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.
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.
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.