Martha Washington Candy & a Christmas Cookie Round-up

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I hope everyone is relaxing into the holidays!  I am, finally.  We are in Colorado for Christmas with my mother’s side of the family and it has been so nice to sit and do next-to-nothing for the two days since we arrived.  I’m planning another nap before M arrives tomorrow afternoon, since we have a long list of sights to see in the city.  I grew up with yearly visits to Colorado, so places like the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Silence are near and dear to my heart.  My siblings and I always needed to visit the statue of the wolf pack out in front of the museum, and we gave each of the wolves names when we were young.  It has been almost three years since I have visited, so I am quite excited to revisit the old familiar sites and see what updates have been made.

As usual, we are still unearthing different treasures around the “Big House”.  This is the name our family has given to my grandparents’ house, where my cousin now lives.  There are still plenty of objects of my grandparents still around the house, waiting to be fully investigated.  The last time we visited, we found a pile of old photos that were pretty key to my family history research.  I might try to look through some of my grandparents books, or see if my cousin has rustled up any more photos.

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In the meantime, I wanted to get out one last minute recipe for holiday sweets, and link up some of my earlier Christmas cookie posts.  I’ve fallen somewhat out of the habit of posting in the last hectic weeks.  During November, every spare minute went to participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I won, which means I wrote over 50,000 words in just thirty days!  I am astonished on how much I wrote on so little plot (I tossed aside my original story idea the day before NaNo started, and began with an entirely fresh, unplanned story).  Oh man, is 50,000 words time-consuming, though.  No time for blogging or vacuuming, for sure.  I barely kept dinner on the table and laundry in line (I may not have kept laundry in line, actually…I think M has been really good at picking up my slack).

The start of December brought the crucial prep-time for our winter performances, which remained all consuming until just a few days before we flew out to Colorado.  M has a showing that runs up until today, so he cannot even join us until Christmas Eve.  Such is the life in the performing arts industry.  We provide the holiday entertainment, which means working right up to the holidays.  So it will be a very welcome break after Christmas, when we can slow down for a while with friends and family.  All of the siblings have finally come together for Christmas.  Though, in truth, I have been the one away, spending the last two Christmases with M’s family.  It will nice to have the three of us together, now that we are old enough to (mostly) stop bickering and enjoy one another’s company.

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I am working on a slightly limited pantry up here, since I do not want to fill my cousin’s house with all sorts of GF flours.  Colorado is a bit of a GF mecca, which I am truly enjoying, so I grabbed some White Rice Flour and Tapioca Starch at the local grocery and will be making due with that basic mix while I am here.  I might try my hand at making a Yule Log cake with the Rice Flour Genoise cake from Flavor Flours.  I love that most of the recipes only use one type of flour, so I wrote down the recipe to bring with me.  Of course, if I attempt the Yule Log cake, I’ll have to also make meringue mushrooms to nestle amongst the cranberries and rosemary garnish!  I’m hoping that the high-altitude won’t foil my baking too much.

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I will also be making a huge batch of my Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve dinner.  Christmas day means a full breakfast with my great-grandmother’s Scrapple recipe, and ham for dinner.  E wants to make Derby Pie, so I will help her to make it GF.  If you need a simple recipe to round out your cookie platter, why not make a batch of these Martha Washington Candies?  These coconut-pecan bites taste a bit like almond joys and are naturally GF.  They are also a “candy” that doesn’t require the use of a candy thermometer, if the thought of watching temperatures makes you nervous.

I don’t know where this recipe came from.  My mother has been making Martha Washingtons forever.  A little Google research shows that these candies are pretty traditional in the south.  Perhaps it survives through my grandfather’s family, who came from Kansas.  Maybe it is a recipe that was picked up from a family friend.  However it arrived, these Martha Washingtons are here to stay–we love the sweet, coconut-y treats.

If this candy isn’t quite to your taste, you could also try: Triple Gingerbread CookiesCoconut Macaroons, “Twix” Bar cookies, Turtle Cookies, Chocolate-Peppermint Biscotti, Lemon Tea Cookies, Spicy Almond Slices, or Caramel-Oat Cookie Bars.

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Martha Washington Candies

Serves: 36-48 candies | Prep time: 25-30 minutes (plus 2+ hours chilling time) | Cook time: N/A

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 1 bag of shredded coconut (about 14-16 oz)
  • 1 1/2 boxes powdered sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • optional: 1/2 bar of paraffin wax*
  • optional: white chocolate or other garnishes

*The paraffin wax will make the chocolate coating shiny and keep it from getting too sticky at room temperature.  I did not use any wax for the candies pictured, because I knew I could keep them refrigerated until serving.  If these candies will be at room temperature for a long time, I would recommend using the wax.  Paraffin wax is edible and nontoxic. 

Line a pan with wax paper.  In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, nuts, shredded coconut, sugar, and condensed milk until uniformly mixed. It should be very hard to stir.  If is seems to easy, add more sugar or coconut until the mixture is stiff.  Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll in your palms to form into balls.  Place on the lined pan. Chill the formed candies for at least two hours. Melt the chocolate (and paraffin, if using) in double boiler, then use a fork or a toothpick to dip balls into chocolate. Return the chocolate covered candies to the lined pan and refrigerate until firm.  You can add any ‘drizzle-type’ garnishes, like my white chocolate, after the outer shell has chilled.  If you wanted to use sprinkles, I would recommend adding those before the chocolate shell is refrigerated, so that the decorations stick to the chocolate.

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