Hard Crack: Heath Bar and Brittle Lovers, This Cookie Is for You

“Why toffee?” I asked Hard Crack founder Richard Marmet. (A rhetorical question, as any Heath bar lover would tell you.)

“I didn’t feel like I had dialed into something truly delicious,” he said, showing us around the kitchen in an industrial building in Port Chester. His previous company had made energy bars—enough said.

Hard Crack’s cookies, like the person who makes them, don’t quite fit any mold. Toffee laced but not brittle, shortbread based, but not sandy, they demand seconds for not only deliciousness but also complexity. (The palate needs time to figure out what to make of them. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I reach for another.) A newer product, dark-chocolate-covered toffee nibs, meant as a topping or to be eaten on their own, are dangerously delicious—if I were an ice cream store, I’d jump on that.

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“The energy bars were date based…we sold them at stores in Manhattan,” Marmet said. He had gone from being a lawyer to co-founding wine store chainlet Best Cellars (bought by A&P shortly before it went bankrupt), to leasing space to culinary entrepreneurs in the Port Chester building. His wife is an editor at Food & Wine. “We have a lot of stuff coming in the door,” he said. “I just love toffee and caramels.”

The toffee is made in small batches with all-natural ingredients; shards of it lay in huge plastic containers. “Hard crack” is the candy-making stage at which syrup forms a brittle thread when dropped in cold water.

Working with toffee, like launching businesses, involves a degree of trial and error. Fold toffee chips of the wrong size into cookies and they form craters. A machine helps get the chips to just the right size. A new line of chocolate bars will contain hazelnuts, cocoa nibs, and other piecey add-ins, but a prototype bar looks curiously smooth. “It’s something we’re working on,” he said.

The cookies come in original toffee, chocolate chip toffee, and my favorite, mocha toffee, with bits of coffee and nips of sea salt. With national distribution, the cookies made the jump from bags to boxes. Marmet reaches to a shelf for a plastic container of old samples. “Here’s a flavor we don’t even make anymore,” he said, showing us a bag that evokes Tate’s Bake Shop (whose ingenious bags have always seemed a large part of their appeal; however, boxes look and act more professional). Find them at DeCicco’s in Harrison and Armonk, Whole Foods in Port Chester, Chappaqua Village Market, and stores throughout Manhattan, or buy them on the website.

Hard Crack 
33 New Broad St
Port Chester
(914) 481-4220
www.hardcracktoffee.com

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