When I was little, I remember watching my mother create tasty Christmas goodies for hours upon hours. My church had a Christmas treat exchange after the annual Christmas program and we all enjoyed the fruits of our mothers’ labor. That holiday sharing is one of the reasons I try to carry on some of that tradition today.
My mom gave me her Good Housekeeping Cookbook this year. A right of passage I suppose. It has survived many great years of cooking and our 1987 house fire. Notice the charred binding.
So, because I’m sentimental. Because I love to add things to my ever growing to do list. Because the holidays just aren’t crazy enough. I make treats.
Just a few. Nothin’ fancy. This year I even cut out my beloved homemade caramels.
First up, Toffee Butter Crunch from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s fabulous and as far as candy making goes, its pretty simple. Yes, you have to pull out that snazzy candy thermometer, but it IS Christmas after all.
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light-colored corn syrup
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or pecans, toasted
1. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Set pan aside.Melt butter in a 2-quart non-stick saucepan. Add sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils.
2. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 290 degreesWatch care-fully after 280 degree F to prevent scorching. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Pour candy into the prepared pan.
5. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts. Chill until firm. When candy is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan; break into pieces. Store tightly covered. Makes about 1-1/2 pounds
Next, for my dad, is divinity. Now some of you might not even know about this little diddy. My dad’s fave. I think he’s the only one that still eats it actually.
This year I tried the recipe above from my mom’s old cookbook. Either way you hash it, divinity is NOT easy.
(adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook-1980 edition)
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 egg whites, room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Mix and heat sugar, syrup and water in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Let boil until sugar is dissolved. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan as mixture rises to 250 degrees.
- Place egg whites in mixing bowl and beat to stiff peaks.
- At a medium speed, add half of the boiling sugar mixture.
- Place other half of mixture back on heat and let rise to 272 degrees.
- Once it reaches the correct temperature, add remaining sugar mixture to mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
- Beat until mixture hold stiff, glossy peaks.
- Quickly drop heaping teaspoons of divinity onto wax paper. Cool complete before putting into sealed containers.
See…I told you it wasn’t easy! Just to please my Pops.
Finally, I finished my treat day off with making a simple faux fudge. I call it faux because you don’t have to use a candy thermometer and its super easy. I personally like the texture of this fudge better than the real deal. It’s so smooth.
Mom’s Easy Microwave Fudge
- 3 cups milk chocolate chips
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Microwave mill and chips for 2-3 minutes until softened. Quickly stir in vanilla and add nuts if using. Pour into a buttered glass pan. Let cool completely before cutting.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my adventures in treat making. I hope it inspired at least one of you to make something new and share it with someone this holiday season.
In the spirit of Kimba’s recent ASTL post, I’m keepin’ it real with this last photo of my kitchen mid-treat making!
Happy cooking everyone and Merry Christmas!
I’m linking this little project up to Kimba’s DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land on Tuesday. Check her out!