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Chapel Hill Toffee

Ever tried toffee? I made a happy discovery and found Chapel Hill Toffee while in my local grocers and picked up a box all in the name of research for Handmade NC. Instead of tearing into the box in the car, I brought it home, plated a piece (or three), and sat down to taste test this gorgeous, sugary confection.

Chapel Hill Toffee is definitely a family affair. Karen Graves had perfected her toffee recipe and decided to open a small home-based business. She made her retail debut at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill in 2006 and soon after (2008) son Mark joined her in the kitchen to help scale their business. His wife joined the Chapel Hill Toffee team in 2012. What started as a cottage industry in North Carolina has grown to a much larger family business with products now in 400 retailers across the country.

Chapel Hill Toffee #HandmadeNC

On first appearance, the toffee is a perfect square, robed in dark chocolate and dusted with finely chopped pecans. When you smell the toffee, you are smelling the deep dark cocoa and pecan. The first bite gives you a hint of good dark chocolate and a slight nutty flavor. Not enough nut to overwhelm your palate, but just enough to enhance the dark chocolate. The real surprise is getting through the thin layer of chocolate and getting the first hit of English toffee on your tongue.

Chapel Hill Toffee #HandMadeNC

Imagine your taste buds coming alive and you’ll understand what you will find when you try Chapel Hill Toffee. The dark, earthy chocolate with its hint of truffle, mixes with the depth of the pecan. These flavors meld with the smoky, sweet, caramelized sugar used to create the toffee, with an unexpected hint of salt from the caramelization process. The toffee was brittle enough to have a satisfying crack, but not so brittle that you think you are going to break a tooth when biting into it.

You can find Chapel Hill Toffee in select retailers on their site www.chapelhilltoffee.com. To order online, head over to http://www.chapelhilltoffee.com/shop/.

Disclosure: This post was not sponsored. I bought Chapel Hill Toffee at my local Whole Foods and am quite happy it made it home for me to do a proper taste test. If you see me devouring toffee at the red light the next time I leave the grocery, please look the other way. I don’t want you to witness such toffee savagery. 

Dean Smith: A North Carolina Legend


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Tonight North Carolina is mourning the loss of legendary University of North Carolina Chapel Hill basketball coach, Dean Smith. It does not matter if you are a fan of rival basketball programs, Dean Smith is a name you know and respect.

I’ve been a Carolina basketball fan since I was a young girl. When I met my husband, I joked my blood ran Carolina Blue to his Maryland red. My toddler cousins, now 26, used to say they were going to “bring Dean Smif out of retirement.”

Originally from Emporia, Kansas, Coach Smith had a 36 year coaching tenure at the UNC-CH, retiring with 879 victories, 2 national championships and 11 Final Fours. In short, he created a basketball dynasty for the University of North Carolina that is still going strong today.

A big proponent of desegregation, Charlie Scott was recruited by Coach Smith and the became university’s first African-American player to receive a scholarship to play while attending UNC-CH. Most don’t realize that UNC-CH was still rigidly segregated in 1959. Smith came to Carolina in 1961 and by 1966 Scott was playing for UNC.

To give backstory to Smith’s integration work, in 1964, he joined a local pastor, Robert Seymour, and a black theology student to integrate The Pines, a Chapel Hill restaurant. Smith was still an assistant coach at the time, but they walked to the restaurants and waited outside until they were seated. The following year, he helped Howard Lee, a black graduate student at UNC, buy a home in an all white neighborhood.

Fred Hobson, a retired UNC English professor who played on the all-white freshman basketball squad the same 1961–62 season Smith took over as head coach, said Smith got involved “not because he wanted to necessarily, but because he felt he had to. His father had led school integration in Kansas when he was growing up and carried that same deep sense of moral right and wrong. He simply had a firm desire to do the right thing and take a leadership role.** ”

Coach Smith retired in 1997, no longer able to give the enthusiasm needed to coach a program like Carolina. He still advised the Carolina basketball staff and worked tireless in his community. On July 17, 2010, his family released a statement that he had a “progressive neurocognitive disorder” and from then on, spent his last years quietly out of the spotlight.

Dean Smith was a memorable man and touched everyone who met him. He was a true leader in the state of North Carolina and that is what will stick with us. More than basketball championships or Final Four appearances, Coach Smith gave himself to North Carolina and served our state with selflessness, strength of character, and leadership. For that, we shall always love him.


MichaelJordanDeanSmith” by Zeke Smith from Chapel Hill, NC, USA – Michael Jordan, Dean Smith. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Source** http://www.unc.edu/spotlight/dean-smiths-courage/