Holiday Chef Series: Matt Roach

We asked our chefs to share their holiday traditions and memories with us, and we’ve created a Holiday Chef Series from all of their submissions. Our series features family recipes, photographs, cherished moments, favorite holiday dishes, and more. We hope you enjoy!

“Making taffy was a holiday tradition in my house. The toughest part is the pulling of the taffy; it is a critical step but was exhausting. My mom soon realized that kids love to make a mess and play so she would get all the kids in the neighborhood to help out. Two kids would be on each flavor, and in no time it was ready to roll into ropes, cut, and wrap. To this day, buttered hands and working with hot candy brings back all of those memories!” – Matt Roach, Senior Executive Chef at Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Lemon Pound Cake Taffy

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1⅛ teaspoon glycerin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon extract/flavoring
  • 3 drops food coloring (optional)
  1. Grease a marble slab or cookie sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch, then stir in the corn syrup, water, glycerin, and salt. Mix well over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stop stirring and insert your candy thermometer. Brush the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush if you see sugar crystals.
  3. Continue to cook until it reaches 254°F. Swiftly remove from heat and add your baking soda, flavoring, and food coloring. Mix to combine. To make the lemon pound cake flavor I did, you need a scant ½ teaspoon lemon extract, ½ teaspoon butter extract, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the sugar mixture on your greased slab or pan and wait until it is cool enough to touch. Roughly 5 – 10 minutes. To speed up the process, you can use a bench scraper to fold the sugar mixture over itself and also begin letting air into the mixture.
  5. Once it is cool, lightly grease your hands if desired and begin pulling, folding the candy over itself, and pulling more. You need to pull the taffy at a vigorous pace for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Pull the taffy into a long, thin rope and use your kitchen scissors or a knife to cut out your pieces. Wrap them individually in wax paper. Enjoy!