From Academic Kids

Toffee is a confection made to a variety of recipes by boiling together molasses, treacle or sugar with butter, milk and occasionally flour. The mixture is heated until the temperature reaches 150-160°C (305–320°F) (known as the hard crack stage to confectioners). Toffee in the making is often mixed with nuts or raisins.

The process of making toffee involves boiling the ingredients until the mix is stiff enough to be pulled into a shape which holds and has a glossy surface. The resulting mixture will typically be poured into a shallow tray and allowed to cool to form a sweet. Different mixes, processes, and (most importantly) temperatures of toffee making will result in different textures and hardnesses, from soft and oftimes sticky to a hard brittle material.

A variant is "Cinder Toffee" (also called Honeycomb toffee), which is an aerated version with bubbles introduced by adding baking soda and vinegar while mixing. The baking soda and vinegar react to form carbon dioxide which is trapped in the highly viscous mixture.

A particular application of toffee is in toffee apples, which are apples on sticks which are coated with toffee. Toffee apples are similar to taffy apples and caramel apples (both names for apples which are covered in caramel), but not the same as candy apples which are coated in cinnamon hard candy.

Owing to its sticky property, toffee has the capacity to pull loose dental fillings from teeth.

The origins of the word are unknown; The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first publication of the word to 1825, though there's little doubt that the sweet dates back further than that. (McGee, 1984 p. 410) claims it to be "from the Creole for a mixture of sugar and molasses" and that it entered the language early in the 19th century.

Related idiom

Toffee gives rise to a reasonably derisive idiom in the British English; it can be said of an incompetent person that they cannot do (whatever it is they cannot do) for toffee. In another slang phrase, to be "toffee-nosed" is to be condescending or aloof. Upper class people or those with airs and graces in the United Kingdom are often derisively referred to as "toffs".

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