During the Christmas season, when I was a little girl, my mom would make batches and batches of caramel, fudge, toffee and other such treats to take to our neighbors and friends (sometimes these drop-offs actually included caroling, too). I remember the caramel being so mesmerizing as the bubbling sugars transformed to caramel when my mom added cream and vanilla. I loved licking (and still do) the spatula after my mom spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. And so on and so on.
Eventually, I learned how to make all of these treats. In my teen years, toffee making became a source of income for me during the Christmas season. My mom’s best friend, Sydne, is an incredible florist who hosted a holiday boutique every year and she let me sell my toffee at it. Then, after I went off to college and my mom died, I kind of gave up on the toffee making. Every couple of years I’d make a batch at a sibling’s request, but other than that, it just wasn’t my thing.
Then last year, as Monica and I were trying to decide what to give some professors who were volunteering for an activity, and stay within our very limited budget, I suggested that we could make toffee. So, with Monica’s help the toffee making was on. I don’t remember how many batches we made, but I do remember learning that stirring the toffee as it was cooking was not only unnecessary, it actually didn’t help. (The hours and hours of stirring I wasted in my teenage years…) I also discovered my favorite kitchen tool ever, which is not a kitchen tool at all; a laser thermometer. I will never use a candy thermometer again. (Thank you to Justin and Cherity yet again for the fabulous birthday gift last year!)
Fast forward to this year. I decided that I would be making toffee for my coworkers. So, a couple of weeks ago, I did a test batch. I had to try out making toffee on my little stove with my pot in a different climate. As I said, execution can be a little tricky. It turned out great! Since then, I have made five batches with only one more to go.
And here’s where the love comes in. Whenever I do anything that I learned from my mom, it reminds me how lucky I was to have her, even if it wasn’t for nearly long enough. And as strange as this may sound, I can feel how much she loved me whenever I’m doing anything that reminds me of her. She taught me so much in the short 18 years I got to have her around.
While I’ve obviously learned a lot in the 15 years since she’s been gone, who I am today is a direct result of who she was. She didn’t just teach me how to cook. She taught me about generosity and thoughtfulness as we cooked treats for our neighbors and friends. She taught me love and patience, through her example, as she took the time to teach me how to do something that she could have done much faster on her own. And finally, she taught me that the only way to learn is to try and keep trying until you get it right.
And now the giveaway. Leave a comment for a chance to win a bag of toffee to be sent directly to you from me (or a holiday mix cd should toffee not be your thing or should you be concerned about getting candy through the mail). The winner will be chosen on Sunday, so you’ve got some time…and I will use a random number generator to make sure that it’s fair.
I love having this with a gruyere cheese and make it a good afternoon meal. Lovely photos in here.
I can't believe I've never heard of a laser thermometer. Genius! I'm going to have to try one out.
Chloe! I would love some toffee! I loved reading about your mom~I miss her sometimes and think about what her and my mom would be doing together at this time in their lives. I know she is still with us and my mom feels her presence sometimes and that makes me happy!You are awesome for getting back at it and you even learned something new! I love you and u better pick me! Xo
Yummy!!!! I want some toffee. 🙂
I've tried to make toffee on a number of occassions and failed miserably.
mmmm, toffee – yum!
What a sweet post. Your Mom sounds amazing…hang on tight to those wonderful memories.Merry Christmas!
oh, and i have a little tip on the toffee if you want one 🙂
i know that christmas was your mom's favorite holiday! your words make me realize the things i need to change in my own motherhood. we just had mom's boutique last weekend… and I got to do the toffee 🙂 mom always misses kim at this time of year!love you and miss you!
um…i love toffee.
I've been eating Christmas cookies all day, but you know, why not add some toffee to the mix?
Can I just get some on Saturday? 🙂
Can I please be the lucky one?!!?
Yum. Toffee from Chloe? Sign me up.
I would LOVE some toffee. Even if I don't win, I think I will try making some.
ooh ooh! pick me.
Hooray! I would love some toffee Chloe. And I loved reading this post too.
I remember hearing such great stories about your mom from Alicia. You were so lucky to have such a wonderful mother! I love toffe, my mom tops hers with semi sweet chocolate and it's heaven! (And I've yet to meet a man who doesn't love it!)
Hey, I was just looking up madeleine pans on Williams-Sonoma and thought of you, and then I saw through facebook that you had a giveaway here. And I love toffee too. 🙂 Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.
yes. i need some of your toffee! love yesterday's post by the way. such a good reminder to slow down in life and remember the meaning of the season, etc. thanks for writing it!
I will take both the toffee and the mix cd . . . and maybe the toffee recipe too – although I don't want to be greedy.
You should really be a food photographer—actually I really enjoy looking at all of your pictures. I wasted about 29 years of my life refusing to try toffee, how ridiculous is that? I think that I have always associated it with my Grandma, she always seemed to have a tin of it sitting in her house. I considered it a geriatric snack.Also in the face of the choice between indulging in chocolate or toffee, I ALWAYS opted for chocolate. I think that when I hit 30, I finally tried it, (I know, very *courageous* of me) and I fell madly in love with it. And toffee with chocolate is one of the most magical culinary marriages in existence. I am proud to say that: "I am 31 and I am a toffee addict"–especially if it is coupled with chocolate.I would love your recipe……or even better a package of your toffee in the mail. Actually, I would still just love the recipe.Merry Christmas!xoxo
YUM! I want some. Your words about your mom were so sweet and reminded me to try to be more patient… especially when my kids want to "cook" with me! Thanks. And Merry Christmas