Category Archives: Candies

Day 324: Maple Creams

We’ve been getting quite the taste of winter here the past few days. I haven’t had any time to start preparing for Christmas, the next important holiday on my calendar. Today with the pretty, if deadly, snow has put me in the mood to start making some of the goodies I consider necessary for this celebration. The Candies section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898) contains all sorts of delicious recipes. I’ve made one version of Maple Creams but there are three more. Tonight I thought I’d try Mrs. Duncan of Hamilton’s recipe.

I put 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan along with 4 cups of brown sugar and 3/4 cup of milk. After I stirred I turned on the heat and let it melt and eventually come to the boil. Soon it was time to start testing. I set up a cup of cold on the stove and periodically dropped a bit off the sugary liquid off a spoon and into the water. The line “hardens in water but is not crisp” seems straight forward but in practice I found it challenging. Is this soft ball or hard ball? I’m sure it is not soft crack or hard crack — two other terms used in candying. I settled on removing the pan when I could form a hard ball with the liquid I dropped in the water. Next I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a hand full of chopped walnuts. I started stirring and again tried to figure out the moment to stop and pour the liquid into a pan. I struggle to make fudge and maple creams are fudge. I missed the moment again. I stirred and thought it is time to pour but gave it just one more stir to be sure. Suddenly my liquid was turning to sugar. I quickly poured it into a pan but it was impossible to stir anymore. I had my final product and just had to wait for it to cool enough to taste.

I suspected discovering the identity of Mrs. Duncan of Hamilton was going to be a challenge. I was right. The 1891 census has at least fifteen women who were married to men with the surname Duncan living in the city of Hamilton. That is a very large pool to begin a search. I tried checking the Galt people who might have a Mrs. Duncan in their midst with a relative in Hamilton but that didn’t produce results either. I only have one family with the Duncan surname in my “Galt Cook Book” family tree and they lived in the Woodstock area. I think I have to give up for tonight but perhaps someday I’ll find out more about Mrs. Duncan of Hamilton.

As I mentioned I don’t have much success in making fudge. The Berlin Cook Book (1906) has a recipe for Maple Cream that seems to be fool-proof. I’ve had great success with it several times. Sadly Mrs. Duncan’s version sugared so much it was hard to cut a piece to sample. It tastes good so with proper timing it should be a usable recipe but meanwhile I’m sticking to May Haddow’s version from 1906. You can find it here in the blog I kept in 2012.

Mrs. Duncan, Hamilton

Four cups brown sugar, three-quarters cup milk, butter size of walnut, flavoring, nuts. Put the sugar, milk and butter on to boil until it hardens in water but is not crisp. Add flavoring and nuts chopped fine if you like just before removing from the fire. Then beat before pouring out until it has something the appearance of sugar.Then pour out in a buttered pan and beat until nearly sugared. Then mark off in squares.


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Day 254: Nut Candy

I woke up to very cool weather today and so it feels like a good time to make a candy recipe. I saw a container of prepared fresh cocoanut pieces at the grocery store tonight and so the Nut Candy recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) jumped out at me. I’m happy I found the prepared cocoanut as I usually injure myself when trying to open a cocoanut. Although women of 1898 could buy a whole cocoanut which surprises me however I suspect the sort of pre-cut slices of fresh cocoanut I bought today wouldn’t be around. As usual I’m going to make half the recipe contributed by some anonymous person.

Ad for Nuts and Dried Fruit in The Canadian Grocer 1898

Ad for Nuts and Dried Fruit in The Canadian Grocer 1898

I weighed 1 pound ( cups) of white sugar and put it in a sauce pan along with 1/2 cup of water. I put the pot on to boil on my electric stove and started testing after a few minutes. Meanwhile I started mixing the other ingredients. I put together a mix of almonds, walnuts, pieces of dates, fresh cocoanut, raisins and the candied orange peel which I then poured on a buttered pan. It didn’t take long for the sugar to be ready and once it was I poured it over the fruit and nuts. It took a while for it to cool enough to sample.

NutsAs the recipe indicates a wide variety of nuts was available in 1898 and people could buy very specific types of dried or candied fruit.

This is a nice combination of fruit and nuts. I didn’t really use enough of them since I think this sugar syrup is supposed to coat them rather than leave them swimming in sugar. It’s worth another try.


Of all kinds is made by boiling two pounds of sugar and one cupful of water together till it will harden when dropped into cold water, and then pouring it over the kernels of nuts in a buttered tin. A fanciful and delicious variety is made by using several kinds of nuts in the same candy — hickory nuts, Brazil nuts cut in slices, halved almonds, cocoanut cut in thin strips, bits of orange peel, a few broken dates, and stoned raisins.

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Day 229: Russian Taffy

It can be challenging to make candy in humid weather but tonight it isn’t raining and it isn’t hot/humid so I’m going to try making Russian Taffy. This recipe from the 1898 New Galt Cook Book isn’t attributed to anyone.

I put a teacup of whipping cream in a large saucepan and then weighed the sugar. Once I had 1 3/4 pounds of granulated white sugar I added it to the saucepan. I also added the 2 teaspoons of vanilla although I wasn’t sure if it should be added later. I set the saucepan on the heat and waited until it boiled. I debated whether to stir or not. Some taffy recipes say to leave it alone but I was worried it would burn. I stirred occasionally while the sugar was melting and then left it alone. It was strange to watch the process. I never leave boiling sugar alone. It is just too dangerous. I thought I’d done something wrong when it looked like it was going to crystallize but then it started to become liquid again. It was very hard to let it keep boiling for 30 minutes. I was scared it would burn. Finally after half an hour, and just as it started to boil up almost overflowing the saucepan, I removed it from the heat. It was caramel coloured. I poured it into some greased pans and tried to pull a bit of it. It’s challenging to pull hot sugar candy. Be very careful since it is very hot and will stick to your skin if it spills. I managed to pull some and then tasted it once it cooled.

I think I over cooked this as it basically tastes like caramel — almost a burnt sugar taste. Or maybe that’s what is intended? It is okay but I think there are better recipes for taffy. I used to make a molasses based one. In doing an internet search to find out about the name “Russian taffy” I discovered that this is supposed to be more like a fudge! It had that look around the half way mark in cooking but there is no way this would be fudge after 30 to 45 minutes of boiling. Clearly things have changed in 120 years.


One teacupful of cream, one and three-quarter pounds soft white sugar, two teaspoonfuls vanilla; boil from half to three-quarters of an hour.

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Day 173: Date Creams

Why am I making candy today? I have no idea except that it is a lovely day today and I’d like to spend it doing other things. I worked and spoke at the Latitudes Storytelling Festival today and had a bit of time to enjoy some of the interesting food at the Multicultural Festival. However, I didn’t get dessert there and I suppose that’s why a quick and hopefully easy candy recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) caught my eye. Tonight I’m going to make Date Creams using the recipe contributed by Miss Ella Goldie.

I put the egg white into a small bowl and added the same amount of water. I probably should have measured exactly but I eyeballed it the way I expect women did in 1898 too. I stirred and then I started adding icing sugar. This is one of those recipes that uses far more icing sugar than one would expect. I decided to add the vanilla before I had finished mixing all the icing sugar since past experience shows it can be hard to incorporate later. Eventually I had a stiff mixture that I could shape and insert into the dates. I removed the pits from some dates and put the cream mixture in its place. I didn’t have any almonds handy so I didn’t try the nougats but I think it is a good idea too. A modern cook could place the completed dates on wax paper or parchment paper rather than the oiled paper mentioned in the recipe. I didn’t want to wait 12 hours to taste so I was soon ready to sample at least one of the dates.

Miss Ella Goldie is Charlotte Eleanor Goldie daughter of John Goldie and Margaret Rogers both of whom also contributed recipes to the cook book. She was born in Galt Ontario on November 27, 1875 and grows up there too. She had an older brother and her parents also take in her cousins when their mother died. Her own father died when she was about 21. In 1902 when she was 27 Ella married a clerk named James Campbell Breckenridge and was in her 30s when their two sons and daughter were born. The family lived at 21 Cluny Avenue in Toronto for many years while James worked in an office. In 1929 Ella had the opportunity to travel to England arriving in Southampton in July and departing in October. She and her daughter made this trip every few years based on ship records now available online. Based on information provided by her descendents in an Ancestry family tree, Ella died around 1968 making her 93 years old.

This is a sweet treat but if you like dates and/or icing you’ll probably enjoy it. Do keep in mind that it is made with raw egg whites if you prepare it as instructed in the recipe. A modern cook might choose to use some pasteurized egg whites available in cartons. Another advantage is using just the amount of egg you prefer.


Miss Ella Goldie

Break into a bowl the white of one egg, add an equal quantity of water and stir in confectioners’ sugar till stiff enough to mould into shape with the hands. Flavor with vanilla. Seed some shapely dates and fill the cavity with the cream, allowing it to protrude and form a white stripe. A little of the cream ay also be placed on the top if desired. Dry on oiled paper. Date nougats are made by placing an almond or other nut in the cavity from which the stone was removed. Roll the nut in a little of the cream, and put a thick layer of the cream outside the whole. Ready at the end of twelve hours.

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Day 163: Cocoanut Candy

I’ve worked eleven days in a row and I’m tired but I still went out and voted in the provincial election. Writing this blog is a constant reminder that the women of 1898 had a very different life from mine. Only certain people could vote in 1898 so the women with recipes in The New Galt Cook Book would have to try to influence an eligible male voter. I want to make something quick and that might give me a bit of energy so I’ve picked Cocoanut Candy from Mrs. A. Taylor.

I am making a very small amount of this candy. I put 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and added a tablespoon of what turned out to be cocoanut cream instead of cocoanut milk. I let it boil for about 3 minutes until it was starting to sugar. I stirred in the 1/2 cup of cocoanut and then spread it out. I was ready to sample in just a few minutes.

Mrs. A. Taylor is Margaret Fisher. I’ve written about her several times. Her husband Alfred Taylor is a dry goods merchant which doesn’t entirely explain her rather eclectic mix of recipe contributions.

This candy is quick and non-dairy. It is very sweet and of course strongly flavoured by the cocoanut. I liked it very much and it reminded me of something I’ve had before in another country. I was very suprised to see cocoanut milk in an 1898 recipe. I somehow thought it was a modern addition to cooking in this region.


Mrs. A. Taylor

Take equal quantities of white sugar and grated cocoanut, add enough of cocoanut milk to moisten the sugar and boil, stirring constantly. When the candy begins to return to sugar, stir in the cocoanut as quickly as possible, and in a minute or two spread it on dishes to cool. Mark off in squares when cold enough.

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Day 101: Chocolate Fudger

After 100 days of cooking, researching, and writing, it is time for chocolate again. I selected Mrs. G. H. Locke‘s recipe for Chocolate Fudger. It appears in the Candy section of The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and Mrs. Locke is living in Cambridge Massachusetts which is somewhat ironic since the town of Galt was incorporated into the city of Cambridge Ontario.

This looks like a straightforward recipe and it even lets me decide how much chocolate to use in making this candy. I put 1 cup of milk and 3 cups of white sugar in a saucepan and then added a heaped tablespoon of butter. I turned the heat on as I pondered the type and amount of chocolate to use in this recipe. Did Bakers chocolate come in the same form as it does today? Those squares with the handy place to break it in half are the most familiar type of baking chocolate in my life. I decided to start with one square of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate. I ended up adding half of another since the liquid tasted of chocolate but just barely. Unfortunately the chocolate wasn’t blending well with the other ingredients. I kept hoping it would mix as I stirred the pot. I kept checking to see if it had reached the soft ball stage and finally thought it was ready. I removed the pan from the heat and added 1 teaspoon of vanilla and started stirring. It looked like it was beginning to candy at the edges as described in the recipe so I poured it into a pan to cool.

I’ve spent much of this evening researching this recipe’s contributor rather than cooking. I was able to find a G. H. Locke in Cambridge Mass in 1898. He is an instructor at Harvard University and lives at 22 Trowbridge Street. Based on the street view in Google maps it looks like his home is still there. A year later he is at 35 Walker Street. When Google street view drove past his former home the door was open and it is possible to see the staircase inside! At this point in my search I was stuck and so I’ve decided to assume the G. stands for “George” since that seems to be one of the most common men’s names starting with that initial. I soon found George H. Locke living at 35 Walker Street in an 1899 directory for Cambridge and he is a Harvard instructor. Now I can move forward in finding his wife.

I still couldn’t find much in Ancestry so I did a general Google search and discovered an entire biographical sketch of Mr. George Herbert Locke here . He was a key figure in the history of the Toronto Public Library. From there I was able to do a more effective search on ancestry and discovered the name of his wife. Mrs. G.H. Locke is Grace Isabella Moore of Berlin Ontario! She married George in 1898 so this is a newlywed couple when this edition of the cook book appears. From her marriage information I found her parents and looked them up on Waterloo Region Generations. Grace’s parents are John Thomas Moore and Anne Addison. Anne was born in Galt and is the sister of another recipe contributor. John becomes a developer in Toronto and is responsible for the Moore Park area where his daughter Grace was married to George Locke. They soon left for Cambridge Massachusetts. George and Grace Locke had one son while living in the United States before returning to Canada. Grace died in 1948 in Toronto.

I have a very poor record when it comes to making fudge. I love the stuff but find it challenging to make in even its most basic form. Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t work for me. I like the taste but I have a nice ice cream topping not fudge. It is sticky and syrupy not solid. I suspect I didn’t cook it long enough. I think the recipe is fine . . . it is just my impatient technique that was a failure.

Mrs. G. H. Locke, Cambridge, U.S.

One cup sweet milk, three cups granulated sugar, lump of butter size of small egg, whittle off from half an inch to an inch of Baker’s chocolate, more if you want it Let it all boil until it will form a soft lump when dropped in cold water. Then take off and pour in a teaspoonful of vanilla and stir vigorously until it candies a little around the edges; when it sets cut in small squares.

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Day 79: Peanut Nougat

For almost three months now, I’ve been skimming past this recipe for Peanut Nougat in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) and not really looking at it. For the first time today I realized this candy recipe contains just a few ingredients and is a bit different from peanut brittle — at least I think it is different. The recipe was contributed by Miss Bell of Toronto.

Chopped Peanuts

Chopped Peanuts

I confess I was so eager to try this recipe that I cheated. I did not shell my peanuts. Instead I used peanuts from my pantry cupboard that are already shelled and with the skin removed by some commercial machine. Plus the peanuts came already chopped. Once the peanuts were measured and ready, I buttered a pan so that I wouldn’t waste time later.

Icing Sugar (Confectioners' Sugar)

Icing Sugar (Confectioners’ Sugar)

Next I put 2 cups of icing sugar (powdered sugar, confectioners’ sugar) in a saucepan and turned the heat low. The temperature control for this recipe would be so much easier on a wood fired stove. I’d have an entire stove top to move the pan around until it was in the perfect “hot spot” that would melt the sugar without burning. Even a gas stove would be more immediately adjustable compared to an electric stove. Oh well, in many other ways my stove would be a marvel to Miss Bell.

It took about 7 minutes to end up with melted icing sugar. Patience is a virtue for this and don’t interfere with the process by stirring. I only started stirring when the liquid sugar started to bubble up through the rest of the icing sugar. At that point I began stirring and realized it would have been a good idea to sift the icing sugar before I started. I had to try to break up lumps of icing sugar as I stirred.

Melted Icing Sugar

Melted Icing Sugar

As soon as it was liquid I added the 1 cup of broken peanuts and stirred. It began to set so I quickly poured it all into the previously buttered pan and started spreading with my handy buttered knife. It set up very quickly and I was impatient to I broke a piece off before it was completely hard. Time to taste!

Who is Miss Bell of Toronto? The 1891 census has over 6,000 unmarried women with the surname Bell. Even if I figure out how to rule out the ones who are too young that still leaves an enormous number of possibilities. I think my best option is to find someone in Galt who has a connection to someone named Bell. However, it turns out that on Day 17 I used a recipe from Mrs. Wanless of Toronto and her household includes some unmarried women with the surname Bell! I still don’t know how any of them are connected to Galt but this does help narrow things down if I’m willing to make some assumptions.

It all goes back to Susan Kinsman who married jeweller and watchmaker William Bell. The couple had two daughters Elizabeth and Jeanette. I assume William dies since Susan is listed as a widow in the 1861 census. She’s also listed as a jeweller and shortly after marries a jeweller named John Wanless. The two girls become his step daughters and their mother has four more children. Their maternal grandmother lives in the household too until her death in 1882 at the age of 91.

Elizabeth and Jeanette keep their original surname of Bell although they are little girls when their mother remarries. In 1891 they are single women in their thirties living with their four half siblings and their English mother and Scottish step father plus a 38-year-old Irish man named Alex Dunlop who is the family’s groom. Anyone else have visions of some Victorian novel racing through their minds?

By 1911 Elizabeth (50) and Jeanette (45) live on Spadina Avenue with their 81-year-old step father and 32-year-old half-sister Clara and a 23-year-old servant named Maggie Oliver who had emigrated from Scotland ten years earlier. I can’t find the sisters in the 1921 census or even find out when they died. Clara dies in 1913 possibly of suicide and their step father dies in 1919 while living at 460 Spadina Avenue in Toronto. I had a peek at the area using Google and clearly the building is still standing. A closer look gave me a shock. The building next door is the famous El Mocambo Tavern where so many famous groups played over the years including The Rolling Stones.

Peanut Nougat spread in the dish.

Peanut Nougat spread in the dish.

Oh my! This is a much easier way to make peanut brittle than the one I know from my childhood. There’s no testing or timing or thermometers. There’s no butter or vanilla or soda to add thus risking a boil over. It’s just icing sugar that melted without crystallizing and peanuts quickly spread on a buttered dish. Voila I had candy! And it tastes good too. I would recommend just 1/2 cup of peanuts if you are using commercially chopped peanuts — unless you really like peanuts. As you can see from the picture there is not much candy between the peanut bits.

So is this true nougat? According to Wikipedia the word nougat comes from Latin and means “nut cake” so Miss Bell’s Peanut Nougat fits. However, I and probably many of you, would expect something different when we see the word nougat. For more about nougat check out this entry. Whatever you call this peanut confection it is worth trying the recipe as written but you could also make it with other sorts of nuts. Was this something enjoyed in the Bell/Wanless family? Or did Miss Bell make for special occasions or to enjoy with her own friends.? That too is a mystery.

Miss Bell, Toronto

Shell one cupful of peanuts, two cupfuls confectioners’ sugar; remove the skin of the peanuts and break into small pieces or not as preferred; take two cups of confectioners’ sugar and one cup of peanuts, put the sugar in a saucepan, and as soon as dissolved throw into it the nuts, stirring rapidly, pour quickly into a buttered pan and press into a flat cake with a buttered knife as it cools very quickly.

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