What’s the difference between caramel, fudge, and toffee?

9 Oct 2022

Chocolate Knowledge Food + Drink

Caramel, fudge, and toffee are all delicious — but what is it that makes each type of confectionery unique?

At Hotel Chocolat, we’re not just fans of chocolate. Some confectionery can make our chocolates all the more scrumptious. We’re talking about the likes of caramel, fudge, and toffee — three sweet treats that, in just the right amounts, can take our chocolatey creations to a whole new level. Let’s take a look at the difference between caramel, fudge, and toffee, plus a few of our favourite Hotel Chocolat recipes.

Two halves of a chocolate with a fudge filling

What is caramel?

Smooth, amber in colour, and truly sublime, caramel is a confectionery made from sugar. You can drizzle it over cakes as a sauce or add it to chocolates as a gooey filling. Did you know there are two types of caramel: wet and dry? These terms refer to the manufacture of the caramel, rather than the texture of the finished product. Dry caramel uses just sugar, while wet caramel features water in the manufacturing process.

To make caramel, you’ll need to heat the sugar to around 170 degrees Celsius. This temperature is the point at which its molecules break down and form new compounds. But note: you must constantly stir the sugar to prevent it from burning!

Sweet, sticky, and the perfect indulgent ingredient in chocolates and desserts, we adore combining caramel with ingredients such as salt, orange, pistachio and more.

Learn more about caramel in our article all about caramel. This guide includes how to make it and what you can do with it.

A stream of caramel dripping into a pan of caramel

Our caramel chocolates

While you’ll sample some caramel chocolates with lots of our selection boxes – like our Everything Sleekster Luxe – you can also enjoy our caramel slabs and selectors.

Why not start with our Caramel & Co Bar studded with crispy caramel florentines, followed by our nutty Caramel Pecan Chocolate Selector? Both showcase the beauty of sumptuous caramel, just in two different ways.

If you’re already a caramel lover, stock up on our Salted Caramel Drinking Chocolatehot chocolate with a twist, and Salted Caramel Velvetised Chocolate Cream — a smooth blend of salted caramel chocolate, vodka, and cream.

What is fudge?

While caramel usually contains just one key ingredient, fudge is made from a perfectly balanced mixture of sugar, butter, and milk. Plus, it’s not heated as high — around 115 degrees Celsius. As the mixture cools, beating it gives it a fabulous creamy consistency that ends up being thick, dense, and able to be sliced into chunks.

While caramel is often enjoyed in desserts and chocolates, you can enjoy fudge on its own or as an ingredient in chocolates.

Where did fudge come from? Historians believe it was first discovered in the U.S. sometime in the 19th century when a confectioner “fudged” a batch of caramels. So, if you’re still trying to get your head around the difference between caramel and fudge, think of them as confectionery cousins. Similar in taste, but different in consistency and texture.

Sweet shop counter including dairy-free vanilla fudge

Our fudge chocolates

If you’re interested in tasting a chocolate and fudge combination at its finest, try our Chocolate Fudge Sundae Selector. Fall head over heels with rich and gooey toffee, smooth hazelnut, and mellow milk chocolate. It’s an indulgent chocolate fudge sundae, reimagined by our chocolatiers. Discover layers of temptation and thank us later.

What is toffee?

If you’ve got to grips with the difference between caramel and fudge, let’s take a look at toffee.

Toffee is made by caramelising sugar or molasses with butter and sometimes flour. Confectioners heat the mixture at around 155 degrees Celsius, which gives it a harder texture than fudge.

This temperature difference is known as softball versus hard crack temperature. As toffee is hard crack, it has a more brittle texture. Fudge, on the other hand, is softball – making it soft and crumbly.

The difference between caramel and toffee is greater, as caramel has a more liquid consistency and is usually pure sugar (it doesn’t contain butter or flour). Still, the taste of caramel, fudge, and toffee is relatively similar, as they are all made from mostly sugar (as well as butter in the case of fudge and toffee). If you like one of these treats but haven’t tried the others, it’s worth giving them a go! You’ll probably adore the same creamy sweetness that’s common to all three treats.

Like fudge, toffee is thought to have grown in popularity during the 19th century. In England and Europe, plentiful butter supplies meant the ingredients for fudge and toffee were readily available. It was easy to whip up a batch of toffee at home — and many people did!

Eventually, people began sharing recipes and confectionery businesses took note of the success of the treat. From there, toffee became as popular and widespread as it is today.

Our toffee chocolates

If you like toffee, we recommend sampling our Trillionaire’s Shortbread Selector. While this chocolate doesn’t contain toffee, strictly speaking, it is a richer version of our Billionaire’s Shortbread Selector. You’ll get to enjoy our blissful hazelnut praline and butter caramel — providing all those rich, toffee-esque notes.

Close-up: Hotel Chocolat Trillionaire Shortbread Selector

Caramel, fudge and toffee delights from Hotel Chocolat

Now you know the difference between caramel, fudge and toffee, why not sample a few nibbles of each to compare and contrast?

At Hotel Chocolat, our chocolatiers are pretty good at slipping toffee, fudge, and caramel flavours into lots of our chocolate bites, so you have plenty to choose from.

We also recognise the importance of showcasing the nuanced notes cacao has to offer – that’s why we focus on more cocoa, less sugar. More than just a surface-level motto, this manifesto informs every bite we create. As well as being unhealthy, too much sugar can mask the deep flavours of the cacao bean. Caramel, fudge, and toffee all feature sugar as a key ingredient so it’s important to balance the sweetness with a high cacao content. We’re sure our caramel, toffee, and fudge treats will dark chocolate devotees and sweet tooths alike.

Why not explore our entire collection of chocolates and hot chocolates and see what takes your fancy?