Jim, when did you make your first batch of toffee?
It was December of 1989. We were living in Kansas City and I started making our family toffee recipe out of our home. We were making the toffee to give along with homemade cookies as our Christmas gift.
Do you have any funny stories of a batch “gone wrong” while you were perfecting your toffee-making skills?
Oh Yes…I had a hard time at first getting the right consistency! Sometimes it was over-cooked and too hard, other times, it was under-cooked and too soft. I remember one time Lisa walked into the kitchen and said this toffee is burnt! I disagreed and she made all of the employees taste it. Of course they didn’t want to throw me under the bus, so they didn’t say anything. Finally, one of our employees said, “Well, Jim, it is a little smokey!” Lisa burst out laughing and we threw it all away.
Did it take you awhile to get it just right?
Absolutely! In the beginning, when we were making it out of our home, Lisa was the official taste tester and she was brutal. I threw away a lot of toffee!
How long on average does it take to make a batch of your toffee?
It takes about 30 minutes to make a batch consisting of about 7 pounds.
How many pounds of toffee does Toffee to Go make on an annual basis?
We are going to begin to prepare for the season right after Labor Day and we will make 1200 pounds of toffee per day. We still make all of this in just 7 -quart pans. Annually we will make over 100,000 lbs.
Why do you feel it’s important to make each small batch of toffee by hand instead of making larger batches in a more automated process?
I just think it makes the toffee taste better. We have had a lot of success by making it in small batches and I want to keep the artisan feel to it.
What are the challenges you face with making your toffee perfect each time?
Since we do not use any additives or preservatives, we do not have a lot of ingredients going into our toffee, so it is not the recipe that is hard. It is more the timing of everything. You cannot be distracted or have conversations while cooking the toffee. Also the humidity must be controlled and kept as low as possible.
What do you enjoy most about making your toffee?
I still love hearing how incredible the toffee tastes and how it reminds so many people of growing up and having their grandmother make it, etc. It never gets old being told that it is some of the best toffee they have ever tasted!
What is your personal favorite flavor?
I have not matured enough to the Dark Chocolate Pecan, I still love the original one which is the Milk Chocolate Almond.
Do you really taste toffee from every batch you make?
Of course…however as we continue to grow larger and have 3-4 cooks in the kitchen, it is impossible for me to taste every batch. After all these years, I can look at it and know if it is perfect or not.As we sit here munching on some Toffee to Go, it is indeed perfect! Thank you Jim for making the best toffee we have ever tasted!