homemade toffee? A simple combination of butter and sugar, toffee is your sweet tooth’s dream. Unlike hard-as-rock brittle, toffee softens and melts in your mouth. There are dozens of ways to prepare it, and one of my all-time favorites is this toffee recipe. You can even make a shortcut version like this popular saltine toffee.
Today, we’re focusing on a seasonal variation. Thick, sweet, salty, pumpkin spiced, toasted pecan filled, white chocolate covered toffee. This is my favorite recipe in the entire cookbook and if you visited me on my book tour a few years ago, you likely tasted it!
Ingredients in Pumpkin Spice Toffee
I bet you didn’t know that you only need a few ingredients and a stove to make homemade toffee. Here are the basic toffee ingredients I use and why each is imperative to the final taste and texture:
- Butter: Butter is the base of toffee. Cut it into pieces before adding to the saucepan.
- Warm water: The melted butter will be warm, so the water should be as well. Any sudden changes in temperature spells candy disaster.
- Granulated sugar: Not brown sugar, which holds too much moisture. Though brown sugar is my ideal choice in most baked goods, I never use it for toffee because the candy won’t set properly.
- Salt: Toffee is supremely salty and sweet! It’s the best.
- Light corn syrup: There’s a lot of debate over adding corn syrup to toffee, but I always use it. Corn syrup guarantees a smoother texture (no sugar crystals!) especially when cooked to a high temperature. Though other liquid sweeteners can sometimes be substituted for corn syrup, candy making is not one of those instances. Again, it’s chemistry! You only need 1 teaspoon for the recipe.
For today’s pumpkin spice toffee, we’ll also add:
- Pecans: Offer texture and a delicious nuttiness! Toast them before beginning for even more flavor, just like you toast the pecans in this pecan pie cheesecake recipe.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Gives the toffee classic fall flavor. I like to measure this from a big batch of homemade pumpkin pie spice, but if you just want to add the individual spices, you can make your own using 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
- White Chocolate: Use baking white chocolate, found in the baking aisle. I suggest Bakers, Ghirardelli, or Lindt brands. Baking chocolate is sold in 4 ounce bars, so you’ll need 1.5 bars. If desired, you could use 8 ounces and have an extra thick layer of white chocolate on top. 🙂
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Toffee
Cook the first 5 ingredients on the stove until the candy reaches 290°F (143°C), known as the Soft Crack Stage. Once it reaches 290°F (143°C), about 25 minutes (though that highly depends on your stove because on an electric stove in my old kitchen, it took 40 minutes and now on my gas cooktop– 25 minutes!), you’ll stir in the pecans and pumpkin pie spice. If you have 10 minutes before you begin, I strongly recommend toasting the pecans in the oven. After you stir them into the cooking toffee, pour it all out onto a lined baking sheet, then let it cool for about 5 minutes before topping with melted white chocolate, more toasted pecans, and pumpkin pie spice. Let it cool and break into pieces.
Such a unique treat.
5 Helpful Tools
Candy Thermometer: There’s no way to make old-fashioned toffee that (1) has a crumbly texture (2) has zero sugar graininess and (3) is literally bursting with the caramelized flavors of properly cooked butter and sugar… without a candy thermometer! This tool makes the entire candy cooking process EASIER- there’s no mistaking temperature. For ease, I recommend a digital candy thermometer that clips onto your pot like this one or this one. If calibrated, a candy thermometer is more accurate than using your eyes to detect candy’s doneness.
- Calibrate: I’ve never had to do this, but if you think your candy thermometer’s readings are off, you can test it with a pot of boiling water. At sea level, water boils at 212°F (100°C). Each 500-foot increase in altitude lowers the boiling point by about 1 degree. If your candy thermometer reads above or below the boiling point for your location, make the necessary adjustment when cooking candy.
Heavy bottomed saucepan: I’ve ruined many batches of toffee by using a cheap pan. A deep and thick saucepan with straight sides is the ideal place to cook candy. Thin pans, which often have hot spots, do not withstand the heat required for toffee cooking. I burned 837258 batches of toffee before realizing this. These days I have a few pans I use for making toffee: here and here. Both pots are excellent choices. The Cooks Standard is a great option for beginners, while the All-Clad is ideal for controlling the temperature of your candy. Well-crafted, heavy, and maintaining precise temperature, copper cookware is the best for candy making.
Wooden spoon: Wood has a high heat tolerance. It also doesn’t conduct heat, so it won’t suck heat out from the cooking candy which causes crystallization. If you need one, here’s a wooden spoon set that I love for all my cooking!
- Crystallization: the formation of sugar crystals in cooking candy. It will turn your smooth syrup into a lumpy and grainy mess!
Pastry brush: A pastry brush helps rid the saucepan of sugar syrup that may have splashed up around the sides. This syrup could burn and crystallize, ruining your batch of toffee. Wet it with water and wipe the sides of the pan clean. It’s ok if some water drips down into the cooking candy.
Silicone baking mat: A silicone baking mat makes your candy making experience much easier. Why? When you pour the toffee out onto the baking sheet, it is so much easier to spread onto AND remove from this slick silicone surface compared to a bare baking sheet, parchment, or aluminum foil.
6 Homemade Candy Success Tips
- Smaller/larger batch: I don’t recommend halving, doubling, or tripling candy recipes, especially this toffee. Increasing or decreasing the quantity may work for baking, but the extra or decreased volume could prevent the candy from cooking properly. Make separate batches instead. Or if you need less, simply freeze or gift the leftovers.
- Weather: Candy is picky about the weather. Never cook candy on a particularly humid day, as it will absorb moisture from the air, which will result in too-soft candies or even crystallization. Cool, dry days are ideal.
- How to clean a sticky saucepan: It’s not always easy or fun, but I have a helpful solution! When you’re finished making sticky candy, simply fill the dirty saucepan with water until the water covers all of the candy residue. Place any utensils, such as spoons or knives, that may have gotten dirty inside the saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove over low heat. Let the warm water simmer and melt the sugar off the sides of the pan. Pour out the warm water, then let the tools sit until cool enough to handle. Rinse clean.
- Medium heat: Fast doesn’t always win the race. Cook the toffee on medium heat. A gradual rise in temperature prevents scorching.
- Butter separation: If you notice the butter separating during the cooking process, remove the pan from heat and stir vigorously to bring the mixture back together.
- Be prepared: Read through the recipe and watch the video above before starting. Have all of your tools ready and ingredients measured next to the stove because things happen quickly!
Homemade candy, toffee especially, has the reputation for being difficult and finicky. The rumors are definitely true; candy making is legitimately chemistry. However, if you have the right tools and follow the recipe closely, you’re guaranteed success. I’ve made way too many mistakes to let your batch of toffee fail! For something easier, you can always try my pumpkin spice truffles or pumpkin spice puppy chow.
See Your Pumpkin Spice Toffee
Thank you for sharing photos of my recipes in your own kitchens on social media!
Pumpkin spice toffee only requires a handful of basic ingredients and will be your new favorite fall treat.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) chopped unsalted pecans
- 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup (120g) warm water
- 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon (215g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided*
- 6 ounces (170g) quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped*
- Toast the pecans: Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the chopped pecans on top and toast for 7-8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside. 1 cup will be used inside the toffee and the rest are sprinkled on top.
- Make the toffee: While stirring with a wooden spoon, melt the butter over medium heat in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan. Once melted, add the water, 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pan (as you’ll get an inaccurate reading).
- Stir the mixture every minute as it begins to boil. Rapid bubbles, a thicker consistency, and a slightly darker color form around 240°F (116°C). Continue to stir every minute until it reaches 290°F (143°C; soft crack stage). Be watchful– the temperature slowly rises in the beginning, but then skyrockets quickly. If you notice it’s rising very fast, you can even turn off the heat when the toffee reaches 285°F (141°C), as it will continue to cook in the few seconds after.
- Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1 cup toasted pecans. Pour the toffee out onto a silicone baking mat lined baking sheet. Smooth into an even layer. The toffee should be thick and not spread all the way to the edges of the pan. Cool the toffee for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get the toppings ready. Mix the remaining 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Melt the white chocolate. You can melt it in a double boiler or use the microwave. I melt it in the microwave in 20 second increments, stopping and stirring after each.
- Spread the melted white chocolate on top of the toffee, then sprinkle with remaining pecans and sugar/pumpkin pie spice mix.
- Refrigerate toffee for 20 minutes or until white chocolate has set. Peel off the silicone baking mat and break toffee into pieces.
- Store toffee in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 2 weeks.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Freeze toffee for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Special Tools: 12×17-inch (or similar size) Rimmed Baking Sheet | Wooden Spoon | Silpat Baking Mat | Saucepan: this pan or this pan | Pastry Brush | Candy Thermometer – this one or this one.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: I like to measure this from a big batch of homemade pumpkin pie spice, but if you just want to add the individual spices, you can make your own using 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
- White Chocolate: Use baking white chocolate, found in the baking aisle. I suggest Bakers, Ghirardelli, or Lindt brands. Baking chocolate is sold in 4 ounce bars, so you’ll need 1.5 bars. If desired, you could use 8 ounces and have an extra thick layer of white chocolate on top.
- Tip: If you notice the butter separating at any time during the cooking process, remove the pan from heat and stir vigorously to bring the mixture back together.
- Candy Cooking Stages: Though I always encourage the precision of a trusty candy thermometer, it’s helpful to be familiar with candy cooking stages. I included a chart on page 17 in Sally’s Candy Addiction, but you can find a thorough one here as well. To use the chart, simply drop a bit of the candy syrup from a clean spoon into a small glass bowl of very cold water and watch what happens. You’ll cook toffee to 290°F (143°C), which is the soft crack stage.
- Be extra careful as cooking candy is very hot and may splash; wear long sleeves and have a pair of kitchen gloves or oven mitts handy.
Keywords: pumpkin spice toffee