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).
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.
When making cooked candy, a candy thermometer can be your best friend, especially for a novice candy-maker.
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 have two mozhee recipes in my files; the other – Mozhee #2 – uses a milder “table syrup”, such as King’s Syrup or Turkey Syrup rather than molasses which yields a milder flavor.
Mozhee #1 (or Moche)Course: Candy, Dessert, SnacksCuisine: Pa. Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
Mozhee (aka Moshee, Moche, Mozhy among others; meaning molasses related), is a hard molasses candy and a Coal Region favorite.
1 cup unsulphured molasses (not black strap molasses)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 lb. butter
Walnuts, peanuts, coconut (all optional)
- Combine first three ingredients in a heavy saucepan or large cast iron frying pan, stirring until dissolved and then stirring occasionally until the mixture forms a hard “crack” stage (300 to 310 F degrees on a candy thermometer).
- Reduce heat, add vanilla and butter. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour quickly into buttered pie pans sprinkled with nuts and/or coconut if desired. The candy layer in the pan should be about 1/4 inch deep.
- Allow to harden, break into pieces to eat.
- The sugar syrup is extremely hot! Work quickly, but carefully, when pouring.