Tasty Tuesday: Homemade sweets that make perfect gifts

Miss Diane’s Christmas Toffee

About a hundred years ago, my boys all took gymnastics for a few years from a wonderful woman called Miss Diane. Every Christmas, Miss Diane gave the gift of homemade toffee to the families of all her gymnastics students. I badgered that poor lady for years for her recipe. She told me quite bluntly that she didn’t want everyone else in our small town making this toffee, forcing her to find another annual Christmas treat.

We now live thousands of miles away from Miss Diane in a different small town, so I think that it’s safe to share her recipe.

Miss Diane’s Christmas Toffee

Cook together in a heavy saucepan to “hard crack stage” or 300°-310° (this temperature is if you’re at sea level; if you’re not, for every 500 feet of elevation above sea level, subtract 1°) It’s important to stir constantly.

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. butter

Remove sugar mixture from heat and stir in 1 t. vanilla and 1 cup chopped or sliced almonds.

Pour out onto a greased cookie sheet.

Spread 1 c. melted chocolate chips on top of the toffee once it’s cooled and sprinkle with finely chopped almonds. When that’s cooled down, turn the candy over and repeat the chocolate and almonds.

This candy makes a wonderful gift.

I’ve learned the hard way that there are a few things that can cause this candy to fail. For reasons completely beyond my understanding, it’s important to make this toffee on a clear, sunny day. If the day is overcast, there’s a very good chance that the sugar and butter won’t melt together right. I also have learned to use a brand new bag of sugar when I make this recipe. It’s very important that there is no extra moisture in the sugar from the air–so a newly-opened bag of sugar is the best bet. Make sure that the saucepan is totally clean and completely dry when you put the butter and sugar into it.

I’m hoping that some someday a more knowledgeable culinary person out there can explain why the weather makes a difference when making candy!

If you have people in your life that you want to say a special thank-you and Merry Christmas to, a batch of homemade toffee does it nicely. Now’s the time to start making some of these treats if you want to bless others with them.

Perhaps something minty is more your speed? Check out the recipe for Peppermint Bark. Perhaps Pecan Pralines sound yummy? Here’s a new recipe on My Sister’s Kitchen for just such a tasty treat.

I hope you’ll stop by My Sister’s Kitchen frequently over the next few weeks; we’ll be posting new recipes almost every day. See you there!

Barb Kelley.