Old-fashioned Honey and Cocoa Cushions Candy

Pieces of Honey and Cocoa Cushions Candy

Ever wonder how to make a homemade candy that tastes similar to Tootsie Rolls? Well, I had never even thought about making Tootsie Rolls, but when I made a hundred-year-old candy recipe for Honey and Cocoa Cushions, I was surprised to discover that they tasted very similar to Tootsie Rolls.

Honey is the only sweetener called for in the Honey and Cocoa Cushions recipe, so it may be a tad healthier than many candies (at least that is what I tell myself when I nibble on the candies).

It is tricky getting this candy cooked to exactly the right stage, but similarly to taffy, it needs to be pulled, which can be a fun family activity.

pulling candy

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Honey and Cocoa Cushions
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Autumn, 1920)

The ingredients list calls for a pinch of baking soda, though it is never actually mentioned in the directions. I assumed that it was combined with the cocoa and water when the thick paste was made. I generally try to avoid using old-fashioned terms like “pinch” when updating recipes – but couldn’t figure out what other term to use for the small amount of baking soda required in this recipe, so kept the original terminology and used the word “pinch” in the updated recipe.

The original recipe calls for cooking the mixture to the soft ball stage. When I made the recipe, the candy didn’t seem firm enough to pull when cooked to the soft ball stage, so I cooked it to the hard ball stage.

The original recipe also calls for cooking the mixture in an iron frying pan. When I poured 1 cup of honey into my 14-inch cast iron skillet, it barely covered the bottom of the pan, so I ended up doubling the recipe. Another option would be to use a smaller pan that is approximately 8-inches in diameter.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Honey and Cocoa Cushions Candy

  • Servings: about 20 pieces of candy
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print

(I doubled this recipe when I made it, and used a full-size cast iron frying pan.)

1 cup honey

1/4 cup cocoa

a pinch of baking soda

1+ tablespoon water

Put the cocoa and baking soda in a small bowl. Add water and stir to make a very thick smooth paste. (A small amount of additional water may need to be added to create the paste.) Set aside.

Put honey in a small cast iron skillet (about 8 inches in diameter). Using low heat, bring to a slow boil. Add the cocoa paste, and continue boiling while stirring constantly. Boil until it reaches the firm-ball stage. The firm-ball stage is when a small amount of the syrup is dropped into cold water. If it can be gathered together to form a firm ball (though malleable when pressed), it is at the right stage—or just use a candy thermometer (255 – 265 degrees F).

Remove from heat and pour onto a buttered platter. Let cool until it is cool enough to be handled. Then butter hands and pull the candy until it becomes cold and glossy (about 5 – 10 minutes). Form long thin strips of the candy and place on waxed paper; then cut with a buttered knife or scissors into pieces approximately 1/2 inch long.  If desired, the pieces can be wrapped in squares of waxed paper.


46 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Honey and Cocoa Cushions Candy

    1. Oh, yes! They’re still one of my favorite candies. There are some images and an interesting history here. I didn’t realize that the creator named them after his daughter, whose nickname was “Tootsie.” They go back to 1908.

        1. I associate Tootsie Rolls with parades. In the U.S. when there are parades, people on the floats often throw Tootsie Rolls and other candies to children watching the parade. I think they frequently choose to throw Tootsie Rolls because they are an inexpensive, individually wrapped, small candy.

    2. Tootsie Rolls are a taffy-like chocolate candy. We’ve identified another food difference across our two counties! We must must be up to at least 15 or 20 things by now. 🙂

        1. Wow, I would have thought taffy was a common candy everywhere – but then I looked at Wikipedia. It says, as you suggested, that it’s an American food. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

          “Taffy is a type of candy invented in the United States, made by stretching or pulling a sticky mass of boiled sugar, butter or vegetable oil, flavorings, and colorings, until it becomes aerated (tiny air bubbles produced), resulting in a light, fluffy and chewy candy.”

  1. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much fun taffy pulls were. I didn’t realize there were other “pulled” candies, but if this one tastes akin to Tootsie Rolls, it would be worth trying.

    1. I also thought that it seemed like an unusual name, though when I look at the photo I took of these candies, if I use my imagination, I can almost see that they look a bit like cushions. I failed to get the pieces square – and they sort of look like tiny plumped cushions.

    1. A candy thermometer definity helps ensure that the candy is cooked to the right stage – though I find that I still “double check” that the thermometer is right by using the old-fashioned drop a little hot syrup in cold water test.

  2. The use of an iron cast pan was a nice surprise! Hubby’s mom could cook up a marvelous batch of taffy ,hers always got so creamy and fluffy after we got through pulling it. … mine.. sorry case!😏

    1. I think that candy making is a learned skill. Everytime I make a candy, I think that I should make candy more often so that I develop a better sense of exactly how long to cook the syrup, how to avoid crystalization, etc. – but then I think about how I try not to eat very many sweets and probably won’t make candy again for a long time. 🙂

  3. Even though this looks easy, it must have taken quite some skill to prepare those candies. Those candies look so yummy! This is a completely unique recipe that i have come across and will definitely try my hand at it!

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