* Prices may differ from that shown
Tucked away in a small market town in Cumbria, lies a very well known shop. The town is Penrith and the shop is The Toffee Shop. They barely need to advertise their wares. Word of mouth has guaranteed this shop has remained successful over the years, since 1910 to be precise. It's changed hands three times and is now owned and run by Neil and Pat Boustead.
Although it's called The Toffee Shop, the product this shop is most famous for is the fudge. Have you ever tasted a Cadbury's fudge bar? Well, fudge from The Toffee Shop is nothing like that. I've nothing against the Cadbury's fudge bar, but the fudge from the Toffee Shop is simply in a league of its own. Once you've tasted it, you have to fight with yourself not to finish it in one go. And it's this unique addictive taste and quality that's made this shop famous worldwide.
Possibly one of the reasons they're so good at what they do is because that's all they do. They dedicate their skills to producing their high quality, unique tasting fudge that has ensured their longevity. They use the same recipe that the original owners found so successful. The ingredients for fudge consist of butter, sugar and milk and for the toffee, syrup or black treacle. The key to their perfect fudge is in the cooking for the correct length of time in brass pans. Then they pour it out into large cooling trays ready to be cut up for customers.
The fudge is quite unlike any other fudge you've ever tasted. It comes packed in blocks from which you break off a suitable sized chunk. The outside has a smooth feel to it and inside it's slightly softer. When you take a bite, you can feel the texture has a slightly grainy quality. And the taste is a wonderful combination of buttery vanilla sweetness that just dissolves too quickly, making you reach for the box once more. I have tried the toffee and it's very nice, naturally. But I've always loved the fudge.
I lived in this town for a few years and if I was ever passing by, it was practically impossible not to go inside. It's only since I left that they've expanded and now sell their products at outlets around the country.
They've become so well known that Prince Charles and Prince Andrew both paid a visit in 2003 to watch the cooking process undertaken here. And Lord Lichfield is quoted as saying "it's the best fudge in the world".
The shop has a tiny frontage. It's quaint with a bell that rings above the door when you enter. Walking into the shop is a joy in itself. Your sense of smell is instantly filled with the sweet, vanilla sugary smell of freshly cooked fudge and toffee.
Inside the shop is a large white counter top with a display of box sizes for you to choose your fudge or toffee to be packaged up in. Just the other side of the counter is a door through which you can glimpse the large trays of freshly cooked fudge. When you place your order, they cut it straight from the blocks and pack it into greaseproof paper and seal it up inside one of their Toffee Shop boxes.
Whenever I'm back up in Penrith visiting the relatives, I always purchase a few boxes of fudge to take back home and share out among the work colleagues. Once they taste this fudge, they always want to know where it came from and how to get hold if it.
The fudge doesn't just come in regular fudge flavour. They also do a chocolate and mint alternative. They are nice but the original is always my favourite. The toffee comes in butter or treacle flavour. The Toffee Shop are happy to pack a mixture of different combinations of fudge or toffee into one box if you can't decide.
Box sizes and prices are as follows:
227g (0.5lb) - £3.96
454g (1lb) - £7.60
681g (1.5lb) - £11.45
910g (2lb) - £14.80
1365 (3lb) - £21.51
But you don't need to live in the vicinity of Penrith or rely on visitors bringing some back for you. Nowadays you can order their famous fudge and toffee online. You'll also find it stocked it in many outlets around the country. By visiting the website, you can type in a town or postcode to find your nearest stockist.
Their website is: http://www.thetoffeeshop.co.uk/index.htm
Their address is: 7 Brunswick Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7LU. Telephone: 01768 862 008
Homemade fudge and toffee.