Lambrecht’s Gourmet Toffee, located in First Electric Cooperative’s service territory, is made in Heber Springs and sold in 40 states. Photo by Kat Robinson.
Category: Uniquely Arkansas

Heber Springs confectioner specializes in toffee, chocolate and spiced pecans

Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee is an extraordinary delicacy that’s featured as a high-end confection. It has won awards and hearts throughout Arkansas and the world, which is amazing, since one of the makers wasn’t allowed sweets as a kid.

The Bumble Berry, Blood Orange and Peanut Butter Crunch Bars are some of Lambrecht’s chocolate delights. Photo by Kat Robinson.

David Smith’s dad was a dentist. Candy was verboten in the Smith household. Later in life, a friend would give David a toffee recipe. He liked it so much, he made it for friends, and thus a whole business was born.

Cathy and David Smith turned their homemade toffee recipe into the award-winning Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee business. Photo by Kat Robinson.

The Smiths owned a catering business, and both worked for Dillard’s before Nancy took a job in Heber Springs with Patti Upton’s Aromatique. Dick Upton recruited David to come manage the venerable Red Apple Inn, which he and Patti had just purchased.

One Christmas, the Smiths gifted homemade toffee in a Christmas stocking.

“Patti Upton loved it,” David says, “and she told us, ‘We’re taking this to market.’”

“Originally, they were in those little coffee bags,” Nancy shares. “We had a shelf in the back of the showroom (at Aromatique), and I would talk with anyone who would listen.”

Each year, Lambrecht uses 2 to 3 tons of imported chocolate. Photo by Kat Robinson.

The product, toffee with pecans, was originally labeled Red Apple Toffee and sold at the inn as well. But sales expanded so quickly that the Uptons insisted the Smiths needed to operate the business separately, gifting them the equipment already purchased for the endeavor. That’s when the Smiths moved the operation to its current home on Heber Springs Road, and changed the name.

“Her maiden name’s Landbright,” David says, “and Lambrecht is the ancient version of that.”

Lambrecht uses 1,200 pounds of pecans each week. Photo by Kat Robinson.

The Smiths began working different food shows in Dallas, Atlanta and elsewhere, offering their unique Arkansas-made, pecan-focused toffees to the public. Today, you can find Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee in 40 states, all of it produced in a small kitchen and processing facility in Heber Springs. Sales are handled through the website and specialty retailers.

The Salon International Chocolate Competition named Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee the Top Toffee in America. Photo by Kat Robinson.

The toffee has gone on to win major awards, including Top Toffee in America at the Salon International Chocolate Competition. Over the years, David and Nancy have diversified, adding several different seasonal sipping cocoas and bark bars to their offerings. Most of the products they create are originally something conjured in their home kitchen, taste-tested with friends for months before they’re ever considered for addition. Others come from inspirations.

“I had been approached by one of the chocolate companies I work with that sells different types of chocolate,” David says, “and they had a strawberry chocolate that was excellent, but it was $50 a pound. We had just been on a trip where we had seen berry-flavored chocolate bars, and it just sort of clicked. So, I worked with the strawberry chocolate sparingly and berries, and we created this Bumble Berry Bar. And then the Peanut Butter Crunch — chocolate, with its swirl of peanut butter and the little peanut butter cups and pretzels — the number one candy bar is the Peanut Butter Crunch.”

Spiced with sugar, salt and chili peppers, Sweet & Spicy Glazed Pecans quickly disappear off retail shelves. Photo by Kat Robinson.

But above everything recently, it’s the sweet and savory pecans that have really taken off. The Smiths tried the recipe out for months with friends, and then started taking them to food shows, where they’d quickly disappear off the shelves. Today, those pecans are sold by the bag or tin. They’re spiced with sugar, salt and four types of chili peppers for a perfect and irresistible combination.

Lambrecht Gourmet’s spiced pecans and toffee means a lot of pecans come through the facility. Every Monday, 1,200 pounds of pecan halves are delivered for use in the company’s products. Additionally, the Smiths go through 2 to 3 tons of imported chocolate to make each item’s particular blend, whether it’s dark, white, milk or a specialty flavor.

The company continues to produce its products year-round, even in the hotter summer months. Their world-class confections have become a must-have for chocolate connoisseurs.

If you’d like to share some sweet or savory Arkansas-made delights from Lambrecht Gourmet with your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, visit their website or shop at one of the several Arkansas places that offer the treats, such as The Savory Pantry in Hot Springs and Green Corner Store locations in Little Rock and Fayetteville.