Our Top Pick Of The Week is Holm Made Toffee, a 30-year-old family enterprise that began as many artisan food companies do: by making toffee gifts for friends and family. As with most of these small businesses, the thundering enthusiasm from the recipients led them, ultimately, to a small commercial enterprise. As more people tasted Holm Made Toffee, demand grew and now, Randi Holm has created a family business positioned to be a legacy for her children and grandchildren.
The toffees focus on hazelnuts, a local crop in Oregon, where Holm is based. A whopping 99% of the U.S. hazelnut crop is produced in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. (There’s more about hazelnuts below.)
The delicious flavors include:
If this is too much choice for you, just order the six-pack of most popular flavors.
We tasted six different flavors, and have just this to say: Each flavor is so special, that we’d skip the Original in favor of tasting as many flavors as we can.
Cardamom? Espresso? Lavender? Spicy? Anything else? You can’t go wrong.
In addition to pieces of toffee and gift boxes of toffee, there are Toffee Bits: little pieces you can use to garnish ice cream; rim cocktails, coffee, hot chocolate, even milk; roll to coat ice cream sandwiches, and so much more.
For gifts, or to treat yourself, head to HolmMadeToffee.com.
Your taste buds will thank you.
When we were growing up, nut assortments and chocolate-covered nuts were called filberts. Why?
It is believed that the name was based in Catholicism. The feast day for France’s St. Philbert is August 20th, the same time that France’s hazelnut crop is ready to be harvested. Hence, a celebration of both.
On the other hand, some historians believe that “filbert” derives from the German vollbart which means “full beard.” The husked shell of the hazelnut resembles a beard.
Hazelnuts are also called cobnuts. Here’s more about it.
The hazelnut originated in Asia Minor (Anatolia), a peninsula that comprises the major part of modern Turkey.
Chinese manuscripts dating back 5,000 years discuss the nut. The Greeks and the Romans spread it all over Europe, where it has been grown from ancient times to the present. Many of today’s cultivated varieties were developed in the 19th century, following a great interest for hybrids [source].
Turkey remains the main producing country for hazelnuts worldwide, followed by Italy, Spain and the U.S.
More hazelnut trivia: Botanically, most nuts are the seeds of a fruit, while true nuts—such as chestnuts, acorns and hazelnuts——are fruits in and of themselves [source].
Most food historians believe that the toffee we know today, made with caramelized sugar and butter, emerged by the early 19th century.
It may have happened in England, one of the northern European dairying countries that plentiful supplies of butter.
The Oxford English Dictionary first mentions the word “toffee” in 1825; and historians note that words can be in use for decades before they became widespread enough to be included in a dictionary.
English toffee and American toffee diverged with the preferred use of sugar type. English toffee is made with brown sugar, while American-style toffee, known as buttercrunch is made with white table sugar (granulated sugar).
Buttercrunch is typically dusted with crushed almonds or other nuts. Some are enrobed in chocolate—dark, milk or white.
And sometimes, as with Holm Made Toffee, the toffee is flavored with espresso, lavender, spices, etc.
It’s important to note that the use of the terms toffee and buttercrunch in the U.S. are not consistent. Many producers who use granulated sugar and nuts call their products “English toffee” or simple, “toffee.”
Why? Perhaps they aren’t aware of the difference; perhaps because “English toffee” may have more consumer appeal than “buttercrunch.”
But now, you’re an educated consumer: You know the difference.
But does it make a difference whether it’s called toffee or buttercrunch?
Only if you’re a nit-picking food historian. (We are.)
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