Butter Brickle is both a taste and a texture.
It’s small, shattered, crunchy pieces of golden-brown coloured, buttery-tasting hard toffee, which are also sometimes sold as “toffee bits.”
Many Butter Brickle variants now add nuts — usually walnuts or pecans — for added richness and crunch, but pure, authentic Butter Brickle has no nuts: it is its own flavour and crunch.
It can be used in cakes, frostings, cookies, ice creams, cream pie fillings, and as toppings for various desserts.
To make a basic brickle:
1 cup (8 oz / 225 g) sugar
4 tablespoons of water
1/2 pound (1 cup / 225 g) of butter
Off the stove, mix in a saucepan the sugar and the water, then dollop the butter in. Cover the pan, put it on the stove, and bring to a boil. Remove the cover, lower the temperature to a rollicking simmer, and let the mixture reduce until it darkens. Cover a cookie sheet with plastic wrap; pour the mixture out onto the cookie sheet and let cool and harden, then break and shatter into small pieces.
Many people, though, often just crumble up bits of toffee — in America, people will reach for Heath bars; in Canada, Mackintosh’s Toffee.
Betty Crocker made a cake mix and a frosting mix that were butter brickle flavoured up until 1990. To recapture the taste of the Betty Crocker cake mix: use a white or yellow cake mix, swap in melted butter for any oil called for, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and once mixed, stir in 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of Butter Brickle bits.
Brickle is just an old English variant on the word “brittle”.