Slow and Steady Wins The Candyland Race

In his later years, my dad became a holiday candy maker and his patient nature was surely a factor in the success of his smooth fudge and  Joe’s Chocolate-Almond Burnt Toffee. He wouldn’t let anyone into the kitchen during his experiments and kept his recipes closely guarded, but my mother testified to his long evenings spent slowly stirring and monitoring the temperature of batches that would make their way into gift boxes.

I eventually inherited the handwritten recipe cards he kept carefully tucked away. And I learned that the trick is to find the experienced insider’s knowledge behind those simply written family recipes. Unfortunately, those are the very secrets candy makers keep to themselves.

After trying out his toffee recipe for the first time a few years ago, and making my way through two batches (one disastrous),  I’m glad I inherited dad’s patience, as well. This recipe is something of a study in chemistry, as the simple mixture of butter, sugar and almonds (topped later with chocolate and crushed pecans) makes its way from granular to melty, then moves into a panic-inducing phase where the butter separates into liquid and a clumpy mass, before finally coming together again in a thick, rich liquid gold as it hits the right temperature. This toffee has the somewhat grainy texture of a Butterfinger candy bar, rather than the hard crack of brittle.  It brings out the buttery richness and the ultra-toasty note of almonds. Perfect for those who aren’t into toothache-inducing holiday sweets.

Joe’s Chocolate-Almond Burnt Toffee

Friends and Family Holiday Candy

Joe’s Chocolate-Almond Burnt Toffee

Buttermilk Fudge

Freda’s Divinity

Aunt Helen’s Caramels

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