Butter Crunch vs. Brittle vs. Toffee vs. Bark:
What's the Difference?
Let's break it down the best way we can.
But the first step to understanding butter crunch starts with letting us tell you a little about ourselves and our butter crunch journey.
We didn’t invent butter crunch, but we like to think we're playing a big part in bringing our buttery toasty deliciousness to folks that love the perfect bite of candy.
Not Quite Toffee
From the beginning, our version of butter crunch was inspired by the Pink Queen of all butter crunches, Almond Roca, which is gold-foil wrapped toffee coated with chocolate and crushed almonds. (Pink is a reference to its distinctive pink can.) We LOVED the toasted nut and toffee idea, but we wanted to turn it inside out and turn the taste volume WAY UP and emphasize freshness.
Not Quite Brittle
Our recipe wasn’t quite brittle … like the kind you get at See’s Candies. Theirs is old-school for sure (Quite good, I might add). And it wasn’t really toffee, often made with chocolate and nuts, like the kind you see a lot during the holidays. Our recipe was a tad softer on the tooth, more toasty and more buttery, and just plain old delicious. And friends just loved it. So we kept making it. And friends kept loving it. And we made more ... and more. And p.o.p. candy co. was born! That was 12 years ago and we haven’t stopped since. We've tweaked our recipes to near perfection, and are thrilled when we think about the collection of savory, sweet, and salty-sweet flavors we've introduced through the years. As we share with our customers, there are no flavor duds, just flavor favorites!
Why p.o.p. candy?
People ask about this a lot, and we're happy to share. We wanted to base our name in Santa Monica in appreciation for the strong sense of community we've developed with neighbors-turned- friends while living here.
Our name was inspired by Pacific Ocean Park (POP), an amusement park that stood on Lick Pier in Santa Monica, CA (1958-1967). POP had wild rides & attractions, and over a million in attendance during its heyday. People loved it. Later, the pier was part of the ‘Dogtown’ hangout for local skateboarders and surfers until its demolition in 1975.
POP had its own ‘cool’ and is so well remembered. People think of the pleasure it brought with a smile. We like that…a lot. Being authentic, bringing simple joy and pleasure. It’s the way candy should be.
Back on Track
We love doing live shopping events … truly love them. They are a time and place where we can meet and chat with customers, hang out with our maker comrades, and – of course – get out of the kitchen and share p.o.p. with the world.
When people first approach our booth to give us a try, the first question they ask is “What is this?” When we tell them that we’re a butter crunch, the second question they ask is “What is that?” We explain, they taste – and they instantly understand. Not quite toffee! Not quite brittle!
After SO many of these incredible experiences and exchanges with live customers, our thought is to bring what we know and what we share to our online customers to help them learn a little about us as well as the similarities and differences between our butter crunch and the caramelized confections of our comrades, toffee and brittle.
Butter crunch is typically toffee that’s got crushed nuts on its chocolate coating.
Our version turns that idea on its head. Instead of packing chocolate with crushed nuts, we let the nuts cook into our buttery-sweet toffee recipe until they’re nice and toasty, bringing their mojo and nuance into the candy blend. The combination brings a depth of flavor and nuance that only gets better when we add spices, herbs, and extracts during the cooking process.
What Is Brittle?
Brittle is essentially hard sugar candy with nuts. Brittle recipes typically call for sugar, water, and corn syrup to cook together until the sugar melts to a desired hard-crack stage, after which peanuts are added, then baking soda & other flavors, and the mixture is quickly poured onto a buttered baking sheet to harden. Candy thermometers are typically used to make sure that the blend reaches the desired crack-stage. Salt and tablespoons of butter or oil may be added at the beginning or near the end, depending on the recipe.
When the brittle is poured onto a sheet and when it hardens, the sugar-based blend is hard (“brittle”) and somewhat glassy. It’s that amazing combination of caramelized sugar and encased salty nuts that has made brittle a classic sweet treat and family tradition.
Are You A Brittle?
Nah, although we can totally understand why you might think so. We’ve got a similar look, but the texture, flavor, and eating experience is different.
Are You More Like a Toffee?
Yep. Sorta. Though we have our differences.
Toffee brings butter to its base and chocolate to its glaze. The butter, sugar, corn syrup and water are cooked to a hard-crack stage with help of a cooking thermometer, after which nuts are folded in or spread onto the blend, and the candy is cooled before chocolate is added to the top, allowed to soften, and then spread. Sounds delicious, right? Toffee has got a softer crunch than brittle. Butter will do that : )
What About Pralines?
Delicious! And we are flattered that we remind people of pralines! But we say, to find the perfect praline you need to head for New Orleans and let Aunt Sally help you out. Louisiana pecans, cream and lots of sugar. I think that recipe dates back to 1935. Our pecan butter crunch recipe isn’t that old, but it’s so good we think that Aunt Sally herself would love it! And, truth is, after giving us a try, so many praline lovers buy it. Again and again.
What about Bark?
Nope. Not even close to what we do. A great holiday treat, but its own thing entirely. Bark usually has a chocolate base and all kinds of goodies can be added. From candy cane to pretzels ... it’s fun but not what we do. I bet your cousin Val makes a really good bark, and it might even include mini marshmallows or a raisin or maybe even a peanut butter chip. We like to think our butter crunch is a bit more nuanced. No offense bark lovers! :)
Where's the Chocolate?
When butter crunch stands so well on its own, chocolate can be included as a flavor option, not a necessity. So we opt to only include chocolate on very special occasions. For the most part, we're leaving chocolate covered toffee to See's, Enstroms, and Godiva!
Other Butter Crunch Distinctions
Our butter crunch is handmade in small batches the old fashioned with one big difference ... we use organic, gluten-free brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup, so it's typically a tad less caloric than its cousins, toffee and brittle. It's also less sweet, so toasted nut flavors are enjoyed more as the stars, rather than bit players.
Our Butter Crunch Ingredients
Our fresh butter crunch is packed with premium nuts and handmade in small batches using real, clean ingredients like farmers market herbs, fine spices, and all-natural extracts. We use almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and seeds. No peanuts or soy. And, again, brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup.
Other Cool Candy Facts
Did you know that the origin of candy can be traced all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, Arabs, and Chinese? (Some say even before then, to Cavemen!) They were combining honey with fruits and nuts to create sweet delights. Around the same time, Greeks were using honey in candied fruits.
And the English word “candy” has been in use since -- wait for it -- the late 13th century. It's derived from the Arabic word "qandi," which means “made of sugar.”
So candy is nothing new, but it certainly has evolved. And made our life sweeter.
Hope this helps clear up the butter crunch-toffee-brittle mystery as much as possible. We still say the best way to truly "get it" is to taste our buttery, toasty, delicious p.o.p. candy!
Bringing you joy and pleasure. The way candy should be!