Aunt Bill's Brown Candy qualifies as holiday icon

By Sherrel Jones Modified: December 9, 2009 at 4:56 am •  Published: December 9, 2009

Some recipes are destined to become classics, others family favorites while a select few evolve into something more: Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy has surely reached Oklahoma icon status and possibly a larger designation.

The recipe made its debut during The Oklahoman and Times-WKY Cooking School held in October 1932. The recipe has literally been stirred, handed down and shared across Oklahoma and the country ever since.

The cooking school was the second in an 11-year series in Oklahoma City. Susan Adams, the newspaper’s food columnist, was known as Aunt Susan. She presented the recipe to about 5,000 people each day at the school. It was printed in a 24-page souvenir pamphlet handed out during the five-day event.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to acquire three years of the souvenir pamphlets from Jim Edwards Book Store in Oklahoma City’s Stockyards. My 1932 souvenir is yellowed but fully intact after 77 years.

Patty Vineyard MacDonald, an Arkansas home economist, published "Long Lost Recipes of Aunt Susan” in 1989 after several years of extensive research. It featured much of Aunt Susan’s witty column and cooking know-how along with recipes featured on her WKY Radio show and in The Oklahoman.

In 1992, a sequel rounded up Will Rogers "Tomfoolery” and "More Aunt Susan Recipes” into "Spiced With Wit.” Anyone interested in Oklahoma cooking and the remarkable Will Rogers would enjoy the books. "Long Lost Recipes” is still available in libraries and through used book sources, Amazon and Barnes and Noble at prices from $12.18 to $65. The sequel can be obtained through the Will Rogers Museum Book Shop for $9.95.

Later, the recipe was published under the pen name of Susan Adams in the "How to Cook” book.



Find the recipe Casady graduate and Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg published on the Food Dude blog: blog.newsok.com/fooddude


Aunt Bill's Brown Candy

ORIGINAL HALF RECIPE

3 cups sugar, divided

1 cup cream

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup butter

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups nuts, broken

Note: This recipe will be easier to do if two people are able to make it together.

Pour 1 cup of the sugar into a heavy aluminum or iron skillet and place it over low heat.

Begin stirring with a wooden spoon and keep the sugar moving so that it will not scorch. It will take about 15 minutes to completely melt all of the sugar, and at no time should it smoke or cook so fast that it turns dark. It should be about the color of light brown sugar syrup.

As soon as you have the sugar heating, pour the remaining 2 cups of sugar, together with the 1 cup of cream or milk, into a deep, heavy kettle and set it over low heat to cook slowly while you are melting the sugar in the skillet.

As soon as the sugar is melted, begin pouring it into the kettle of boiling milk and sugar, keeping it over very low heat and stirring constantly. The real secret of mixing these ingredients is to pour a very fine stream from the skillet into the pan. Aunt Bill always said to pour a stream no larger than a knitting needle, while stirring across the bottom of the kettle at the same time.

Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture forms a firm ball (238-240 degrees) when dropped into cold water. After this test, turn off the heat and immediately add the baking soda, stirring vigorously as it foams up. As soon as the baking soda is mixed in, add the butter, allowing it to melt as you stir.

Set the pan of candy off the stove but not outdoors or in a cold place, for about 20 minutes until it is lukewarm; add the vanilla and begin beating.

Using a wooden spoon, beat until the mixture is thickened and heavy and takes on a dull appearance instead of a glossy sheen. Add the broken nuts and mix.

Turn into buttered square pans where it can be cut into squares when cooled. Top pieces with pecan halves if desired. This candy stays moist indefinitely.

Source: “Long Lost Recipes of Aunt Susan” by Patty Vineyard MacDonald, 1989.

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