The Belle Toffee story began in the 1950s with packages of heavenly toffee arriving at the Marak household at Christmastime. The cook: Aunt Ida Belle.
“We all loved it,” said founder and nephew Larry Marak.
With childhood memories still abundant, Larry sought out the recipe when he and his wife Joyce were first married. But Aunt Ida Belle was a little protective of her baking secrets.
“I’m going to have to think about it,” was her response.
Larry finally got the recipe in a roundabout manner: Ida Belle gave it to Larry’s mom, who passed it onto him.
When they finally got the coveted recipe, it was a spare set of instructions on a 3x5 card.
“It described how to make it … almost,” said Larry.
Trial and error was required. Years of it. But the Maraks didn’t give up.
The challenge? Candy making is art. But it’s also science. Cooked almonds must “pop.” Temperatures must be precise and measured. All ingredients are not equal.
Larry, with a background in engineering, kept tweaking this and that. He kept careful logs on every recipe and variation.
Then one day, it was bound to happen. Tested, tasted and … voila! They had come upon the golden batch. Aunt Ida Belle’s toffee had been re-created. It was the first of many wonderful replications.
Larry and Joyce began sharing the candy on holidays as Ida Belle had done. That’s when his son Jon and daughter-in-law Tracy saw the potential to share it with the world.
“They said ‘You’ve got something unique.’”
A trial balloon was launched when the toffee was offered for sale at a charitable fund-raiser. Every last tin was purchased. In 2009, Larry retired from engineering and put his full-time efforts into Belle Toffee.
The toffee started getting local press, then made its way into several gourmet food stores, trade shows, events, then online.
We hope the story continues as our toffee makes its way into your home, family and traditions.
“I get a good feeling talking to people about it and seeing their reaction,” said Larry. “We like to make people happy.”
We use authentic ingredients and wouldn’t settle for anything less. That means painstakingly seeking out just the right chocolate, the perfect almond and eschewing shortcuts often used in large-scale factory production.
Our ingredients are cane sugar, creamery butter, almonds from California, hazelnuts from Oregon, and espresso. We use imported Belgian dark and milk chocolate for the almond toffee and a Columbian dark chocolate for the hazelnut espresso toffee.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
Our highest compliment is the endorsement of others. We appreciate these kind words and hope you’ll share their sentiment about Belle Toffee.
“Belle Toffee is making me happy this week and every week. It’s made locally and it’s the best toffee I’ve ever eaten. I’ve given it to friends for their birthdays. Check it out.”
Tina Harryman, Lee’s Summit Go
“They brought some samples in and we thought it was about the best toffee we’ve ever had. They provide us samples and people taste it, love it and buy it. The quality level is way up there. I personally love it. Dark chocolate hazelnut espresso is my favorite.”
Ron Shalinksi, The Better Cheddar, Kansas City, Mo.
“It’s delicious and our customers love it. Sometimes we have a hard time keeping it in stock. It flies off the shelves here. Once our customers taste it they always buy it. You have to try it.”
Marilyn James, A Thyme for Everything