By Lorraine Manglos
About 25 years ago my husband started his own business. Not having much money for gifts at Christmas time, I made an almond toffee candy that he distributed to his clients. I made about 2-3 batches and that covered all the clients. As the years passed, candy production went up to 10 batches and then about 25 batches. Every year I said I wouldn’t do it again but the clients would ask when the toffee would be delivered. What can I say, I’m a people pleaser.
You would think I’ve acquired wisdom or common sense, but no, it has become more and more crazy. I rarely make the toffee anymore. Now, I make close to 100 platters of every type of cookie, candy, bark, petit fours, and the showstopper sugar cookie that is elaborately hand decorated. I usually finish with well over a thousand items. Did I mention that everything is baked in 1 weekend or that I’m a perfectionist? Crazy, right?
But here is the challenge: to plan, shop, design, and schedule how to produce and assemble all these baked goodies for delivery on the Sunday afternoon of the baking weekend. I did have a secret weapon these last 5 or 6 years, her name is Lara, my extremely talented and lovely niece. Years ago I started teaching her how to bake. She is like an extension of me, but so much more artistic. We had this ying and yang thing going. I would assign her items that worked with her strengths and I would work within my expertise. About 2 years ago my son, Andrew started helping out during our baking weekend. I loved hearing Lara teaching him all the tips and techniques that I had taught her so many years ago. Andrew has just become engaged to the lovely Alex and she will be assisting this year. I hope we don’t scare her off.
What this all comes down to is the gift of giving of ourselves, making a unique gift, for those in our lives who have blessed us throughout the year. We have learned this from God the Father, who gave the greatest gift ever, Jesus, our Emmanuel, God with us.
And what kind of blog would we be if we didn’t include the aforementioned toffee recipe (This is Jen here, sadly, I never appreciated the glory that is mom’s toffee until she stopped making it, luckily she still makes her famous peanut butter buckeyes and cranberry bliss bar):
Lorraine’s Almond Toffee
1 pound of butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups chocolate chips
2 cups chopped almonds
Melt butter in medium size saucepan, add sugar and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the mixture becomes mahogany color. Make sure to constantly stir so you don’t burn the candy.
Have 2 cookie sheets ready. When candy has reached the mahogany color immediately pour unto the 2 cookie sheets and tilt the cookie sheets to thin out the candy.
Sprinkle 2 cups of chocolate chips on each cookie sheet and let it sit for about 5 minutes till it melts*. Using a knife or spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the candy.
Sprinkle almonds over the candy and lightly press them into the chocolate. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Break into chunks.
*If the chocolate chips don’t melt, place in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.