Friday, December 29, 2006

Sweetness

"In this strange season when we are suspended between realization and expectation, may we be found honest about darkness, more perceptive of the light." (Jack Boozer, quoted in Night Visions by Jan Richardson)















Last night I delivered my last Christmas gifts: these cute star-shaped boxes that I decorated and filled with my famous homemade toffee (recipe to follow). These were paper mache boxes I bought on clearance years ago and swore I would decorate and use this year. So I spray painted them silver and stamped them with swirls, stars, and the word "believe" in blue and sparkly silver, then glued on blue ribbon the side of the lids. My favorite part was the packaging: I wrapped them in bridal illusion tulle. Pretty, aren't they?

Even though I have the flu or strep or some sort of throat infection, I went out with my girlfriends last night, because Virginia was in town from California and I only get to see her once a year. (That's me with her at left. She is beautiful, I think.) She's strugging with whether or not to break off her engagement, so she needed some quality time with our former women's group. Lourdes, Suzanne and Staci also made it to Caro Mio, a great Italian restaurant near my house.

The toffee recipe is from my mom, but I've become the family toffee maker. I probably do at least 6 or 8 batches a year, and everyone from my work has come to expect it every Christmas. People are always impressed, but it's really very easy. You just need a candy thermometer.

Heidi's Toffee:

2 sticks of butter, unsalted
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Karo white corn syrup
3 Tbsp. water.
Chocolate chips
Nuts (optional)

Melt butter on medium heat in saucepain. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir and cook on medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees on candy thermometer. Watch very carefully and stir constantly after 280 degrees. Immediately revmove from heat and pour onto cookie sheets; tilt to make as thin as possible. Let sit for a few minutes till solid, but not cool, then top with chocolate chips. When they melt, spread chocolate. Add chopped nuts, if desired. (I usually don't do nuts because so many people are allergic or don't like them.) Let cool overnight or for several hours. Break into pieces.

The trick is not to cook it past 300 or it's too hard, or not to undercook it or it's crumbly. Every couple years someone in our family claims to get the "toffee curse" and it won't turn out. One year I accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Usually the culprit is an inaccurate candy thermometer.

Finally, a meme from the Sew Mad blog (whose book happened to be in German!). I don't usually do these, but this was kind of interesting and weird:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people

Here it is: "You already taste the way things must be. The other thing that made Mrs. Sen happy was fish from the seaside. It was always a whole fish she desired, not shelfish, or the fillets Eliot's mother had broiled one night a few months ago when she'd invited a man from her office to dinner--the man who'd spent the night in his mother's bedroom, but whom Eliot never saw again." (Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri)

Consider yourself tagged.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tried your toffe this year and I thought it was delicious :)

I'll have to grab a book and participate in your tag, I have done nothing but run around this week--no blog time booo hoooo, so this will give me a little topic!

I'm glad you had a chance to be with your old girlfriends, I miss doing that with everyone scattered across the country!

lucy

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi: Hope you're feeling better by tomorrow. The stars are beautiful. Mom brought your toffee for me at Christmas--thanks so much I didn't make any this year. I love reading your blog--it is always very interesting, and not just because I know you so well as my sister. I also love catching your typos because they are usually either humorous (add flower) or Freudian-slippy (saucepain). And even though I don't blog, I'll play your game: "I had won my way into their world at school, but outside school they certainly were not accustomed to having an adult like me nosing around in their lives. There was a new awkwardness between us that had to be overcome. I was ready to launch the next stage of my story, to explore their private worlds, find out what made them tick." (A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence, Patrician Hersch)

Anonymous said...

I love that quote at the start of this post - wow.

madhatter said...

wow, how cool is it to find your meme in another blog!?
thanks for sharing!