I was roaming down the aisles of Promelis Market in Newport Beach and something caught my eye! It was a clear paint can style container with the label, “B. toffee.” Inside the container was a bag of chocolate covered toffee that sung out, “Eat me!” Before I knew it, my shopping cart was veering towards the aisles like a sailor answering the call of the sirens into the rocks, except I found myself with a can of toffee in my hand.
The product I picked up, B. toffee, is a relatively new product on the gourmet food aisles, but has managed to develop among a rabid group of loyal consumers. I was curious as to why this product had been flying off of the shelves, so I decided to eat a can of B.toffee, purely for research purposes of course 😉
When I looked at the product it was pleasing to the eye with its use of a clear paint can style outer packaging and emblazoned with a clean “B. tofee” label. On the inside of the container, a bag of stacked chocolate covered toffee rested on chocolate-brown confetti. The look of the product was quite elegant and something I would bring to a classy dinner party or as a gift to someone I want to impress. Just a hint to the guys reading this article, bring this toffee to a date and she will be impressed; pair this toffee with a bottle of wine and magic will happen ( I do not guarantee results).
I opened the container and the bag which was labeled, “Handmade in Newport Beach, California”. The toffee looked hand crafted, with its artistically imperfect application of toffee to chocolate. I will often pay more for a gourmet food product if I know it is hand-crafted, as these products use higher quality ingredients and have better quality and a higher quality product. When I opened the bag, the aroma of buttery toffee wafted out, it was obvious that this confectionary was hand crafted with love. The chunk of toffee I selected felt substantial in weight and had a nice appearance. The color of the toffee was a vibrant golden brown; the layered milk chocolate had a creamy appearance and was coated with small chunks of fresh pecans.
My previous experiences with toffee have not been pleasant; either the toffee was so hard, it resulted in a visit to the dentist for a cracked tooth or so sticky that I was trying to pick out an enamel of sugar from the crevices of my teeth. When I bit into B. toffee, I was pleasantly surprised that I had a completely different experience. On the first bite, the toffee was firm, but easily crunched under my bite and crumbled when I chomped down. When the B.toffee hit my tongue, the chocolate and toffee began to slowly dissolve. Additionally, the toffee chunk was still soft enough to give it a slight creamy and chewy texture. This texture profile was no small feat and I think it could be attributed to the cooking process and superior ingredients. The flavor of the toffee was buttery sweet and when it mixed with the creamy milk chocolate, it created a pleasant flavor balance.
The use of pecans also added some flavor differentiation and complexity to the toffee.Typical toffee utilizes walnuts, which have an oily and slightly bitter flavor; although, B.toffee uses pecans which are sweet and slightly dry. By using pecans, the toffee was able to maintain its sweet flavor while using the dryness of the pecan to accentuate the cream, butter and cocoa flavors. The proteins in the pecans also balanced the sugar, allowing the toffee to be enjoyed without getting a sugar rush.
Did you know that Pecans are actually good for you? As part of a healthy diet, they are good at lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, controlling weight, and have cancer preventative qualities. I only mention this in case you need some extra justification to eat another piece of this toffee.
I also picked up their dark chocolate toffee which was very similar to the milk chocolate version, except it had a sharper flavor which provided a greater contrast to the toffee. This flavor contrast was subtle, but enough to change the entire flavor profile of the toffee. For example, the dark chocolate accentuated the very slight bitterness in the pecans. Also the bitterness in the dark chocolate made the sweet butter flavor of the toffee pop out in the palate versus being complimentary, as in the case of the milk chocolate. Although I ate both the milk and dark chocolate with a nice 2007 Zaca Mesa Syrah, the dark chocolate was the soul mate for this wine. I could see myself eating this toffee while sipping on a nice glass of red wine in front of the fireplace. I know what I will be doing tonight.
I had the pleasure to interview the owner and creative force behind B.toffee, Betsy Thagard. Betsy had a genuine aura as she welcomed us into her Newport Beach office and appeared excited to be featured in my foodie blog. I asked Betsy about what makes her toffee different? She stated, “I only use the highest quality ingredients from the butter to the domestic sugar.” For the chocolate topping she uses premium Guittard and Callebaut chocolates. Guittard Chocolates are a very high-end chocolate supplier from the San Francisco area that are actively involved in ensuring ecological sustainability and fair treatment of cocoa workers. Callebbaut is a premium Belgium Chocolate that is world-renowned for roasting and grinding cocoa themselves and selects only the rarest and exclusive varieties. The result is a superior chocolate with complex and deep flavors. Betsy also explained that she uses Texas Pecans from the Thagard Family Estate Farms, which according to family lore, are distant relatives. The recipe for toffee is incredibly simple, but the right ingredients and cooking method makes the difference.
I asked Betsy, what motivated her to become a toffee entrepreneur and she said, “I gave my friends bowls of my home made toffee, but they would come back with an empty bowl asking for refills.” Betsy continued to explain that she, “received encouragement from her family and friends to start marketing her toffee.” The game changing moment happened when Promelis Market, in Newport Beach, picked up B.toffee, Betsy said, “T hey have been carrying it ever since and I have been fortunate to have good word of mouth.” Since her initial foray into retail, Betsy has expanded her business into a wider retail market, from San Diego to Northern California. One of the exciting areas of her continued expansion is the personalized gift wing of her business. The toffee is packaged into elegant containers that are artfully decorated and personalized with the client’s logo or message. My wife recognized that there is a strong market for these types of gifts and began to inquire to Betsy about the variety of different color and font options that she offered for personalized weddings, baby showers, graduations, etc. Come to find, Betsy offered a wide selection of gorgeous designs and colors to display her delectable toffees.
My Final Thoughts
B.toffee is now an award winning toffee, as it took the Blue Ribbon at the 2011 OC Fair for the Culinary Arts category. The Blue Ribbon she acquired was an affirmation of the positive comments from her happy customers who have told her that B.toffee is some of the best toffee they have ever tasted. Look at your friendly food blogger as an example, I am not a toffee fan, but polished off the entire can without leaving any for my wife. I am giving B.toffee 4.5 out of 5.0, a very rare score that is well deserved. I predict that B.toffee will soon one day go into national distribution and Betsy Thagard might just become a Food Network personality. Foodies, keep an eye on this brand, it is a rising star in the foodie world.
Contest to My Foodie Fans!
I have contacted Betsy and she has generously agreed to give away a 1-pound can of toffee to one of my very lucky fans (I’m jealous, I want to win a pound of this toffee). How do you win? The contest is easy, you must press “like” on B.toffee Facebook Page and “Like” Tom’s Foodie Blog (be sure to do both to qualify for this contest…it’s quick and easy). I will be picking a winner on September 20th. If you are the winner, Betsy will directly ship you a one pound can of milk or dark chocolate toffee. This is really a great contest and an opportunity to sample this fast rising foodie star’s toffee before she goes national. Good Luck, Tell your friends!
Visit B.toffee’s Website: http://www.btoffee.com/index.html
B.toffee’s Facebook Page: B. Toffee Facebook Page
Where Can I find B. toffee? Below is a list of retailers who carry B.toffee (check for availability before you make a special trip due to the high demand)
- A Market
- Promelis Westcliff Market
- Promelis Seaside Market
- Hi Time Wine Cellars
- Where’s The Party
- The Meat House
- The Cellar
- Irvine Ranch Market
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