2015: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Baking ~ 18

Advent Calendar: December 18, 2015

Christmas Baking

From now until Christmas Eve, I will be participating in the 2015 Edition of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to know more or even join in, please see This Link. I’d like to personally thank Dawn Williams-Kogutkiewicz of Dawning Genealogy for sharing this idea on Genealogy Bloggers.

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Christmas Baking

In addition to Christmas cookies, many families prepared special, once a year treats to share with others. Popcorn balls? Fudge? Carmel corn? What do you remember about these dishes and the activity of making them?

My Memories: My mother often talked about how my grandmother made popcorn balls at Christmas – that was the only Christmas baking she did and they went in their stockings. I tried making them one year – my fingers were burning from trying to handle that hot popcorn-caramel mixture as I formed it into balls. It was my first and last attempt!

I bake many types of cookies for Christmas but it’s the fudge that’s always reached for first on the tray. My mother-in-law made fudge from the recipe on the Hershey can. I had to search out an older can to actually see it printed as I  couldn’t find the original recipe anywhere. It wasn’t an easy recipe to learn, but after much practice, I perfected it. It’s the type of recipe that you must learn exactly how the mixture looks and feels like when it’s ready to pour. I learned that look and feel!

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Hershey Cocoa Can

My Husband’s Memories: My mother made the best fudge, but she never made it at Christmas, that was for baking cookies. Instead, she made it when the mood happened or often when I started it – then she would finish. It had to be stirred for an exact sixteen minutes – that I could handle – but I never could manage to make it come together at the end. Often she didn’t either and we had to put it back on the heat to cook more. My wife is the one who perfected it and makes it the best. I’ll start it now, but I still can’t finish it – I always call her to pull it together – she knows the look and feel.

Check back soon for a fudge picture, as I have a feeling a batch of fudge will be bubbling on the stove over the weekend…

Here’s a written out of the recipe:

2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine dry ingredients in a heavy 4 quart saucepan; stir in milk slowly and stir with wooden spoon. Bring to a ‘bubbly’ boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring to 234 degrees Fahrenheit (soft-ball stage.) Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110 degrees. Beat until fudge thickens and loses some of its gloss. Quickly spread in a lightly buttered 8 or 9 inch square pan; cool. Makes 3 dozen squares. (I was never taught using the candy thermometer – my mother in law always stirred for 16 minutes on the bubbly boil. I know the recipe says at one point, while boiling, you don’t stir – but we always stir while boiling. I never used a candy thermometer, I just learned what the texture looked and felt like.)
Marshmallow-Nut Variation: Increase Hershey’s Cocoa to 3/4 cup. Cook fudge as above. Add 1 cup marshmallow creme with butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool to 110 degrees. Beat 10 minutes; stir in one cup broken nuts and pour into pan. (Fudge does not set until it is poured into pan.) I’ve never tried the marshmallow variety.


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© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
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1 Response to 2015: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Baking ~ 18

  1. Evelyn Smallwood Smith says:

    Christmas baking wasn’t a tradition in my family but became one for me. Store bought pies are okay but some aren’t that great. The one pie I bake that came from my family is Mincemeat. My grandmother McKinley always baked one. I’ve learned that not everyone has a taste for them but I love them. I prefer the deep dish crust, because it prevents boiling over.
    I prefer pumpkin pie and pecan pies more during this season and, again, the deep dish crust works better.
    I always make my pralines, which were my mothers favorite and, until last year that was the only candy I made. Last year I added peanut brittle, my husband’s favorite and this year I made peanut butter fudge for my husband’s sister. We would buy her a batch every year at this store in North Tennessee but it went out of business last year. I have never made fudge in my life but everyone said it was good.
    Guess it’s time I tried my hand at my favorite – chocolate fudge. I hadn’t realized the recipe was no longer on the can. Guess a lot of things have changed over the years.
    I always made my German Chocolate cake, Coconut cake and Mississippi Mud. The Mississippi Mud was given me from a sister-in-law and I begged for the recipe. It is so good. I don’t make it as much anymore because I can’t stay away from it. There are seldom more than the two of us here.
    Yes, Christmas baking is as much a tradition as any other and can be enjoyable as time consuming.

    Liked by 1 person

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