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In our family, we love to celebrate. Christmas, obviously, is our favorite, but it’s not limited to one holiday or event. Give us a remotely good reason and we’re down to throw a party to celebrate. We have an annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner, love to break it down at a good wedding, go completely over the top for baby or bridal showers, and birthdays never go unnoticed. All of this means we spend a lot of time planning parties and events and get very excited with the build up to them. Christmas is no exception. My mom and I used to start planning our Christmas dinner menu in early October. As soon as there was a hint of a chill in the air, we were prepping. The same goes for our holiday baking. We planned what cookies and how many early on, which leads to this week’s holiday story: The Christmas Toffee Origin Story.
My mom has been a toffee lover (practically) since birth. I’m fairly certain that her love affair with it started as early as possible. She loved heath bars and loved them even more crunched up on her ice cream. If there was a store that made homemade toffee, you could guarantee we would be taking some of it home, no matter the price. Eventually my brother and I caught on to just how delicious the buttery sugary goodness is and like so many other traits, her love of toffee was passed on to us.
There are plenty of holiday cookies that become staples or classics for every family. We always, always make classic chocolate chips, a very dear friend has nutmeg logs that disappear first off a cookie plate, and my husband’s family lives for peppermint and white chocolate covered pretzel rods. Otherwise, our holiday baking tends to vary according to our whims and whatever recipe struck our fancy that year. Somehow, in our years of baking it never once crossed our minds to try our hand at making our own toffee until 2016.
It started simply enough, a random thought that crossed through my ADHD riddled mind while folding laundry or washing dishes, or some other simple task that occupies your hands but leaves your mind free to wander.
“I wonder if it’s hard to make toffee at home?” I thought.
“Ehh, it’s pretty expensive, it’s probably difficult.” my mind replied to itself.
Out of curiosity, I looked it up anyway. You know what? It’s not hard! In fact, it’s almost EASY. I called my Mom immediately to share my brilliant plan. We were going to make toffee this year, and it was going to be amazing, and she was going to be so happy I had the thought, and I was going to have saved Christmas. I dialed the phone, grinning ear-to-ear ready to share.
“Mom?!” I practically screamed.
“I was just about to call you!” My Mom replied.
“I decided we should make toffee for Christmas this year. What do you think?” She continued cheerfully.
I couldn’t help it. I laughed as I told her she had taken the words right out of my mouth. I had called to tell her I’d had the exact same idea. I told her how proud of my ingenious idea I was, and how I’d built up in my head how excited she was going to be, and we laughed for a few minutes about my own sheer ridiculousness before we moved on and talked about the million other things that we’d share with each other throughout our days.
So, we found a good recipe and we made the toffee. And it was delicious. So delicious in fact, that we started giving it to all our friends and they now look forward to receiving the toffee each holiday season. We only got to make it together 2 Christmases but it’s a requirement in our household now, and I think of my Mom and our silly conversation every time I make it. So, in the spirit of sharing and thanksgiving I’m now sharing the recipe with all of you. It’s very simple and the only rule is that you have to keep stirring.
2 cups salted butter
2 cups white sugar
¼ tsp. salt
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Handful finely chopped almonds
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat stirring until the butter is melted. Stirring constantly, allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color and the temperature has reached 285 degrees or “hard crack.” Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. As soon as toffee reaches the correct temperature, pour onto the prepared baking sheet and tilt the sheet to spread the toffee evenly. Allow to cool a few moments, then sprinkle with chocolate chips and leave to cool another moment. Once the chocolate has begun to melt, use a spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer to cover the toffee. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
I hope you enjoy the toffee! To any of our readers who celebrate Hanukkah, Hanukkah Sameach!
Thanks for joining us,
Kendall and all of us at Beth’s Christmas.