Both of these recipes come from men who knew and loved their sweets: my husband’s father and his maternal grandfather. The poor guy came by his sweet tooth naturally, from both sides of his family. These recipes came from stained and worn scraps of paper, a 1938 Household Searchlight Recipe Book with penciled in changes and by watching and taking notes myself. There are a lot of things the generation before us assumed everyone would know, but I didn’t. First, here is a “drop” fudge recipe meaning you can drop the finished product onto wax paper rather than fill a pan.
3 cups sugar
6 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
3 T butter or margarine (oleo)
2/3 cup milk
A few grains of salt (Really!)
Combine sugar, milk, butter, salt, and cocoa in medium saucepan. Let it set while you spread wax paper over a table or countertop. Cover and heat the mixture over low heat until boiling. Remove lid, stir and replace lid. Continue to boil until a temperature of 234 F-238 F is reached. This takes some time on low, but don’t turn it up and scorch it. Use the candy thermometer to test every so often. Gently stir in vanilla and cool without further stirring until it is room temperature. To hurry this along, you may want to fill your sink with lukewarm water and set the pan in the water. Once it is cooled enough, beat until the mixture is creamy, thick, and will hold its shape when dropped from a teaspoon. You may have to test this a few times and resume stirring if not ready. It does take a while. When your arm is about to fall off, you’re close. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.
Next is what many of us would call a type of praline-Not with the traditional chewy caramel texture, but more opaque and easier to bite. Oscar never called it a praline, but we all did.
Oscar’s Pecan Cream Candy (Pralines)
½ cup evaporated milk (I like Milnot best.)
2 ½ cups sugar
½ cup white corn syrup (Karo syrup)
2 ½ cups pecan halves
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix together all ingredients except the pecans in a large pot. It’s okay that the butter is still in chunks. While it sits a few minutes, spread out wax paper over a cutting board or other area about 3 ft. x 3 ft. that won’t be damaged by heat. Have a couple of tablespoons out and ready on the wax paper. Now, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil for 3-3 ½ minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat. Add the nuts. Beat for 3 or 4 minutes until the mixture is creamy and no longer translucent. Drop from tablespoons onto wax paper. Leave candy to cool before eating or storing.