Thorntons Chocolate Smothered Toffee

Last semester, I went to a Master’s Tea with Melanie Dunea, author/photographer of My Last Supper. The book consists of her photographs of 50 world famous chefs, including Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Thomas Keller, and Mario Batali, and what they’d like their last suppers to be like. If you ever come across the book, check out Guy Savoy’s excellent response. It’s a great coffee table book, and it makes a great gift for foodie friends. In fact, I got a copy of it signed for my friend Cassie’s 21st birthday present. I also may have read through it before I gave it to her…

So what does My Last Supper have to do with Thorntons Chocolate Smothered Toffee? Well, after hearing Ms. Dunea talk about meeting all those great chefs, I was curious as to what she would have for her last supper. So I asked her. She said her ideal last meal would be Thortons Chocolate Smothered Toffee and a glass of red wine. Luckily, there’s a Thortons right in the Cambridge City Centre, so I was able to make a bag of chocolate smothered toffee my first candy purchase in the UK.

I was surprised at how irregularly shaped the toffee pieces were, as they all looked fairly uniform on the photo on the bag. The outer coating of milk chocolate was sweet and creamy and definitely noticeable, as there was about 1/2 a centimeter thick layer of it. It certainly smothered, and it made the confection a tad too sweet for my taste.

When the candy was cold, the toffee inside cleaved like American toffee but once warmed in your hand or in your mouth, it chews into a super sticky caramel, like UK toffee normally does. And when I say sticky, I mean sticky. The flavor was nicely buttery, but it gets stuck in your teeth like whoa. Somehow that buttery taste didn’t translate into a physically buttery (aka greasy, not overly sticky) toffee. Usually, that would be a plus, but in this case, not so much.

The toffee was just too messy to eat. Because the chunks were so big, you couldn’t pop one whole in your mouth, but if you bit off a piece, by the time you finished chewing and chewing and chewing, the rest of the piece would have melted all over your fingers. I know because I brought the rest of the bag into lab to share at lunchtime. I warned people that it was hard to chew, but the intrepid sweet-toothed ones forged ahead anyway. And they struggled messily, and I felt guilty for subjecting them to candy-related social faux pas.

In conclusion, the toffee was tasty but messy and difficult to eat, making it more difficult to enjoy. I didn’t think to try it with a glass of red wine; I think that would actually pair nicely, with the acidity of the wine cutting through the sweetness of the candy. The toffee gets an OM from me. I wouldn’t turn it down if it appeared at my last supper, but I wouldn’t make any special request for it.

Finally, on an unrelated note, happy birthday, Mom! I’m sorry I can’t be home to spend it with you, but I am thinking happy thoughts for you, with a 5-hour time difference head start.

Thorntons Alpini-inspired bar Continental

Thorntons seems to be pretty well known in England but unheard of in the US. I actually had this bar in America, a month or so before I arrived in the UK, courtesy of my British friend Michael (the same one who gave me all the Japanese candy that I’ve been reviewing. He’s British but lives in Kobe. And he’s also American because of his parents’ citizenship. Or something like that). I’m glad I didn’t let my impression of this bar turn me off on Thorntons entirely, for I’ve since had fresh stuff straight from a Thorntons shop that I liked much better than this bar.

The wrapper bills this as “delicious milk chocolate, dusted with icing sugar, and a golden roasted hazelnut and almond praline center.” Too many commas in that sentence, I think. From what I can tell from browsing the Thorntons website, this chocolate bar is the bigger version of their Alpini truffle. I think it was better off little, since it doesn’t look like much as a chocolate bar. Mine, at least, was somewhat irregularly formed, and while the uneven coating of powdered sugar looks nice on the truffles, it just looks sloppy on the bar.

The center was quite creamy and hazelnutty, but not in the nice roasty hazelnut way that I love. Instead, it tasted rather artificial, making it not unpleasant, exactly, but nothing to crow about. The almond praline of the center gives the whole thing a nice crunch and a super sweet tinge. For me, the chocolate coating was unremarkable, but I’ve since had better Thornton’s truffles with nicer chocolate, so I think it may have been a lack of freshness issue with the bars.

Overall, I found this bar to be overly sweet for me, though others may like it. Again, I’ve since had a few of their truffles, singularly purchased straight from the shop, and I liked those more. Freshness, I’m sure, has a lot to do with it, and I’m wondering if I’ve lately developed even more of a sweet tooth – that is, a highly tolerance for sweetness – recently. Something to ponder, I suppose. At any rate, this bar warrents just an O; I had no desire to buy more Thorntons bars when I visited the shop, and I still don’t.