Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mama Clara's Toffee

I didn't get to know my dad's mom very well. I heard frequently growing up that I was just like her - and not in a good way. I grew up and she grew older, slowing down enough to stay in the country long enough for me to visit with her. The more I got to know Mama Clara, the more I realized that everyone was right. I was just like her. But it wasn't until after she passed away at the grand age of 93 that I really got to know her.

As her last surviving child, my dad was the executor of her estate. We kids helped him go through her personal effects. I discovered that like me, she enjoyed needlework. Who knew that my hyperactive, never-sit-still grandmother enjoyed knitting and embroidery? Also, she had a passion for collecting recipes and cookbooks, and like me, she preferred collecting recipes for sweets. My dad pointed out that the recipe that had netted me my very first blue ribbon from the Florida State Fair had come from Mama Clara. So when it came time to find a home for her cookbooks, my dad made sure that I got them. He had a vested interest in making sure his little girl could cook like his Mama!

The recipes that I inherited from her run the gamut of types, but one thing they have in common is that there are more winners than losers among them. Many of her recipes, with her notes scrawled in pencil beside them, have become staples for my family to enjoy. In the ten years since she passed away, I have explored her passions for sweet treats and breads. One of her recipes has become so popular in my house that my husband says it's as "addictive as crack" and acts more like a kid than our children when he sees me pull out the recipe for Mama Clara's Toffee. He'll shoo the children from the kitchen until the alchemy changing mere butter and sugar into the golden treat is complete. Then he takes his box of toffee and hides it on the top shelf in our bedroom.

In the spirit of the Holidays, I'd like to share this recipe with the friends and family who won't be here to wrestle my husband for a piece. Enjoy!

Mama Clara's Toffee
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 Tblsp light corn syrup
1 Tblsp water
1/2 cup milk chocolate
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter in large saucepan over med heat. Add sugar, syrup and water. Stir well. Heat to 300 on candy thermometer (hard crack stage) stirring occasionally.

Pour into buttered 13 x 9 pan.

Cool slightly, then sprinkle 1/2 cup milk chocolate over top. Cover with pan to melt chocolate. Spread evenly over top and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Cool completely and break apart.