Note: This toffee recipe recreation was originally published on Eat Boutique. If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from paging through Liz Gutman and Jen King’s high calorie cookbook it’s that candy making is supposed to be fun. Bright colors, smiley faces and quirky images abound in The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook. My favorite image, a little turtle that declares, “nom!” appropriately graces the header of the edible turtles section. It would seem that he wholeheartedly approves of the pecan feet of his inanimate brethren and namesakes. What’s not to love?

While sass and science are both given equal playing time, the candy cookbook is not entirely fun and games, it’s a real candy education. What I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s actually set-up to resemble the visually appealing textbooks of our childhood. That means it includes an extremely thorough introduction that covers everything from tools to dipping and even troubleshooting the oh-so intimidating act of tempering temperamental chocolate. Also, I’m pretty sure I want to frame the sugar stages images that grace page 52. I’ve never seen soft ball, firm ball, and hard ball actually represented in such an approachable manner before.

Each individual recipe carefully crafted from the imagination of this Brooklyn-based duo alerts you immediately to any special equipment you will need to gather via a pretty pink callout box. More complicated actions such as assembling cherry cordials and making molded truffles are visually explained in step-by-step images. Any nerves you may harbor about trying a new recipe are quickly put to rest thanks to Liz and Jen’s upbeat attitude and instructions.

I ended up tackling the Tropical Toffee that boasts a sizable dose of rum, crunchy macadamia nuts, sweet chocolate and a pretty dusting of coconut flakes. This addictive candy is a unique twist on traditional nut brittles, and the coconut gives it a decidedly holiday appropriate appeal. Get it? It’s snowing on my candy! Since the holiday season is kicking off in a big way this week I think that If I were going to pair this treat with a festive tune it would have to be Bing Crosby’s version of Mele Kalikimaka. So I’d suggest queuing up your favorite playlist and offering a pretty wrapped box of this toffee to your favorite holiday hostess with the mostess.

Tropical Toffee
Originally published in The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking sheet
4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup light rum
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups roasted, salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped or crushed
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Generously butter the baking sheet and set it aside on a heatproof surface.

Combine the sugar, 1 pound butter, corn syrup, rum, vanilla, and sea salt in a medium-size (4-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Insert the candy thermometer.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly with the spatula, until the mixture reaches 300ºF/150º (hard crack stage), about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the baking soda and macadamia nuts, stirring vigorously (but carefully) to incorporate.

Pour the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread it evenly with the heatproof spatula. When the toffee is firm but still warm sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and spread them into a thin layer. Then dust the chocolate with toasted unsweetened coconut flakes. (Erin’s Note: I ran my coconut through the food processor for 30 seconds or so to create a finer flake). Allow the toffee to cool completely, about 2 hours, then break it into bite-size pieces.

Store the toffee, layered with parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperate for up to 1 week. It will last for 2 to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator; just allow it to come to room temperature before serving (the flavor isn’t as nice when it’s cold).

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These are actually my new go-to Christmas cookies. I’ve lost count of how many batches I’ve made. Last year I got obsessed baking everything under the sun with pistachios including this insanely good Pistachio Brittle. Then I found a recipe for pretty green Pistachio Cookies. Super cute, right? Also, insanely delicious. However, the recipe I found urged you to use a sugar cookie mix to make the cookies and that’s really not my style. Especially when there are all of seven ingredients in a traditional sugar cookie and they take maybe 5 minutes to whip up.

So I simply substituted a cookie mix for my favorite chewy sugar cookie recipe.  A package of pistachio pudding gives this dough a nice light green tint, but if you want to really amp up the festive hue then I suggest adding in a few additional drops of green food coloring. The contrast between the minty colored cookie and the bright gem tones of the cranberries is really lovely. Plus they taste ridiculously good. Santa will definitely not be gifting you with any naughty coal in your stocking if you leave a plate of these nifty treats out for him and his eight tiny reindeer.

Pistachio-Cranberry Christmas Cookies
Makes 30 cookies
Loosely based on the Cran-Pistachio cookie recipe

1 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3.4 oz package Pistachio Pudding mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour (Note: the dough will be VERY stiff kind of like play-doh)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chocolate chips
Optional: Substitute out 1/2 cup of chocolate chips for 1/2 cup of chopped pistachio nuts.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, dry pudding mix, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and combine. Pour in the cranberries and chocolate chips and process until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. The dough will be VERY stiff.

Using a 1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoon) sized cookie scoop shape the cookies and place them on a greased cookies sheet (or preferably use a silpat). Using the flattened bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass gently press the cookies to flatten them slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Allow the cookies to settle on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Quest Complete: NaBloPoMo 2012

November 30, 2012
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Well I did it. Just barely and there actually were a few cat pictures used as filler but I still officially posted to my blog every single day during the month of November. Mission NaBloPoMo accomplished! Would I ever do this again? No. Never! But I’m glad that I did and I think going forward […]

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Saving for Fancy Christmas Bourbon with Bank Simple

November 29, 2012
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Have you heard about Simple? Simple is a really cool new bank replacement. CK and I officially switched all of our really horrible old banking accounts over to Simple completely in August (after being on the waiting list for a Beta invite since June of 2010) and haven’t regretted it for a moment. We both […]

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9 Quirky Cookie Cutters

November 28, 2012
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Tonight’s post is inspired by my friend Kathy Drake. Kathy and I grew up together and originally bonded over the fact that we both wore the same lavender jacket to our kindergarten class. When we were in high school we also worked together at Dunkin Donuts and slung bagels and coffee like pros. Anyway, tonight she […]

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Peanut Butter Pinwheels

November 27, 2012
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Every so often my friend Maggie will let me create something for her beautiful website, Eat Boutique, and it always completely freaks me out. Have you ever visited?  Every lovely individual who posts over there is incredibly amazing at styling and taking food photos and I’m so not even remotely in their same league, but I […]

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Let the Christmas Pinning Obsession Begin!

November 26, 2012
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Is everyone still pinning obsessed? I know I’m not quite as addicted to Pinterest as I used to be but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t check in almost daily. That’s especially true as major holidays and events begin to loom on the horizon. A good example of this new habit occurred recently was when I found […]

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An Early Start to Christmas

November 25, 2012
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We successfully ate our way through Thanksgiving weekend although the way I feel tonight does not bode well for the dictionary definition of “successful” — to be more accurate I suppose you would probably need to say that we are stuffed to the gills and ready to be sold at auction to a portly couple sporting aprons and […]

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