Family Traditions and a Recipe

 Baking

If you don’t have some family traditions that you keep going year after year you need to get busy and develop a few! My family started a tradition of baking and candy making at Christmastime about 15 years ago. Since we subscribe to the “go big or go home” mentality, our baking and candy making consists of 3 days and results in well over 100 pounds of candy and cookies. This year we used over 45 pounds of chocolate and at least 25 pounds of nuts. We work on it for about 12-16 hours each day.

When we started the tradition my grandmother was still alive and my oldest niece wasn’t born yet. My grandmother is gone now and my oldest niece is 14 years old. 4 generations of my family have been involved in this tradition. It is a labor of love and we only do it once a year.

The men in the family usually avoid baking weekend, except my dad, who can’t get away from it since it happens at my mom and dad’s home. He usually helps by taking out trash, washing dishes, running errands, picking up dinner – the fun stuff (not). This year he helped me dip 25 pounds of almond roca. He worked in a candy factory as a teenager and at almost 84 years old he can still dip a mean piece of candy.

Over the years we have made messes, lit things on fire, suffered burns and cuts, yelled, laughed and vowed to “cut back”,  but every year we set the date and gather for baking weekend. It is a tradition that brings us together as a family and soothes our souls. We are all gratified by the enjoyment that our tradition brings to those who receive platters, plates and boxes of treats with protests of us trying to make them fat. (The bigger other people are the smaller I look – right?).

Some of the recipes we use were gifts from people we know (or don’t know), some we have made up on our own, some come from books and some are old family recipes. We play with them and have perfected them over the years – but will likely continue to play with them. We throw something new in from time to time and it seems everyone has a favorite. We keep the most popular treats in the rotation every year. One on the favorites this year was my tuxedo turtles which are easy to make. Give them a try!

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Tuxedo Turtles

2 lb bag of white chocolate disks
2 lb bag of dark chocolate disks
1 lb caramel or 1 bag of caramel
2 lb bag of pecans

Prepare an area with parchment paper or waxed paper that you can make the turtles on and allow them to dry.  Melt the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (that is the easiest way).  Stir frequently and do not over heat the chocolate or it will burn.  To make the base – Using a spoon, spread chocolate into circles about the size of a silver dollar (you remember what those look like – right) on the foil.  Place 3 or 4 pecans on the wet chocolate.  Let the base dry.  Next, heat the caramel in the microwave – stirring frequently.  If the caramel seems stiff, add just a tiny bit of heavy cream to thin it out.  Be careful not to over-thin the caramel.  You want it soft, but not runny.  It will need to set up.  Once the caramel is warm, spoon a small amount of caramel onto the base over the center of where the pecans meet.  Let this step set up/dry.  Heat the dark chocolate (same directions as the whiet chocolate) and spoon a bit of the white chocolate over the caramel.  Let the turtles dry/set-up.  You can reverse the process so the dark chocolate forms the base and it is equally pretty.  That is all there is too it.  It takes some time, but is easy and people will be so impressed that you made them yourself!