The Glace Nut Disaster


Glace Nuts

People often ask me if I ever have cooking disasters when making hundred-year-old recipes. And, I usually say, “No, that’s very rare. I like some recipes better than others, but most recipes turn out fine. A few I really like and they become part of my regular recipe repertoire, and I make  them many times.”

But today’s post is an exception – I made a hundred-year-old recipe for Glace Nuts that was a disaster.  Let me explain.

Recipe for Glace Nuts
,  Source:: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

I wasn’t quire sure about using a pin to dip the nuts in the syrup as described in the old recipe, but I had some fairly long pins so decided to give it a try. (Did they use hat pins a hundred years ago when making Glace Nuts?)

First, I put the ingredients a saucepan and brought the mixture to a boil. I regularly checked the temperature with a cooking thermometer – 240° F. . . . 264° F . . . 285 ° F . . . 296° F.  I decided that it was time to  get some waxed paper (it probably was similar to oiled paper) out to put the nuts on after I dipped them in the sugar syrup.. I put pieces of waxed paper on several plates, and then looked at the boiling syrup – oh dear, it was brown. I turned off the heat and grabbed the candy thermometer. – 320°. Maybe the syrup was only slightly discolored.

I put some cold water in the sink and lowered the saucepan into it for a few seconds. Then I put some water in the microwave to heat. When it was  hot, I poured it into a shallow pan, and then set the saucepan with the syrup in it. I inserted a pin in a walnut and carefully dipped it into the syrup; then I removed the sugar-coated walnut, and laid it on the waxed paper. I repeated the process with four more nuts – as the syrup rapidly began to thicken and then harden in the pan. Clearly not watching the cooking syrup closely enough and letting it reach a temperature of 320° was causing problems. I also noticed that the dipped nuts were sticking to the waxed paper.

I decided to make a fresh batch of the sugar syrup. Sugar doesn’t cost much. It would only take a few minutes to make the syrup, – and I’d watch it like a hawk to ensure that I took it off the stove at exactly 310°.

Twenty minutes later I had a another batch of the sugary liquid. I  put it in cold water then, then set the saucepan in some hot water. And, I inserted a pin in a nut and began dipping once again.

One nut. . two. . . three. . . four. . . five nuts. . . the syrup again began to get very thick. I inserted a pin in the sixth nut, and immersed it into the syrup. The rapidly thickening syrup began to pull the nut off the pin. I instinctively reached with my  hand to grab the nut before it fell off the pin – and my middle finger and thumb slipped into the hot sticky syrup. OUCH! I’m burned!

Dang it! My fingers hurt – but then I smiled. I always seem to have a minor crisis or disaster during the mad rush in the days before Christmas. This apparently is my disaster this year.

I do not recommend this recipe – and since I don’t recommend it, I not going to update it for modern cooks.

13 thoughts on “The Glace Nut Disaster

  1. I hope your fingers are better, but those can be quite painful. I agree with Dorothy, it is commendable you tried a second time. Pretty sure if I had been alive in 1921, I would not have made Glace Nuts then either. 🙂

  2. Ouch! We make candied nuts but instead of dipping them we pour the nuts into the sugar and stir them up and them pour onto greased foil! We end up breaking them apart with buttered hands as soon as they are cool enough to handle!

  3. I can’t figure out dipping the nuts individually. We always combined the nuts and the syrup, cooked it to the proper stage, then poured it all out onto buttered pans until they cooled and we could break them up. Anyway — I hope you’re healing quickly! That’s no fun.

  4. My goodness. It’s a shame that recipe didn’t go as planned. I hope your fingers are healing quickly.
    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! 🙂

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