Toffee - only smoother

English Toffee Bars aren't toffee at all

English Toffee Bars aren't toffee at all

December 18, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Without looking at the ingredient list, you would never know that Karen Shockey's English Toffee Bars contained neither toffee nor toffee flavoring.

Shockey, who lives east of Hagerstown, makes the toffeeless toffee bars for her husband, Leonard Shockey, and her 13-year-old twin sons, Jason and Brian - whom she home-schools - during the holidays.

Shockey grew up eating the dessert, its recipe handed down from her mother, Marguerite Kinney, who lives down the road from Shockey. Kinney received it from their pastor's wife (Donna Zamora, who now lives in New Mexico) when Shockey was a child.

"That's just the way we got (the recipe from the family friend)," Shockey said. "The recipe did not call for toffee. That's the name she gave it."


The bars don't require many ingredients - just sugar, butter, egg, flour, cinnamon and pecans (or crushed walnuts, if you prefer). The bars take about an hour to bake, and the recipe yields enough to serve 15 to 20 people.

The end result: a texture between that of a cookie and a cereal bar. It tastes like what toffee would be like if it weren't sticky, crunchy and hard to bite.

The bars go best with tea and are the perfect light fare for both formal and informal gatherings, Shockey said.

"I like them because they don't require a lot of attention (while cooking)," Shockey said. "You don't have to watch them. You can put them in and walk away."

After making a batch of English Toffee Bars, Shockey discussed the recipe and cooking with this reporter.

Q: So, I take it your mother cooked often?

A: Yes. She was a good baker. She always had good meals. Mac and cheese, potpies.

Q: Sounds like good comfort food.

A: Yeah. I try to cook a lot for my family. Mac and tomatoes, I got that from my mom, too.

Q: I imagine you had your share of English Toffee Bars as a little girl?

A: Yeah. We ate them often. My mom would whip them up for special occasions.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to cook?

A: Well, my husband loves it when I make chocolate chip cookies. I like making tea cakes around Christmastime. Mexican tea cakes and old-fashioned sugar cookies. I have a friend who does snickerdoodles. She adds crushed Heath (bars). That's really good. So sometimes, my family does that.

Q: So, has this baking thing rubbed off on your boys?

A: (Laughing) They're boys. They appreciate it and help sometimes.

Karen Shockey's recipe for English Toffee Bars calls for butter, sugar, flour, an egg, cinnamon, and pecans or walnuts but no toffee.

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