The best-seller: Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee. Photo by Melody Lan.
KAREN HOCHMAN is editorial director of THE NIBBLE™.
Cary’s Of Oregon English Toffee
Variety In The World Of Fine Toffee
CAPSULE REPORT: This line of toffee “fingers,” dipped in Guittard chocolate (or plain), is another worthy entry to the gourmet toffee pantheon. We liked all varieties—with almonds, hazelnuts and ground cacao nibs—but we flipped for the specialty Chai Tea Toffee, tasting like a combination of toffee and gingerbread. Enjoy it anytime; it’s also perfect for the holidays.
Cary Cound is a man on a mission—to offer you so many varieties of delicious toffee that you won’t get tired quickly. There are eight different flavor combinations: plain, with dark or milk chocolate, with almonds or hazelnuts (Oregon’s state nut), with specialty seasonings. There’s even a toffee trail mix.
The company’s original recipe, for the plain English toffee, came from his wife’s grandfather, who rolled it on a marble slab, the old-fashioned way, for holiday gifts. The surprise holiday gift became a Christmas candy-making tradition in the Cound house; Cary began giving gifts to his own friends, and then, as happens so often in the specialty food business, friends, families and co-workers suggested that he “go into the business.”
Toffee is made daily, with much of the candy-making still done by hand. Ingredients are top quality, including creamery butter and superb Guittard chocolate. While the toffee is made with pure butter, it isn’t redolent of butter like some of the other toffees—Enstrom’s, for example, is made with so much butter that it is a dairy product and needs to be refrigerated. Cary’s calls its product a “soft crunch” toffee. That can be confusing: we find it has about as much crunch as most of the other fine toffees we’ve sampled—in fact, Enstrom’s Toffee and V Toffee are significantly softer. That is neither good or bad—it’s just what it is, and what it is, is very good toffee. Perhaps Cary’s is trying to allay concerns as some of the imported English toffees are hard as rocks. (In fact, the derivation of “toffee” is “toughy,” as you’ll read below.)
Cary’s toffee is made in “fingers,” 3 inches long by one inch wide by 3/8" high. It’s a nice shape and fits gracefully on a coffee cup saucer. Most varieties are coated generously in chocolate and sprinkled with large pieces of top-quality toasted nuts; there are nuts within the fingers as well. They’re not too sweet—in fact, the discerning palate can taste the tiniest amount of salt from the salt butter, which provides a good counterpoint.
Milk Chocolate Toffees
Cary’s uses 41% cacao couverture from Guittard Chocolate Company, one of the best chocolates one can buy. It’s a very dark milk chocolate, not a sweet, sugary one: we, who are not milk chocolate eaters, loved it. The milk chocolate-enrobed toffees are available:
- With Toasted Almonds—the best seller
- With Chai Tea—one of our favorites, it tastes like gingerbread and toffee combined; it also includes almonds (in bite-size rectangles, about 1" x 1-1/4")
- With Hazelnuts
As with the other varieties, they are perfect for snacking or for more formal callings: we like including a piece as part of a dessert plate, e.g. with a tartlet and a small scoop of ice cream or sorbet; or with cookies at tea.
Chai Toffee. Photo by Melody Lan.
Dark Chocolate Toffee
Dark chocolate-lovers can get their toffee:
- With Toasted Almonds
- With Espresso—the espresso flavor comes from finely ground beans sprinkled on top of the chocolate; it also includes almonds
- With Hazelnuts
- Toffee Fingers are the same size as the other toffees but are for those who don’t like chocolate
- Trail Toffee, one of the most popular products, is chunks of plain toffee mixed with toasted almonds, dried cranberries and raisins
Espresso Toffee. Photo by Melody Lan.
Three sizes are available: one pound, half pound, quarter-pound. The smallest makes a nice party favor or stocking stuffer. Not all flavors are available in all sizes, but the most popular, Milk Chocolate With Toasted Almonds, is available in all three.
What Is English Toffee?
How does “English toffee” differ from other toffee? The English are credited with having invented toffee. According to British Heritage magazine*, toffee became popular around 1800, when sugar and treacle (molasses) had became affordable. All early references to toffee come from the north of England and often mention friends getting together to boil treacle with flour to make a sticky treat. Improvements to the basic mixture included adding cream, a specialty of Devonshire, or butter, to make a rich confection. An early spelling is “toughy” or “tuffy,” probably a reference to its teeth-sticking toughness.
Buttery toffee is often called butterscotch, which suggests it was invented in Scotland. But the word was first recorded in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster, where Samuel Parkinson began making it in 1817. To “scotch” means to cut or score something; when butterscotch candy was poured out to cool, it was “scotched” to make it easier to break into pieces later.
*From “English Toffee: Sweet, Rich, and Beloved by the British,” British Heritage, February-March 2002 (p. 16). This article is available full-text from the EBSCO Masterfile database. You may be able to access this from your library or home computer. For more information on the differences between toffee, taffy, butterscotch, caramels and other candy, visit FoodTimeline.org.
Located in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon, where a lot of other great food-making is going on including Rogue Creamery, producer of some of our favorite cheeses, and the wonderful chocolatiers Dagoba and Lillie Belle Farms, Cary’s of Oregon has an observation at their factory. After you watch it being made, the toffee will taste even better! And you can enjoy your own custom eating tour of the Rogue Valley.
CARY’S OF OREGON
English Toffee Plain or Enrobed In Milk Or Dark Chocolate, With Or Without Nuts
A variety of sizes is available, along with decorative packaging and gift baskets. Check website for details.
- 4-Ounce Box
Milk With Almonds, Milk or
Dark With Hazelnuts
- 8-Ounce Box
- 16-Ounce Box
- Sampler Pack (above)
8-Ounce Box each, Milk
Chocolate With Almonds,
Dark Chocolate with
Almonds, Dark Chocolate
- Toffee Fingers
8 Ounces, $6.20
16 Ounces, $12.20
- Trail Toffee
8-Ounce Bag, $5.50
Gift Tube of 3 Bags, $19.95
Purchase online at CarysOfOregon.com
Above, Hazelnut Toffee, shown in a 16-ounce box.
Below, Sampler Pack of 8-ounce boxes.
Shipping additional. Prices and availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.