Chocolate Caramel Pecan Toffee [Vegan & Gluten-Free]

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When it comes to a special Christmas treat, one of my
all-time favorite indulgences is a piece of homemade candy. It wasn’t all that
long ago, one would often see tins of homemade treats under the glowing
Christmas tree. 

Today we’re going back in time to when gifts were simple and
made by hand. Love filled each and every tenderly created package. If this is
what Christmas looks like for you, you’re 10 steps ahead of all the shopping
mania so many of us, myself included, get caught up in.

Chocolate and caramel are the ultimate combination of
flavors. Add to that the richness of toasted pecans and you’re sure to win over
any heart. The texture of the toffee yields a nice snap that makes my taste
buds dance just thinking about it.

Wishing you a holiday that’s warm and inviting, merry and
bright, and most of all, filled with love!

Ingredients

Nut layer:

1 Tbsp. vegan butter substitute, room temperature

½ cup pecans

Caramel layer:

¾ cup vegan butter substitute, I used Earth Balance Organic
Whipped Buttery Spread

¾ cup cane sugar

1 ½ cups almond milk

¾ light organic corn syrup (organic recommended to avoid GM
corn)

¾ tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Chocolate layer:

1 – 10 oz. (283.5g) bag semi-sweet non-dairy chocolate chips

*You will also need a candy thermometer

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes.

Add toasted pecans into a food processor, and pulse a few
times until the pecans are coarsely ground. Alternatively, you can chop pecans
or crush them in a zip top bag.

Grease generously a 9×13 inch pan with 1 Tbsp. vegan butter
substitute.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the bottom of the
greased pan. Set aside.

Measure 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and set aside so it is ready
to add to the caramel as soon as it comes to temperature.

In a deep sided pot over medium heat add ¾ cup vegan butter
substitute, sugar, almond milk, corn syrup, and salt. When the ingredients
combine turn heat up and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Insert a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the caramel.
Continue to boil and stir the caramel until the temperature reaches 285 degrees
F, soft crack stage. Please use caution it is very hot.

When the caramel has reached 285 degrees F, remove from heat
and stir in vanilla. Poor the caramel over the chopped pecans. It helps to
spread the caramel by pouring it around the pan because it hardens quickly. You
may want a second set of hands to hold the pot while you scrap the caramel out.
Spread the caramel as evenly as you can with a metal spatula or butter knife.
You’ll need to move quickly.

Set aside and allow the caramel layer to harden.

Meanwhile, in a food processor add the chocolate chips.
Pulse the chocolate chips about 40 times until they resemble crumbs. Scrap down
the sides, and run the food processor for one minute. Scrap down the sides and
allow the chocolate to rest for 1 minute. The chocolate will become a solid
mass.

Using a clean, dry spatula break the mass apart.

The process of running the food processor for 1 minute,
scrapping down the sides and letting the chocolate rest for 1 minute is going
to be repeated 4 or 5 times until the chocolate becomes a smooth, fluid
consistency. This is a method for tempering chocolate that I learned from
watching Alton
Brown
.

Ideally you want the chocolate to reach the temperature of
88 – 91 degrees F but not rise above 94 degrees F. When the chocolate becomes a
melted consistency use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. If it is
not close to 90 degrees F you can run the food processor for 30 seconds or so
longer, and check the temperature again.

Tempering the chocolate gives the chocolate a pretty shine
and makes it snap when it is hardened and you break it.

If you don’t have a food processor you can alternatively
melt the chocolate in a double broiler, or in the microwave stirring every 30
seconds until melted.

Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the hardened
caramel, and allow the chocolate to set and become firm. I did this by placing
it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Using a thin metal spatula or butter knife, pop the toffee
out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Using a heavy sharp knife cut the
chocolate caramel pecan toffee into large chunks. Start by cutting the toffee
into large chunks because you can always break them smaller if desired.