When I was a child, little teasing bits of my mom's holiday toffee would show up in my normally sugar-starved lunch bag during the last week before school let out. Then, during our annual Christmas Eve tamale party, huge plates of the stuff would appear, shards of toffee piled high like poker chips.
Years later, when I brought the sweet-toothed man who would eventually become my husband to his first tamale party, I am certain it was the tower of toffee that sealed the deal.
Though I moved across the country fifteen years ago, she hasn't missed a single season of toffee. These days, Mom mails it to us, wrapped in little cellophane bags. As far as Maxwell is concerned, his wish list is fulfilled.
If you can stand to share, a batch of Skillet Toffee makes a great gift for someone many zip codes away.
makes about 2 1/4 pounds
1 pound unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup chopped toasted blanched almonds
Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch x 15-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. As the butter melts, stir in the sugar and salt. Continue stirring constantly and rapidly with a wooden spoon, keeping the sides of pan clean by brushing occasionally with a wet pastry brush. The mixture should bubble as you stir. Cook until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle the mixture with the chocolate. When the chocolate looks glossy, spread it with an offset cake spatula or a wooden spatula, and sprinkle with the nuts. Gently press the nuts into the chocolate with the palms of your hands.
Cool completely (at least 6 hours) then break the toffee into chunks.
More Candy Recipes from The Kitchn
• DIY Peppermint Patties
• A Recipe from Provence: Nougat de Montélimar
• Ginger Cinnamon Caramels
• Chocolate Toffee Matzo Candy
• Fluffy Vanilla Marshmallows
• Recipe: D.I.Y. Buckeyes
• Cocoa Molasses Toffee
• D.I.Y. Candied Lemon Peel
(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)