Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sweet memories

I’m going to start with a quick story to explain the title of this blog. The phrase “five pound candy,” when said among my maternal family members will instantly produce squeals and smiles everywhere you look. This phrase evokes such strong memories about the person and personality of my grandmother. Her recipe for this delectable dish is so intensely sweet it will make your teeth rot right out of your head.

As I mentioned above, this recipe was created by my sweet, dearly departed grandmother Lillian (who we all called Grandma Garrison). By the time I came into the picture, my grandmother was well into her years and well known for her sweets. Some of my all time favorites were raisin fills (cookies with a little pocket in the center containing raisins and spices), popcorn balls, and butterscotch bars.

My grandparents raised their family in the high desert of Southeast Washington. When their family was grown, my grandparents moved back to their home state, which was West Virginia. Three out of four daughters, including my mother, remained in Washington and raised their families. So, over the years, Christmas packages were often exchanged via the postal service. One year, my grandmother sent us her usual Christmas package. And as was her signature, the presents were packed tightly into the box by a special packing material. Instead of using Styrofoam peanuts or wadded newspaper, Grandma packed our presents with popcorn balls! We were thrilled! Also in the box, that year, was another present. Grandma had crocheted a slip that looked like a Christmas candle and had slipped it around a Pringles can. Mom appreciated the creativity of the Pringles candle and then set it on our fireplace mantle. We quickly forgot about it while the rest of the presents were opened. Much later in the day, my mother was on the phone with one of her sisters and was relaying the highlights of our Christmas morning, when she was asked how we liked the way grandma had “wrapped” our five pound candy. What? Where was it? Hidden in the Pringles can! I could just imagine my Grandma Garrison smiling her flawless false-toothed grin through the phone line as we told her we had almost missed our special treat.

Five pound candy is a cross between penuche fudge and caramel. It is a very simple recipe that can be very tricky and often doesn’t turn out as it should. Don’t worry too much about messing this one up. The recipe is tricky. But even when it failed for Grandma, she formed it into a log and rolled it in salted pecans or walnuts for a different treat. Before you try to make this recipe, I will give the warning that this may be dangerous to your healthful eating resolve. If you DO try this recipe, please let me know how it turns out.

Five Pound Candy
Written as Grandma wrote it.

6 cups white sugar
½ pound creamery butter (no oleo)
1 large can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 small can evaporated milk (5 oz)
1 bottle red label Karo syrup (2 cups)
1 pound chopped nuts (optional)

Cook the first 5 ingredients together until it forms a firm ball in cold water (approximately 230 degrees with a cooking thermometer), stirring every 10 minutes or so. When it starts to boil, don’t stir. Remove from heat and beat until thick. Add nuts. Pour into greased pans. When cool, cut and serve.


  1. Such recipes are best left as "precious memories." Can't think of one family member or friend who would benefit now from all that sugar.

    1. pretty sure it's meant as a snack, or treat... not as a meal. You make this, keep some, and give the rest to the neighbors, teachers, friends.

  2. First of all I realize I'm a few years behind :-) however there's no need to be snotty.

    This... This was the recipe my family grew up with... Yes you only had a few pieces and yes you only ate it at Christmas... And probably 25% of the time the recipe never did turn out.

    But when it did... :-)

    This is definitely something to try... If you don't like sugar don't try it... If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all

    Looking forward to giving this a shot again... I have only made two successful batches... I do believe there is something to do with humidity that makes it turn out the best.

    Thank you so much for posting an old family favorite.