In my younger days, I always made lots of homemade Christmas candies and various treats for giving to friends and family members. Mac would take care of decorating the outside of the house.

Then after he put the lights around our Christmas tree, it would take me three days to fully finish hanging all the ornaments on it.

It was also my responsibility to oversee the Christmas decorating of the inside of our home. There were also lots of gifts to be wrapped. Even though I worked, I could accomplish much more in those days then I can possibly in the present time.

On a weekend before Christmas, family on both sides of Mac’s and mine would gather in our home. I would make a huge pot of shrimp & crab gumbo. There would be a buffet style table loaded with sandwich makings for those that may not care for seafood (a rarity), condiments and a variety of dips, chips, cheeses, cakes, cookies, candies, etc. Punch, Wassail, soda waters and coffee were the drinks of choice.

Traditionally following the opening of the presents, we would gather in the garage for the children to break open a Christmas piñata full of candy and coins. One time (and I cannot remember who) one of the children would not participate because they did not want to hit “Santa Claus” (the piñata). After that I carefully selected some sort of neutral structured piñata. One year I rented the roller skate rink for the children (and some of the adults).

Several years ago, I divided most of my Christmas decorations between my children and kept only a minimum for myself. I now have a store bought three foot fiber optic Christmas tree that sits on my kitchen counter plus a few other Christmas items scattered about the house. Times certainly have changed and now I spend Christmas however my children tell me we will. I go along with their traditions.

I have not made this week’s candy recipe yet because I am going to need more pecans than I have on hand. However, I do believe it to be a KEEPER.

TOASTED PECAN TOFFEE

Servings: 20
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into chunks
1 ½ cups sugar
3 Tbsp. corn syrup (I personally prefer white)
3 Tbsp. water
2 cups chopped pecans
8 oz. chocolate, cut into chunks

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium/medium-low heat, add butter. Wait 2 minutes, or until the butter really starts to soften and melt. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook, stirring regularly until the mixture is bubbling and the candy thermometer hits 300º F. Remove from heat and stir in 1 ½ cups pecans.

Pour hot toffee out onto the prepared baking sheet. Depending on how thick you like your toffee, spread it out on the sheet. Set aside to cool.

While the toffee is cooling, melt the chocolate in microwave-safe bowl, heating in 20-second increments and stirring with a plastic spoon or spatula until smooth. Be sure toffee has set up before spreading the melted chocolate over the top. Immediately sprinkle with remaining ½ cup chopped pecans.

Let toffee set for 20 minutes or until chocolate has firmed up. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Happy birthday Jesus. Merry Christmas Everyone.

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