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After the candy cools and solidifies, Joyce turns it out and, with a loud crash, dumps it on a table, breaking it up into smaller pieces. The tiniest pieces are put through a colander and sold as ice cream topping. The rest is sold as toffee. Joyce also makes a version without chocolate.
For a family that makes toffee for a living, neither Barbara Joyce or Zack Joyce eat much toffee.
"I won't change the recipe, so it won't happen. I'd have to add Saucony Courageous Green
As the orders grew, she decided that with toffee as expensive to make as it is she could not just give it away.
For a while, she only gave the toffee to close friends and family. Then her husband, Jim, gave some to his business clients.
This is not your standard, Heath Bar toffee. Using a process that Joyce keeps secret she would not even let the reporter watch the entire process the toffee is made, mixed with almonds, layered in chocolate and encrusted with pecan dust.
Barbara Joyce's husband, Jim, tells a story that shows how the word spreads about the toffee.
Joyce does most of the toffee making in a 16 inch copper kettle called the Savage Brothers Fire Mixer. She mixes in the butter and sugar, with a few other ingredients.
While living in Chicago, she started to experiment with making toffee. She first went from a recipe in a cookbook, but over eight years she constantly tweaked things, adding an ingredient here, changing a cooking time there, until she hit her present formula.
Steeplechase Olde English Toffee
And every year she sells about a quarter more than she did the year before.
Joyce's son, Zack, does much of the cooking for her these days. He waits until the mixture hits a certain temperature, then dumps in almonds. As the almonds mix in, the heat causes them to leak oil, which also blends in with the toffee mixture.
"That was it. It really took off as a corporate Reebok Kids Shoes
"There was a lady in St. Louis, who ordered some for a friend of hers in Cincinnati," Jim Joyce said.
gift." Joyce said.
That would not only change the flavor but also the homespun nature of the candy. She started making toffee 15 years ago, but has been interested in homemade candy much longer.
Down on Pigeon Street, there is a room with black and white checkered floors that many children, and not just a few adults, dream about.
"When I was a little girl, my aunt showed me how to make chocolate Easter eggs with molds," Joyce said. "It was a revelation. 'My God! Real people can make candy, it's not just something you get in the store,'" Joyce said.
"I eat about one piece a year," said Barbara Joyce. "This is like working in a Saucony Jazz On Feet doughnut shop. You taste it for years, smell it all day. You get used to it after a while."
She opened up Steeplechase and the business has kept growing ever since.
It's the room that Barbara Joyce uses to concoct the flagship product for Steeplechase Olde English Toffee.
During a two month period last winter, from November to December, she made and sold more than two tons of toffee, all Reebok G Unit G6
in one pound and half pound bags.
"We sent the candy, and a few days later we get a phone call. This lady says, 'I'm so embarrassed. I got the candy in the mail and started eating it, and then out comes a gift card and it's for Bob and Helen, my next door neighbors.'
Joyce has had more than one offer from companies wanting to take her recipe to a national scale. The only problem is she would have to compromise her secret recipe to do that by adding preservatives and replacing a couple of items with synthetic versions.
Steeplechase toffee is shipped across the United States, from customers here in Haywood County to her original tasters in Chicago.
preservatives and use vanillin instead of vanilla," Joyce said.
Again, at a specific temperature, Zack Joyce dumps the toffee mixture into two pans. After spreading it out, he puts chocolate chips on top, then smears the melting chocolate over the surface. The candy then is encrusted with pecan dust, Joyce said, so people can pick it up and eat it without getting melted chocolate on their hands.
Each 20 pound batch contains five pounds of butter. There also is sugar and natural vanilla.
"Our secretary told her, 'Go ahead and enjoy the toffee, we'll just send out some more.' The next day the lady who got the candy by mistake ordered 12 pounds for herself. And the day after, her sister called and ordered eight more pounds," Jim Joyce said. "That's my marketing plan," said Barbara Joyce with a laugh.
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