Recipe in a Rhyme

When looking through old newspapers, it is nice to be reminded of the importance that newspapers once held in our lives. One great example of that was the July 2, 1898 edition of the The Catholic Journal of Rochester, NY. This Catholic newspaper featured news of the Catholic Church, both local news and national/international, news about local church members, international news about the Rough Riders and the Battle of San Juan Hill, notes about the peculiarity of Holland, and a charming peanut brittle recipe that was written in the form of a rhyme.

The Catholic Journal., July 02, 1898, Page 7

The recipe seemed simple enough, just melt the brown sugar, add the peanuts and pour into greased pie pans. Melting the sugar is always a challenge as it means standing and stirring, standing and stirring, something that I get easily bored with. Fortunately help arrived just when I was ready to start the candy and this person has the patience to stand and stir the sugar until it melted. Despite our best efforts though, we burned the sugar because we were not sure what the finished temperature of the candy. We heated the candy a bit beyond the hard crack stage and burned some of the sugar on the bottom of the pot. Fortunately we were able to save the burned pot by simmering water and baking soda in the pot for about a half hour then scrubbing the pot using lots of elbow grease.

Poured the candy into two pans, one steel, the other glass. The glass pan was a mistake; the cooled candy stuck to the pan like glue and was only removed by soaking the pan in hot water. Good to know for next time – melted sugar needs to go in steel pans! Not sure though, whether there will be a next time unless I can find someone to stand and stir.

Because the sugar got burned, the brittle has a slightly burned taste.

Time: about 2 hours

Cost: about $8

Successful: Almost – did burn the sugar a little

Accurate: Think so, although not sure about which type of brown sugar we should have used.


Savoring a Culinary Vice

So the challenge was culinary vices, “foods (that are) are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.” A culinary vice in our house is chocolate, the more the chocolate merrier. And what could be better than chocolate, combined with brown sugar, molasses, a bit of butter and milk, and a dash of vanilla? That is what we made for the second Historical Foods Fortnightly 2016 challenge.

But first about the recipe; the recipe came from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 28, 1902. (USA) The front page of the paper featured articles about the recent tunnel explosion in Manhattan. The day before, Jan 27, Manhattan was rocked by a terrible explosion near Grand Central Station and Park Avenue. The Murray Hill Hotel, Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, Grand Union Hotel and Grand Central Station were all damaged in the blast. Six people died and the damage was over $1,000,000. The explosion was caused by dynamite cartridges that were stored in a subway shaft under Park Avenue. A fire swept through the shaft at noon time, causing the dynamite to explode.

On page twelve, Some Things That Will Interest Women, were articles on what to wear between seasons, English going-away gowns, Republican’s Woman Euchre (card game), suggestions on how to get a spot of green around the house (including a suggestion of sprouting clover seeds in a sponge), and this very tasty recipe for Chocolate Caramels.

And yes we did like it better, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 28, 1902, page 12

It was very easy to make, all ingredients except the vanilla, were combined in a large pot and heated to 238oF. The vanilla was added after we took the pot off the stove. This process took about 30 minutes, from breaking up the chocolate to pouring the mix in the pan.

The only challenge was determining when to “mark off” the squares. When I first went to score the caramels (after ~45 minutes), the mix was still too hot and the cut lines blurred back on each other. After about 90 minutes the caramels were ready to be cut. We got about 49 caramels from the recipe.

And of course eating too many was the other challenge. The molasses added just the right amount of chew to these tasty confections.

Fortunately I was able to bring most of them into work where they were enjoyed by my colleagues.

Followed the recipe nearly exactly, except adding the vanilla after the mix was heated and not before.

Cost ~$7.00 (brown sugar had been given to me)


NYS Historic Newspapers, Brooklyn Daily Eagle Jan 28 1902, p 12,

Explosion in new york causes great damage,