Vanilla Taffy

I have never posted this recipe. It is a family recipe that is so special to me. It may mean nothing to anyone else – probably will not. But this is one of those handed-down recipes for something not many people make at all … and there is a story to it.

My mom made this every winter, not every Christmas because this recipe depends on the weather. There has to be low humidity and in the South that usually will only happen sometime between late December and late February. So this did grace the Christmas Eve party on occasion -yes, but there was no guarantee. It is North Florida after all. We oftentimes wore shorts on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This was a recipe from my mom’s mom, Daisy, and my mom would describe how Daisy made it in the winter* and then to get the taffy hard they would toss it in the snow. We never were able to do anything like that, but it is kind of cool to understand where a recipe really comes from.

To be honest, I have never seen a recipe like this. Most people, when they think of taffy, think of salt water taffy which is soft,  but this is not. We (me and the Boy) have taken to calling it crack because when you pull it right and put enough air in it, it gets opaque and, well, looks like crack – at least the kind I have seen on Cops  (read: have no practical experience in the real stuff, but from TV, I can totally see it).DD_9068

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Necessary – candy thermometer – not kidding. Necessary.

Place sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Then cook without stirring until candy thermometer reaches 266 degrees.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until dissolved. Pour onto sil-pat lined baking sheet. When still hot, but cool-ish enough to pull, pull small bits in cords until opaque – you will burn at least your thumbs, but probably a couple of other fingers in the process. Twist into ribbons and lay on wax paper-lined baking sheet. When hard, break into pieces (just drop on baking sheet and see what happens) and wrap in cut waxed paper, or if you want to be fancy, wrap in pieces of parchment. We used waxed paper growing up, but I have taken a liking to parchment in the last few years.  

*They also butchered a pig each winter. Something I completely understand, but an not likely to be involved in.

2016 – Tomato Soup with Spinach and Mozzarella

The recipe dilemma



noun: a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.


Vanilla Taffy

How When do you decide to not share a recipe?

When is a recipe such a family treasure that you just can’t imagine that it is to be given away to the world (or in my case, the three people who might read this blog)?

It is a traitorous thing to do or is it a gift. I am seriously conflicted about this.

I have two recipes that I make because they are so much a part of my family tradition. Banana Nut Bread which my mom made every Christmas – she really had an assembly line for this because it was a gift for all her friends and very much appreciated. We had toasted banana nut bread with butter for Christmas day morning breakfast – it’s just so damn special. So do I share?

The other is my grandmother’s (my mom’s mom) recipe for vanilla taffy. It is everything to me, but I just can’t decide if I want other people making it. Is that weird? Probably. I know some people hold on to recipes and don’t share. Now, I think I understand that. But it is still strange. I want to share, but then again, I just don’t want to either.

More thinking on this will be involved. I’m still conflicted, but maybe that’s a good thing.