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What’s The Difference Between Caramel And Toffee

Learn the difference between these two delicious treats

If you are a lover of sweet and decadent treats, then chances are you have probably sampled both toffee and caramel – and found yourself wondering what is the difference between the two.

For although both substances are known to be born from the same sugary parent, that’s as far as the similarities go. For toffee and caramel greatly differ in terms of their texture, flavor, consistency and preparation. 

So if you want to take a more detailed look at the differences between these two confections, then you’ve come to the right place.

Down below we have compiled together some interesting information concerning the contrasting relationship between caramel vs toffee, as well as the various methods that can be used to make these delicious candies.

So why not take a look and learn more about these amazing treats – we promise you won’t be disappointed if you do! 

Let’s Take A Look At The Texture…

When it comes to distinguishing the differences between toffee and caramel, the most noticeable contrast comes in the form of their appearance and texture.

In terms of appearance, caramel can traditionally be purchased in small and spherical candies, which are then usually wrapped in noisy and vibrantly colored wrapping.

While on the other hand, toffee is usually purchased in large chunks or slices and will usually contain chocolate, fruit or nits to cut through the rich sweetness of the cooked sugar. 

English Toffee

In terms of the candies’ consistency, caramel is often considered to be the softer of the two and is known to feature a chewy and gummy texture.

When you bite into caramel, the candy can be stretched similarly to mozzarella cheese and is generally known to be easier on the teeth and jaws, especially when it comes to the amount of pressure and strain being applied to the muscles. 

Homemade salted caramel sauce
Homemade salted caramel sauce

Meanwhile, toffee is known to be a very tough and brittle candy, which is often eaten in hard and jagged sheets. Although the substance can be extremely delicious, it can also put an incredible amount of strain on your teeth, as it is not a candy that is easily bitten into.

Of course, the preference for which one is the superior snack comes down to personal taste and opinion, as both are made using large amounts of sugar and can deliver the same crave-fulfilling sweetness. 

But How Are They Made?

Although the most obvious difference between toffee and caramel is their appearance and texture, that does not mean that the contrasts end there. For the most important differences lie within the structure of both substances, which are known to use very different methods and ingredients to be made. 

In terms of ingredients, most caramel recipes feature a delicious combination of sugar, water and milk, which helps to give the candy its natural sweetness and chewy consistency.

When the caramel is cooked, the sugar will usually be heated to a temperature of around 248 degrees Fahrenheit, when the hot sugar will usually take on the appearance of a firm and workable ball. 

bowl of melted caramel sauce
bowl of melted caramel sauce

On the other hand, toffee does not usually feature milk and instead is made using a decadent mixture of sugar and butter. When the mixture is cooked, the sugar will be heated to a temperature of around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when the sugar should begin to take on a hard and crackling appearance. 

When examining the two substances on a scientific scale, another key difference that arises between the two is their chemical composition, with both candies’ containing uniquely different sugar crystals.

Studies have shown that caramel contains longer sugar crystals than toffee, which helps to give the substance its iconic texture and stretch. 

Conversely, because toffee does not feature milk in its recipe, this means that it contains much shorter sugar crystals, which are the primary reason for its fragile and crunchy nature. 

What Can You Make With Them?

Interestingly, one of the main similarities between toffee and caramel is that they are often used to make a selection of delicious desserts and snacks. Because toffee is considered the harder of the two candies, it often features as a primary ingredient in recipes such as peanut brittle and is even popularly eaten on its own. 

peanut brittle
peanut brittle

However, this does not mean that the candy cannot be used to make softer treats, as toffee often features in a delicious dessert called Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is considered a staple dish in British cuisine. 

Meanwhile, caramel often features as a primary ingredient in many baked goods and desserts and is often favored for its soft and chewy texture. Caramel is commonly used to make delicious treats such as cakes, caramel apples, apple pies and millionaire’s shortbread. 

caramel apples with nuts
caramel apples with nuts

So there you have it, those are the common differences between toffee and caramel. We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that it taught you something new about one of your favourite snacks! 

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Written by Ryan F.

Ryan is a Philadelphia local who enjoys checking out Philly's restaurant scene every chance he can. He grew up in South Jersey and now lives in Philadelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood. Ryan also enjoys traveling and checking out local eateries in every city he visits.