My husband Charlie does not believe in multi-tasking. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, he holds firm to the belief that no one can do two things at once, not even women.
The problem started when my cousin Judy Young brought over a plate of delicious homemade treats, including toffee. I gobbled down the toffee before the kids could get home from school, and in a moment of guilt, decided to add toffee to my list of holiday baking, scheduled for this past Saturday.
Saturday morning: I search allrecipes.com for a toffee recipe. Select one. Assemble the ingredients. Begin making toffee in one pan, and fudge in another pan, with peanut brittle standing by. I realize halfway into melting the butter that I do not have enough sugar. Turn everything off and head to Walmart.
An hour later, I am home and ready to start again. Charlie wonders if I am trying to do too much. I assure him that I am a fudge-making expert, and toffee looks pretty simple. No problem.
As I am stirring the toffee ingredients, they begin to thicken. I reread the recipe, and all the reviews, which all suggest following the recipe exactly. Except for the hour I took at the store, I have followed the instructions. I keep asking myself, “How hard can this be?”
Then I notice the fudge. It looks too runny. I think back, trying to see where I might have mis-stepped, when I realize I used the wrong size can of evaporated milk. Doing the math in my head, I figure that I need to quadruple the recipe to make up for that tiny mistake. Check the toffee, which has separated into an oily slick lying on top of crystallized sugar. Hmm. It looks nothing like toffee.
I send Charlie to the store for more fudge ingredients and more butter for toffee. After all, how hard can it be?
“How much fudge are you making?” he asks innocently.
While Charlie is at the store, I Google toffee recipes, and they are all exactly the same. Then I find a video on YouTube, and daughter Lexi and I watch it together.
“That looks like grandma,” she points out.
In just under five minutes, the grandma in the video has turned out a beautiful tray of toffee.
“That didn’t take as long as your toffee,” Lexi comments innocently.
We watch the video again, and Charlie arrives to save the day.
I decide to finish the fudge before giving my undivided attention to another batch of toffee. Three huge pans later, the fudge sits cooling, and Lexi and I prop the iPad next to the stove to make toffee along with the video grandma.
The first two steps go easily. Since there are only three steps involved, I figure we’ve got it made. But suddenly, grandma is saying that her toffee is turning golden brown. Our butter and sugar is still pale. We stop the video to catch up, and just as suddenly, our toffee separates and turns into an oily, sugary blob.
“What did you do?” Lexi asks, befuddled.
I dump the mass onto the waiting pan and remember vaguely a time 20 years ago, when I made toffee the last time. It had the same ending, and I recall exactly why I never make toffee.
Charlie wanders through the kitchen, wondering if I should have given the toffee my full attention. I assure him that I paid complete attention the second time, to no avail. With confidence shot, I decide to wait on the peanut brittle.
So, if anyone loves fudge, let me know. I can get you a plate of the creamiest, best tasting fudge ever. And if anyone has any extra toffee….