Me and momI’ve been in the kitchen today, whipping up treats for Christmas parties. I’m making peanut brittle and Saltine Cracker Toffee. These recipes are so easy I almost feel like I’m cheating. Mom, on the other hand, made sugar cookies, spritz cookies, popcorn balls, brownies with hand-piped holly sprigs, and . . . peanut butter penuche!

I don’t know why we called peanut butter fudge by such a funny name, but it was my dad’s favorite. And he liked his a little grainy. This recipe is similar to what Mom made:

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugars, milk, corn syrup and salt in a heavy pan. Cook and stir continuously over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat and cook until a candy thermometer reads 234F, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Let it cool for five minutes or so, then add the vanilla and beat until the mixture loses its gloss. Pour into a biscuit pan and cool completely before cutting into squares.

Hmmm. Funny how my kid food memories are all around sugar. But as an adult, I can appreciate that those memories are so very sweet because Mom & Dad made them all about family. And now, when I crave a frosted Santa cookie, I think maybe it’s not sugar I want so much as the connection to the people who surrounded me with love in those growing up years. Because there’s nothing more delicious than that.