For one thing, it’s a candy treat that has remained popular for almost 200 years. The first printed use of the word toffee was in the 1825 edition of the Oxford dictionary. And reports of family toffee parties in 19th century England are said to have resulted in the naming of January 8th as Toffee Day.
In the 18th century sweets were expensive to make. Sugar was generally affordable only to the wealthy class. But the price of sugar and its by-product treacle dropped in the 18th century as their availability to most classes by the regular import of them from the West Indies made it possible for less-affluent people to make and purchase sweets. Additionally “taffia,” a low-priced West-Indies rum, was often used as an inexpensive sweetener at that time leading some to theorize it is where toffee got its name.
The word toffee always makes me think of coffee, and toffee goes well with a full-bodied espresso or cappuccino since it balances out the acidic beverage. But tea is the drink of the British. So if you’re eating English toffee it may be more correct to take it with tea. If you’re looking for other uses for your leftover tea and tea bags check out our series “The 10 Days of Tea” which we posted last January to commemorate National Tea Month. You will no doubt find some surprises in there. And if you’re into tea, and not a tea snob, Celestial Seasons makes an English Toffee Dessert Tea that sells for under $4.00/box.
Which brings us back to toffee. I’m not much of a candy maker. So I tend to buy premade toffee and have found some nice ones in supermarkets with good bakery sections like Publix, Albertsons, and Whole Foods. I’ve always like Heath bars which use a toffee base and Heath-filled ice creams and gelatos. Häagen-Dazs brand makes a delicious one and you can find it in most supermarkets.
But my most favorite way to enjoy “toffee” is in Chocolate Heath cookies. Find my recipe for them here. And enjoy them with coffee, tea, or milk.
Promo: Try our free Quick Chocolate Heath Cookie recipe to celebrate English Toffee Day, January 8th.
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals