18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, December 22, 1913: Carrie was over this afternoon. We picked out nuts. Made taffy this evening, but it didn’t get good and the nuts were wasted.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Hmm. . . What kind of taffy did Grandma and her friend Carrie Stout make? . . . Maybe they picked black walnuts out of the shells and then made Black Walnut Taffy.
I decided to give it a try. . . and held my breath. My husband and I cracked, and picked out, some black walnuts last week-end. It was a lot of work—and I really hoped that I’d be more successful making the candy than Grandma was.
Old-fashioned Black Walnut Taffy
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped black walnuts
Combine sugar, molasses, water, and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in cream of tartar. Reduce heat and continue to boil until the mixture reaches the hard ball stage (256 degrees on a candy thermometer).
Remove from heat. Stir in butter and baking soda; then stir in the black walnuts. Pour onto a well-buttered plate or shallow bowl.
As the candy cools along the sides fold into the center.
When cool enough to handle, coat hands with butter, pull the candy using hands until color lightens, and it becomes airier and less sticky.
Shape into strips approximately 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter, and place on wax paper that has been placed on a cookie sheet. Chill slightly, then cut the candy into bit-sized pieces.
Cut rectangles of waxed paper approximately 2 inches X 4 inches. Wrap the candy in the waxed paper and twist ends.
The taffy turned out wonderfully. The two intense flavors– molasses and black walnut—merged to a more nuanced, but awesome, taste sensation. I highly recommend this taffy.
Here are the links to two previous posts that you might enjoy: