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Archive for the ‘Candy’ Category

postheadericon Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (aka Moshee, Moche, Mozhy among others; meaning molasses related), a hard molasses candy, is a Coal Region favorite often sold at bake sales and fundraisers. It always seems to sell out quickly and people often request the recipe here. Many people fondly remember their grandmother or mother making it. It can be poured in a flat pan and broken in pieces to eat once hardened or, as was popular for bake sales, poured into muffin tins making “individual” pieces that could be easily wrapped and sold. You can keep it plain or sprinkle it with chopped walnuts, peanuts, shredded coconut or a mixture of them to your liking.

Back in “the day”, folks often got their molasses at the company or general store. It would be in a large barrel; the cook would take an empty jar to the store where it would be filled with molasses from the barrel – hence “barrel molasses”. Today’s equivalent would be unsulphured baking molasses (not blackstrap molasses).

I have two Mozhee recipes and will share them both with you. One is an old recipe that lists “barrel molasses” as an ingredient which will yield a stronger flavored candy (some people find it a bit bitter), the other is from a Pa Dutch cookbook and uses table syrup (like King’s Table Syrup or Turkey Brand Table Syrup) which yields a milder tasting candy. I will include both versions in this post. The basic method of preparation is similar for either.

Mozhee needs to be cooked to what is known in the candy making world as the “hard crack” stage – 300 to 310 F degrees.  Brittles and lollipops are made from syrup heated to the hard crack stage. As a sugar syrup is cooked, water boils away, the sugar concentration increases, and the temperature rises. The highest temperature that the sugar syrup reaches tells you what the syrup will be like when it cools.  If you are not experienced at candy making (and even if you are…), I HIGHLY suggest investing in a candy thermometer and using it. It can be your best friend and help eliminate “goofs” due to incorrect cooking. To use the thermometer, stand it upright in the candy syrup so the bulb is completely immersed in the liquid. Do not let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Clip it in place.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method to test the stage. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch! For ””hard crack” stage which is what the mozhee needs to reach, the  hot syrup will form brittle threads in the cold water and will crack if you try to mold it. I had no picture of the actual mozhee and apologize, but found one that resembles the Mozhee (sorry – I did the best I could…).

Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (Hard Molasses Candy)

Ingredients

    Mozhee #1
    Ingredients
  • 1 cup "barrel" molasses (today = unsulphured mild baking molasses; not blackstrap molasses)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1/8 lb. butter
  • Walnuts, peanuts, coconut (all optional)
    Method
  • Combine first three ingredients in a heavy saucepan or No.10 cast iron frying pan, stirring until dissolved and then stirring occasionally until the mixture forms a hard "crack" stage (300 to 310F degrees on a candy thermometer). Reduce heat, add vanilla and butter. Mix thoroughly. Pour into buttered pie pans sprinkled with nuts and/or coconut if you desire. Allow to harden, break into pieces to eat.
    Mozhee #2
    Ingredients
  • 1 lb light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup King’s Syrup or Turkey Table Syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Optional – chopped English walnuts, chopped peanuts, and/or shredded coconut
    Method
  • Combine sugar, molasses, butter and water in a heavy 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Cook until a brittle thread forms in cold water, or use a candy thermometer and heat to 300 to 310. Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla. Pour into well greased muffin tins, about ¼ inch high or into buttered pie pans sprinkled with nuts and/or coconut, if desired.
  • Makes 20 to 24 muffin sized pieces.
  • When cool, pop out of tins and wrap in waxed paper. To eat: smack candy against hard surface to crack into bite-sized pieces.

Instructions

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/30/mozhee-or-moche/

 

 

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postheadericon Mom’s Homemade Easter Eggs

In the Coal Region, churches and organizations turn out tens of thousands of handmade candy Easter eggs, selling them to raise much needed funds.  It is tradition among many families to make their own eggs, too. Every one who makes them usually likes their recipe best and in my family, it was no different. Over the years, I have had many handmade eggs at Easter – from far and wide – but Mom’s eggs always were – and always will be – MY favorite.  Nothing said Easter was nearing in my house like seeing the makings for these eggs come into the kitchen with that week’s “store order” (grocery shopping)

Mom called these “peanut butter” eggs, but always used some fresh, finely grated coconut in them (which Dad cracked, peeled, and grated). She never varied the ingredients. She never made other filling flavors. To this day, THESE are what homemade Easter eggs are measured against in my mind.

Mom always used her hands for mixing the filling – no electric mixer for her!  She could easily tell by touch whether or not the mix needed any adjustments to bring it to a creamy consistency that rolled nicely but did not stick to your hands. Mom and I always made Easter eggs together at our kitchen table when I was a kid and I can remember finding it amusing watching her start out with “Frankenstein hands”  as the filling was super mushy at the start but came together and rolled itself off her fingers as she added the powdered sugar.

I perched on the edge of that chrome and yellow vinyl chair just waiting to get the first teeny ball Mom would roll and hand to me, her “official taste tester”.  I thought I called the shots as to whether they were firm enough or not and, to be honest, knew immediately they were just right but always “needed” a couple more tastes “to make sure”!

Once the mixture was ready, out came the wax paper-lined cookie sheets and she and I set to work pinching off lumps of filling and doing our best to form them into acceptable, two-bite-sized, egg-like shapes. My Dad had some kind of built in detector that let him know the eggs were at the point of going into the refrigerator to set overnight before dipping and he never failed to show up when we were otherwise distracted, snag a few naked eggs for snacking, and disappear again. The only evidence of his thievery was the glaring empty spaces left on the trays among the carefully placed and spaced rows of eggs.

When it came time to dip them, Mom chopped up blocks of semi-sweet baking chocolate (found in the baking aisle of the grocery) and a little bit of paraffin wax (I can close my eyes today and see the box of “Gulf” wax sitting on the kitchen counter) which kept the chocolate shiny once it hardened, and melted them together on top of a double boiler. She would take a small amount of the naked rolled eggs from the refrigerator, snag each with a toothpick, dip the egg, deposit it onto another wax paper-lined tray and take a teaspoon and drop a tiny bit of the melted chocolate on to the hole left by the toothpick to seal it. The thin, semi-sweet coating perfectly offset the sweetness of the inside of the egg. The finished eggs were always stored in the refrigerator in a covered tin, resting layer upon layer, separated by rounds of wax paper. To this day, my favorite way to eat these eggs is ice cold from the fridge, the bite into it taking me back to Easters many decades ago in that kitchen in the Coal Region.

If you make these, you might want to coat them using what many people favor today and I use – candy coating wafers which are widely available in cake and candy making supply stores and many supermarkets carry them around Easter. Using these wafers will yield a thicker chocolate coating on your egg than the semi-sweet baking chocolate method. The wafers are available in light, dark, and white along with flavors like peanut butter and also come in a rainbow of colors allowing you to get really creative with your decorating and flavor combos. I personally prefer Merckens brand. If the eggs get soft while you are dipping them, take only a few from the refrigerator at a time to dip.  I NEVER use baking chips to coat my eggs – the results for me are less than satisfactory in appearance and the quality of chips among brands varies wildly.

You can make bite-sized eggs or jumbo ones; the yield from the recipe will depend on how much filling you use for each egg.  Make sure you have sufficient powdered sugar available before starting the recipe, amounts needed can vary slightly depending on weather, peanut butter used, etc.  I use only Jif or Skippy traditional creamy peanut butter. I have found only these two give me consistent, quality results. If using bagged coconut, rather than fresh, I use unsweetened and give it a whirl in the food processor to break the shreds/flakes down into fairly fine pieces. And yes, you can skip the coconut altogether if you prefer; adjust your powdered sugar when mixing to get the right consistency.

Homemade Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Homemade Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Homemade Easter Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar (approximately - have extra in case needed)
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) salted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces creamy peanut butter (Jif or Skippy)
  • 1 to 2 cups finely grated fresh coconut, to your taste (or store-bought unsweetened)
  • OR skip the coconut - you will need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar.
  • Coating wafers - the amount you need depends on how large you make the eggs; smaller eggs use up more coating chocolate. I buy a several pounds, there are lots of uses for extra if you have it..

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter (margarine) and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the coconut and mix well.
  4. Add the powdered sugar, starting with a couple cups, mix and continue to add powdered sugar as needed to get a soft filling that is not sticky and can be rolled into egg shapes using your palms.
  5. Form egg shaped balls in desired size and place on lined cookie sheet(s).
  6. Cover and refrigerate several hours.
    To coat
  1. Melt coating wafers in top of double boiler; take care not to get any steam or water in chocolate or it will seize up.. Re-warm as needed.Stir the coating occasionally. Use fork to dip egg, tap off excess chocolate on rim of pan, drop egg onto lined pan to set.
  2. Store in refrigerator.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/16/moms-homemade-easter-eggs/

 

 

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postheadericon Irish Potatoes (Candy)

Irish potato candy is a traditional Philadelphia confection that, despite its name, is not from Ireland, and this version does not contain any potato. The candies have a coconut cream inside and are rolled in cinnamon on the outside, resulting in an appearance reminiscent of tiny, freshly dug potatoes. The “potatoes” are about the size of a large marble and are especially popular around St. Patrick’s Day. Although they are Philly-based, they are available in many areas and are made commercially by Oh Ryan’s of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, who claims to be the largest distributor of Irish Potatoes, shipping about 80,000 pounds to major chains and smaller candy stores, mostly in the Philadelphia area. See’s Candies, based in South San Francisco, also makes a version.  You will often find these candies featured as a seasonal product in the Philly area and elsewhere in Eastern Pa (and beyond) in supermarkets and candy shops. It is super simple to make your own with a few ingredient! Rarely does a St Paddy’s Day go by that a container of these are not in my refrigerator. Be aware – they are addicting!

NOTE: You can substitute cocoa for the cinnamon if you prefer (especially if you do not like the “bite” of cinnamon)

Irish Potatoes Candy

Irish Potatoes Candy

Irish Potatoes Candy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/2 - 8 ounce package) full fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 2 and 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon or as needed

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth.
  3. Using your hands if necessary, mix in the coconut. Roll into one or two bite sized balls then slightly elongate the ball into a potato shape.
  4. Roll in the cinnamon.
  5. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill. Store in refrigerator tightly covered.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/21/irish-potatoes-candy/

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postheadericon Nougat Candy

When I was young, my family went grocery shopping at the local A & P every Friday evening because Fridays were payday for my Dad.  The local store was small, but seemed to have everything we needed at the time. As Mom, Dad, and I embarked from the Buick, Dad would drop a nickle in the parking meter, Mom would gather her pocketbook (purse) from the car and deftly drape it over her forearm, and I would run ahead to secure the perfect shopping cart (sometimes referred to a “buggy” in my area and by my folks); it was important it have no wobbles or wheels that made it undesirable for a trip around the supermarket! Upon opening the door, the smell of freshly roasted coffee hung thick in the air at the entrance/exit; a set of red coffee grinders, shoots caked with coffee grounds from previous users grinding their beans, proudly proclaimed “Eight O’Clock!”. By this time the folks had caught up with me and Mom started down the produce aisle while Dad and I went exploring. Nothing was ever more exciting to me than when we rounded the aisle that contained the thing I longed for most. I would tug on Dad’s shirt sleeve, he would dutifully bend down, and I would whisper in his ear – like I did every week –  “Did you bring some?”  “Yes,” he would answer grinning, “I brought some!”. The “some” was money. Pocket change to be exact. So very important because the object of my affection and the thing that drew me week after week was the display of individually wrapped assorted candies of which you could buy individual pieces! Right there!  Just pick your favorite, drop a nickle in the box in the center of the display, and chow down! And so we did. He picked his favorite (which seemed to vary – something I did not quite understand in my child’s reasoning) and I went right for the nougat. That individually wrapped piece of white, chewy, goodness inside which were little jewel colored gobs of flavored jellies.  Ah, my night was complete! That special little bond in childhood that Dad and I shared in that moment lives on today in my memory. Those displays are still around in markets, although the individual pieces are not 5 cents anymore. I have to admit, they do not hold the same fascination for me now these many decades later as I stand in the mega mart staring at the display. Sure, I still enjoy the candy once in awhile, but it feels like something is missing – and it is; my beloved Pop. This super-easy recipe for jelly filled nougats to create at home makes me think fondly of my Dad. It is among my favorites in my recipe collection

SOME HINTS:

  • extend parchment out ends or sides of pan to form “handles” to help with removal from pan before cutting into squares.
  • mixture is sticky, a piece of lightly greased parchment paper makes a good tool to push down and level our the mixture in the pan.
  • use a very sharp knife when cutting the nougat into squares
  • be sure to cool completely before cutting (several hours or overnight)
  • to make ahead or store: layer the cut pieces of nougat between pieces of parchment paper and place in an air tight container and freeze. To serve, let them sit for about 1 hour or 2 to bring them to room temperature.
  • you can use the gumdrops of your choice; red and green for the holidays, even spicy gumdrops, but be sure to use fresh gumdrops and SMALL gumdrops (otherwise you will need to cut large gumdrops up into smaller pieces and that’s not the best use of your time!!). Other types of “gummy” candies may not work correctly in this recipe (too tough, etc.)

Nougat Candy

Yield: About 60 bite-size pieces

Nougat Candy

Easy Nougat Candy

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 bags mini marshmallows (250g per bag)
  • 2 bags white baking chips (225g per bag)
  • 2 cups small gumdrops

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 9 inch x 13 inch pan by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Melt first 3 ingredients together, stirring often, until smooth over low heat in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in gumdrops.
  4. Spread on parchment lined 9 inch x 13 inch pan.
  5. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Cut into squares.
  6. Can be stored n refrigerator or frozen.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/01/14/nougat-candy/

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postheadericon Homemade Peanut Brittle

When I was a child in the 60s and early 70s, we visited my Mom’s sister, my Aunt Gerry. often. She lived in Jersey just across the river from Philly (Philadelphia). Our drive included traveling Route 61 through the tiny borough of Port Clinton (Pa.), an old canal and railroad town near the intersection of Pa. Route 61 and Interstate 78 in Schuylkill County. On the main street — busy Rt. 61 — is the Port Clinton Peanut Shop.  If you blink while driving by, you will miss it. But it is a fixture in the town and has been for many decades. Still in business today, they have old-fashioned/nostalgic candy, fudge, and they still roast peanuts fresh on the premises. But it was the peanut brittle I remember most and the treat that peaked my child’s imagination as I spotted the Pagoda in Reading (Pa.) on the mountainside headed home on Route 61 and KNEW it would not be long before we were able to stop at the Peanut Shop.  Now, let me tell you, Rt. 61 is busy.  I mean REALLY busy. The kind of busy where multiple lanes of traffic zip by so fast a parked car rocks in their wake.  My poor Dad (actually, my super brave, best in the world, no one like MY Dad) would pull in to a hard-to-come by parking spot on the northbound side of Rt. 61, get out the car, and take his life in his hands – literally – to sprint across the highway and into the Peanut Shop. He would return, repeating his death-defying feat, arms loaded with bags of freshly roasted peanuts in the shell and — peanut brittle! Every time I page through my recipe file and see this recipe, I am 10 years old again, sitting in the back seat of the family’s blue Buick Electra, nose pressed up against the side rear window, waiting for him to emerge from the Port Clinton Peanut Shop with those treasures.  I miss you so much, Pop. And it is only now, later in my life, that I realize just how truly enjoyable life was when you still were in it. NOTE: use care when working with hot sugar syrup mixtures – they can stick to your skin if contact is made and cause deep burns.

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Ingredients

    Have all your ingredients ready and prep your pan before starting the cooking process!
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter + more for pan if using
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dry roasted or raw peanuts

Instructions

  1. Prepare and gather all ingredients and prepare a large low-sided baking sheet by lining with parchment paper, a silicone mat, or lightly buttering surface.
  2. Place sugar, corn syrup, water, and 2 Tablespoon butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Boil without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 240.
  3. Add peanuts, and cook 2 to 3 more minutes or until temp hits 285 to 290F. (The cooked mixture should be golden brown.) Watch temperature carefully, it can go beyond this quickly and ruin your batch.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. Be careful, mixture can bubble up when making these additions and it is VERY HOT!!
  5. Pour mixture onto a prepared metal shallow pan. Quickly spread the brittle by tilting the pan and allowing the mixture to flow across the pan to all edges forming a thin layer.
  6. Allow to stand several minutes or until cooled and hardened. Break into pieces.
  7. Optional: Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/10/27/homemade-peanut-brittle/

Port Clinton Peanut Shop

Reading Pagoda at night overlooking the city.

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postheadericon Flitch – Potato Candy

Popular at bake sales, school fundraising events, and across the Coal Region in general, this old-fashioned jelly-roll type potato based candy is known in the Anthracite region as “Flitch” although many “flitch” recipes do not use the potato — so technically this is officially “POTATO CANDY”. (The recipe goes back generations in many regions, but is well connected to the Pa Dutch who likely made it as a way of using up left over cooked potatoes – we are a frugal lot!).  I find it addicting and it was a favorite of mine as far back as I can remember. I used to get particularly excited when autumn and my high school’s Homecoming Queen season rolled around — not because I had any particular interest or stake in that annual ritual, but because it meant the chances of finding a candidate had set up a table in the hall outside of the cafeteria and filled it with goodies to sell to raise funds in her bid for the crown was astronomical. As I sidled up to the table, I immediately scanned it for potato candy. Being it was in the Coal Region, I was rarely disappointed! Flitch was one of the most popular items, was always priced right, and every Mom’s was just as delicious as the other.  Perfect!! To this day, I can close my eyes and be transported back 40 years to that hallway and the little plastic wrapped pieces of flitch just calling my name.

Keep in mind the larger the potato you use and the more moisture in the potato, the more confectioners sugar you will need to obtain the correct consistency for rolling. I usually just use a white all-purpose potato. Have plenty of confectioners sugar available before starting. When mixing in the sugar, be prepared to get messy and — use your HANDS (some of the most important tools for any cook!). I have found it impossible to achieve the proper final consistency of the potato/sugar mixture without mixing by hand.  I also use a smooth, easy-to-spread peanut butter. I have found the “natural” peanut butters that need stirring before using to be hard to spread into a nice thin layer, but the choice of PB is up to you. Wrap your rolled candy tightly in plastic wrap to store. I keep mine in the refrigerator until serving.

Flitch – Potato Candy

Flitch – Potato Candy

Flitch - Potato Candy

Ingredients

  • 1 small potato (about the size of an egg)
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar or quantity as needed
  • Vanilla extract (optional)
  • Peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Boil or bake the unpeeled potato. Peel as soon as you can handle it. Make sure to use a SMALL potato as directed.
  2. In a dish, mash potato smooth with a fork.
  3. While still warm, begin mixing in confectioners sugar. Continue adding sugar and mixing until the mixture is the consistency of firm yet pliable dough.
  4. If desired, add a few drops of vanilla when mixing.
  5. Sprinkle a little confectioners sugar on a cutting board, or put the dough between two sheets of wax paper, and roll the mixture to a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Spread peanut butter atop the rolled "dough", almost to the edges.
  7. Roll up the sheet from the long end, loosening it from the paper or board with a knife as you roll. (This is rolled like a jellyroll)
  8. Cut into slices and serve.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/09/08/flitch-potato-candy/

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