Toffee Times Two: Sampling Toffeeology and "toffee talk"
Toffeeology is run by two, fourth-generation, California, candy-maker sisters focused on English toffee -- typically heavy on butter, with almonds included -- made from local ingredients: Guittard chocolate, California-grown nuts, and "freshly churned butter from local farms."
The toffee is sold both "naked" and enrobed in chocolate and dusted heavily with ground nuts.
The resolutely uncapitalized "toffee talk," meanwhile, is run by Catherine Hughes and her cousin from Piedmont. They make Catherine's godmother's childhood toffee recipe, a toffee coated in chocolate and embedded with chunky nuts, which delivers a purer flavor than Toffeeology, whose dusting of ground nuts can sometimes favor the oil over the nut.
The downside to a single side of chocolate is that the chocolate breaks free far more often, leaving you with two disparate layers.
Here's a tasting tour of both companies' toffees:
The English toffees come in attractive reusable organza pouches that would look great as a gift presentation.
Shiny slate chips of toffee with small shards of almonds, like a sedimentary rock of sweetness. Crumbly, with a crisp bite, lightly sweet; immediately fills the crevices of your teeth. Lush, reserved, with just a modest grit of textures. Almonds deliver texture and a light hint of their flavor to create a reserved and sophisticated play on the type, versus the sugar-bomb-blood-spikers you may have made from your Betty Crocker cookbook.
English Toffee: Bittersweet Chocolate
The flavor is like chocolate covered halvah mated with toffee. The chocolate encasement dusted in nuts delivers the light oil of the walnut mated to the chocolate in a manner still remaining reserved and in balance with the toffee itself.
English Toffee: Milk Chocolate
The toasted and oil notes of the nuts comes through more strongly here without the natural assertiveness of the dark chocolate. Lightly milky and creamy notes from the chocolate mellow the pairing considerably.
Simple clear bright packaging emphasizes the toffee. The dark chocolate and hearty chunks of nuts shine through.
Thicker,denser, slightly more assertive than the prior options. Here the big chunks of peanut in the toffee combine with the chocolate and dusted nuts to offer more textural elements.The nuts atop create a bit of a "dusty" feel but the flavor is good and I like the crunch of meaningful nuts.
See Peanut notes -- replace "peanut" with "almond."
This was tied, with pecan below, for my favorites. It had the most butter flavor, though that could be batch variation versus recipe. The red walnuts, a newer, rarer variation created by grafting Persian and English walnuts, deliver excellent flavor.
Flavors here take me back to Pecan Sandies. The ground nuts of the outer dusting are truest to their flavor here, and the chunky pecan pieces bring the meat in nut meat to mind -- hearty and robust. The pecan flavor is strong enough to assert itself within and beyond the sweetness of the toffee. If I had to pick a winner, this would be the one.
Both are excellent toffees. The prime difference is Toffeeology favors a more modest approach to sweetness, while "toffee talk" is more overt. As I like a bit more sweet in my sweets, my preference tips to "toffee talk." For those that lean to less sugar, and we're talking shades of sugar here, Toffeeology is your likely pick.