Hundred-year-old Chocolate Mint Fudge Recipe

Chocolate and mint combine beautifully to create delectable taste treats – think Girl Scout cookies, and mint chocolate chip ice cream – so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe in a vintage issue of Good Housekeeping for Chocolate Mint Fudge. This lovely fudge has just the right amount of chocolate and mint to create a delightful candy.

The Chocolate Mint Fudge recipe calls for Mint Syrup. Both the Fudge and Mint Syrup recipes were provided in the old magazine.

Here are the original recipes:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

Here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Chocolate Mint Fudge

  • Servings: 25-30 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Chocolate Mint Fudge

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter, melted

4 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup mint syrup (see recipe below)

Put cocoa in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the milk and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Put butter, brown sugar, the remaining milk, and mint syrup in a mixing bowl stir to combine. Put in a saucepan and using medium heat bring to a boil. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Reduce and gently boil until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (238° F.). Put saucepan in cold water, and beat the fudge mixture until it thickens. Put into a 8 inch X 8 inch buttered pan. (If desired, line with parchment paper to make it easier to remove fudge). When cool, cut into pieces and remove from pan.

Mint Syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; then add the mint leaves. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; strain and cool.

Cook’s note: This recipe makes more Mint Syrup than is needed for the Mint Chocolate Fudge. Extra syrup can be used in coffee or tea, or in other recipes.

Hundred-year-old Panocha Recipe

When it comes to holiday cooking at my house, old-fashioned candies are a “must make,” so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old Panocha recipe.

Panocha is a delightful old-fashioned brown sugar fudge with the typical walnuts.

Sometimes I have issues with fudge, but this recipe was quick and easy to make. The Panocha was creamy with a nice caramel flavor,

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Text-book of Cooking (1915) by Carlotta Greer

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Panocha

  • Servings: 20-25 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups light brown sugar

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Combine brown sugar and milk in saucepan; add cream of tartar and stir. Continue stirring while heating over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Quit stirring and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and continue boiling (without stirring) until candy reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees F.) (about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in butter and remove from heat, beat until the mixture thickens. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a buttered 8 X 8 inch pan. When cool, cut into pieces.

Caramels: Comparison of Old and Modern Recipes

caramels
The caramels with walnuts were made using the hundred-year-old recipe. The other caramels were made using the modern recipe.

The holidays are a time for family fun, so when my daughter was recently home for Thanksgiving we decided that it was time for another post that compares a hundred-year-old recipe with a modern one. This year we decided to make Caramels.

I made a Caramel recipe from a hundred-year-old magazine that listed nuts, preferably black walnuts, as an ingredient. My daughter made a Caramel recipe that did not call for nuts from Sally’s Baking Addiction called Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels.

My recipe called for brown sugar. The modern recipe used three sweets: brown sugar, white sugar, and light corn syrup. It included a note which said that corn syrup is “a controversial ingredient, for sure, but an imperative one for making candy as it prevents crystallization and keeps the caramels smooth as silk.”

The Verdict: The two candies were both good, but very different from each other.

The modern recipe was delectable. The Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels were smooth and creamy, and melted in my mouth. If you want a great Caramel recipe, I strongly recommend clicking on the link and going to Sally’s website for her recipe.

On the other hand, the  hundred-year-old Caramel recipe made a candy that barely seemed like a caramel. It tasted more like a praline. If, by chance,  you are looking for a delightful walnut praline recipe, the old recipe is the recipe for you.

The hundred-year-old recipe included a warning, “These directions must be followed to the letter.”  I tried my best to follow them to the letter, but apparently failed since I think that the caramel may have partially “crystalized” (or perhaps a caramel a hundred-years-ago was different from a modern caramel).

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)

Here’s my version of the hundred-year-old recipe updated for modern cooks. (I made half of the original recipe.)

Caramels

  • Servings: approximately 50 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 pound light-brown sugar (2 cups, packed)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

1 cup chopped nuts, preferably black walnuts

Prepare a 8 inch by 8 inch square pan by lining it with foil, and then buttering the foil.  Set aside.

Put the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a large, heavy saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat so that there is a slow rolling boil. Continue to stir until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage (245 – 248° F.). This can also be tested by dropping a small amount of the hot mixture into ice-cold water. It is done when a caramel-textured ball is formed. Add nuts before removing from the heat. Remove spoon from mixture while still boiling to prevent crystallization.

Quickly pour into the prepared pan. Scrape what remains into another dish. When cool turn onto a cookie sheet or board.  Cut into bite-sized pieces. If desired, wrap caramels in waxed paper.

walnut-caramel

Should We Eat Candy?

Sour Cream Fudge
Sour Cream Fudge

I like candy, but always feel guilty when I eat it, so I was pleased to discover hundred-year-old advice on the role of candy in the diet.

The Use of Candy in the Diet

Candy is an energy-giving food, but, unfortunately perhaps, it is not (at all times) a most desirable energy-giving food. Sugar exists in candy in concentrated form. In this condition, sugar is irritating to the organs of digestion.

Sugar is contained in large quantity in some fruits, especially in dried fruits, figs, dates, prunes, etc. These fruits are a much better source of sweets for children than is candy, because they do not contain as much sugar, and have, in addition, valuable food materials in the form of ash.

Candy should never be used to excess. A little eaten at the end of a meal is not harmful to a normal person. At that time the sugar does not come in direct contact with the walls of the alimentary canal, as it would if eaten between meals.

A Text-Book of Cooking by Carlotta C. Greer (1915)

The quote mentions “ash” in fruits. Ash is an old-time term for the minerals in foods.

Nutmeg Fudge Recipe

Nutmeg fudge picture

I love fudge, and when I saw a recipe for Nutmeg Fudge in a hundred-year-old magazine I just had to try to try it.

The verdict—The fudge was wonderfully smooth and creamy. I noticed unexpected nutmeg undertones when taking the first nibble, but then the warm, spicy hint of nutmeg balanced nicely with the sugar to create a fudge that was less sweet than many fudges.

Nutmeg Fudge

  • Servings: approximately 25 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups light-brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoonful nutmeg

Combine brown sugar, milk, cream, and melted chocolate in a heavy saucepan. Using medium heat, heat until the mixture just begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (235° F.). Remove from heat; then stir in butter, salt, and nutmeg.

Cool until lukewarm; then stir vigorously until the mixture becomes creamy and begins to thicken. Pour into a small buttered pan (6” X 6”). When firm cut into squares.

Adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)

Old Opera Cremes Recipe

Opera Cremes

I recently flipped through the pages of the October, 1915 issue of Good Housekeeping and came across this recipe for Opera Cremes. This beautiful, delectable treat is one of the best homemade candies I’ve ever made. The pecans and creamy sweetness blend wonderfully to create a decadent taste sensation.

I don’t know for sure why they are called Opera Cremes, but I do know that a hundred years ago almost every town—even small ones– had an opera house.

When my grandmother was a teen in central Pennsylvania, she sometimes mentioned going to the opera house in Watsontown in her diary. For example, on February 28, 1914 she wrote:

Ruth and I went up to Watsontown with Pa this evening. The senior class gave their play in the opera house. Was the best one I ever was to. Some parts certainly did call forth plenty of laughter. Can hardly begin to describe how much I enjoyed it.

Helena Muffly

Hmm . . . maybe between their laughs, they found time to enjoy a few Opera Cremes.

Opera Creams

3 cups sugar

1 cup cream

1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup chopped pecans

approximately 4 dozen whole pecan halves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cream, and cream of tartar until well blended. Using medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to low, and cook about 7 minutes without stirring until a very soft ball (237 degrees F.) is formed when tried in cold water. Remove from the heat.

Allow to cool for a few minutes. When tepid, stir in the vanilla and beat until creamy, then turn out on a board that is slightly dredged with confectioners’ sugar, and knead until smooth, working in the chopped pecans at the same time. Spread out in a shallow buttered pan, press on the pecan halves. Cool and cut into squares. Can also be shaped into bonbons.

Shh .. . .  don’t tell my friends, but I’m already planning to make Opera Cremes again in December to give as gifts.

Old-fashioned Black Walnut Taffy Recipe

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.

Grandma had problems, but my taffy turned out great.
Grandma had problems, but my taffy turned out great.
The taffy before I wrapped it.
The taffy before I wrapped it.

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:

How to Crack Black Walnuts

Old-fashioned Sugar Taffy