Avid cookbook reader Sherry Giannini spent her pandemic downtime experimenting with toffee recipes and came up with a winning formula, according to family and friends who urged her to market the endorphin-inducing candy. To that end, she hand-crafts seven tempting varieties, including salted espresso, key lime, classic, Mexican hot chocolate, churro, s’mores ($15 for 1/2½ lb.) and the most popular, bourbon-pecan English toffee ($18). Each flavor shines on its own, but the bourbon-pecan is a showstopper, a crunchy brick of toffee topped with bourbon-infused chocolate and crowned with chopped pecans and almonds. Giannini whips up small batches of toffee, 5 pounds at a time: “I cook it low and slow.” She also makes old-fashioned peanut brittle and toasted coconut-pecan brittle. Find The Toffee Merchant at Uptown Farmers Market, The Merchantile of Scottsdale, Chadwick’s Urban Market and Sphinx Date Co. Palm & Pantry.
The Toffee Merchant
Flavored Roasted Pistachios
The pistachio harvest in Arizona typically begins the last week of August and often wraps up in early October, says Debra Hodges of Delicious Nut Brand. The Southern Arizona company farms about 1,000 acres of pistachio trees in Cochise County’s Dragoon Mountains foothills. While it harvests and sells plenty of plain roasted and salted pistachios in the shell ($12.99/pound at AJ’s Fine Foods), the company also puts out some first-rate flavored selections, including chile-lime, hickory mesquite, roasted garlic and roasted jalapeño. Recently, Delicious Nut introduced spicy salt and pepper, fiery red chile-habanero and salty and sour tequila-limón. Creating new flavors is a long process that involves soaking the nuts to ensure that the flavor reaches the pistachio and not just the shell’s outer surface, Hodges says. Then, they have a taste test. “If it’s not delicious, we’re not doing it.”
Delicious nut Brand
Blue Clover Distillery, best known for its Scottsdale-made vodka and gin, has recently started making bitters – that cocktail-enhancing botanical favorite of bartenders everywhere. The Old Town distillery produces three flavors: singed orange ($15.99, Trevor’s Liquors) for old-fashioned and whiskey sour cocktails; grapefruit-hibiscus for citrus-driven martinis; and red chile-habanero for spicy margaritas. “It’s a concentrated additive for cocktails, so you don’t need a lot to go a long way,” says co-owner and distillery general manager Weston Holm. To make the singed orange bitters, Holm lightly chars orange peels on the grill to give them a slightly burnt taste, a flavor that pairs well with the smoky cocktails that are now trending. The bitters-making process involves steeping ingredients in high-proof alcohol and soaking them for a month or so before straining and bottling, all done on premises. Purchase all three versions at the distillery.
Blue Clover Distillery
7042 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale