The first time I opened a box of Teri Fermo’s toffee, I did a happy dance.
Toasted almonds are cooked with butter, then enveloped with chocolate and sprinkled with crushed almonds. It comes in a royal purple lock box with its very own key — perfect for keeping your stash away from children’s fingers or hungry roommates.
It has been about eight years since I first tried Fermo’s toffee and, try as I might, I haven’t come close to replicating it.
Some of you might know Fermo from her food truck, Jezebel, part of her business, Bohemia Moveable Feast. Her pizzas, egg rolls and soups are amazing, but it’s the toffee I can’t live without.
I talked to Fermo in preparation for holiday cookie and candy baking, and she thinks she knows what’s wrong with my toffee.
"You’re not getting the temperature high enough," she says. "If you don’t, it’s going to be sticking to your teeth."
So, that’s the first rule of candy making: Temperature counts. You can’t eyeball it, as I often do when cooking. A good candy thermometer will be your friend in this endeavor.
The second rule is to roast your nuts. Any candy with pecans, almonds, walnuts or any other nut will greatly benefit from a light roast either in the oven or in a sauté pan. It only takes a few minutes and it makes a big difference in taste.
Fermo has made toffee since she was 15 years old. Her grandmother loved Almond Roca candies, so Fermo found a similar recipe in a 1961 Junior League cookbook and over time created a modern, killer version of the candy.
By Christmas Eve, she’ll have made 1,000 pounds this holiday season alone.
But even after all that toffee and holiday catering, Fermo will still be cooking. Her family’s top requests: caramelized cream puffs, egg rolls, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese and, of course, toffee.
Call 918-688-2915 to order toffee. Toffee is $22 a pound.
Here’s one of my favorite Christmas candies. This is a simple recipe with no candy-making expertise required.
Chocolate Rum Truffles
Makes about 2 dozen
5 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons dark rum
Unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1. In a heavy saucepan or double boiler, melt chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat, then stir in sugar and butter a little at a time. Add rum and mix well.
2. Roll into walnut-size balls. Place on parchment paper to cool completely. Roll in cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.
New and noteworthy
It was good to see Napa Flats move into town this fall. The new restaurant has a solid menu with a little something for everyone. The Tulsa location is an offshoot from the original in College Station, Texas.
Look for good salads like the Arugula Beet Salad ($9) and Spinach Lemonette ($9), as well as a nice variety of wood-fired pizzas with fresh toppings. Oak and pecan woods are used for the grilled entrees such as Lamb Chops ($17) and Pork Tenderloin Milanese ($15).
An in-house pastry chef makes the desserts. My favorite is the Ghirardelli Brownie ($7), which is gluten-free and baked in the wood-fired oven. It’s topped with house-made peanut butter gelato.
Napa Flats, 9912 S. Riverside Parkway, 918-948-6505, www.napaflats.com
You’ve got to make it early for the best variety of sweet and savory kolaches at the Oklahoma Kolache Co.
Brooke and Matt Kelley opened the Oklahoma Kolache Co. next door to their restaurant, Lucky’s. It’s in the former space of a doughnut shop, and still gets curious customers expecting maple bars and asking, "What’s a kolache?"
Many Oklahomans know about these Czech pastries. The Oklahoma town of Prague hosts a Kolache Festival every year. But what even a seasoned kolache fan might not expect are the flavors — pork belly, blackberry jam and sage; apple and green chili; and black bean, cheese and egg, to name a few.
Oklahoma Kolache Co., 1534 E. 15th St., 918-295-8822