If you ever make it to Grand Junction, Colorado, don’t miss a visit to Enstrom Candies. The maker of World Famous Almond Toffee, it’s also a delightful gift shop, espresso bar, and gourmet ice cream and candy shop where you can watch them create luscious toffee right before your eyes. (And don’t fret, you can also order Enstrom treats online… homemade candy makes a fantastic gift.)
Enstrom’s World Famous Toffee
There’s a place in Western Colorado that takes up an entire city block. It’s a special place the locals take pride in, where they make almond toffee that’s so good, it’s world famous. That’s one reason they cook up over a half-million pounds of it every year.
I’ll be honest. When I first heard of how popular Enstroms was, I made the bold claim, “I don’t really toffee that much”.
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I stand corrected.
Apparently, the problem was that I had never tried Enstrom’s almond toffee. It’s a whole new ball game. Nothing but the highest quality ingredients (butter, butter, more butter… and almonds), made fresh right in the store. Choose either milk or dark chocolate covered, you absolutely cannot go wrong.
And with a sample bowl of each always available at the confections counter, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Generous? Yes. Smart? Absolutely. Even as a local, I never leave without making a toffee purchase.
Pull Up a Chair, Watch the Show
One of my favorite things about visiting the Enstrom Candies factory is watching them make the toffee on huge, stainless steel tables. To catch this spectacle, the sure bet is visiting between Easter and Thanksgiving, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. After Thanksgiving, those talented candy makers get pulled back to the shipping department, to help with the crazed holiday rush.
Seating is provided along a counter top, where you can watch the masters at work through a huge glass window. This experience is mesmerizing to watch. A row of giant mixers stands ready at the helm, with flames of heat below to melt the pounds (and pounds, and pounds) butter. A crew of five to ten men, all clad in white, hustle and slide about the room. Toffee dripped floors must be pretty slick, but I have yet to see a man down.
Curiously, I’ve never seen a woman amongst them making candy. I’m guessing that the lifting of those huge copper basins of boiling hot ingredients, and wielding the giant flattening spatulas, requires a fair amount of muscle. (I’d still love to try it…)
First comes the hot molten layer of toffee. This quickly cools and is immediately covered in chocolate, with a final layer of crushed almonds. If kids are in your viewing party, the veterans often put on a flashy show. They can toss chocolate ripples into the air like a talented, show-off bartender. Grab yourself a treat and a coffee, and sit down to enjoy the entertainment.
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Candy and Chocolate Galore
Pick your guilty pleasure, and Enstrom Candies probably sells it. I love the plethora of gift ideas here, as most people have a sweet tooth. Candy lovers will find a Jelly Belly station and old fashion candy sticks. Novelty foil-wrapped chocolates are a draw for my kids. Aside from those specialty items, I was told that 90% of the chocolate items for sale have been hand made by Enstroms.
Some of my recommended, absolute favorites are the to-die-for, seasonal Peppermint Cookie Bark, and best seller Mint Meltaways. The caramels were a little blah, in my opinion. I’d stick with the traditional toffee over that. In the store you’ll find the toffee is already packaged, frozen, and ready to go in their display freezers. Some are already gift wrapped, at no extra charge.
They also offer a lovely selection of teas in pretty packaging that make a thoughtful, easy gift idea.
Great Place for a Tourist Break
Centrally located in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado, Enstrom Candies is a great place to take a break if you are touring this fun area. Grab some gifts for those waiting back home, and enjoy the free Wi-Fi while you indulge in some delectable treats. The restrooms are open the public (sometimes hard to find in this particular downtown) are consistently clean. I highly recommend it as a place to stop and have some refreshments.
If You Can’t Make It There… Don’t Despair
Here’s the best part: You can order Enstrom’s World Famous Almond Toffee and many of their other gourmet chocolates online, and have them gift wrapped and shipped right to you. Check out their online offerings. If you are gift buying – don’t forget to treat yourself, too.