5 responses to “On Recipe Writing and 19th Century Chocolate Caramels”

  1. Frugal Kiwi

    Oh dear. I have *some* experience with candy making and to me a whole cup of molasses would be way to much. Of course there are different kinds of molasses. I usually use black strap.

  2. Sarah

    I'm glad you tried this recipe–to be honest it sounded more interesting to me than the modern recipe that was based on it! (I mean–cooking from an 1881 recipe–how totally fascinating.)

    I have no experience with candy making so I can't give any advice, except–if you look at Hesser's version of the recipe can you pick out anything that you did differently that might explain your results?

    I actually find specifying how high the flame should be one of the most difficult parts when I am writing recipes. Not just because stoves vary so much, but because I do so much by feel (like you did when making the caramel) that it's hard for me to remember later.

  3. Dawn

    While I can't help to troubleshoot your recipe, I can feel your pain on this one. I decided about 15 years ago to make the gorgeous hand decorated Christmas cookies my grandmother had made for years and years. I had recollections of what they all looked like so I got the recipes from my mother who had never made them before. What a surprise when the directions said things like "add butter until smooth", "bake until done", "add some zest" or "nice cookie from Aunt Jo" with no name on it! Through trial and error, I am now keeping the tradition alive but it wasn't until after I threw away many a batch of very sad cookies.

  4. gluttonforlife

    Hmm…all that stirring might have been the problem, or possibly you didn't boil long enough. That's the problem with not having mother (or grandmother) looking over your shoulder. Maybe my recipe for caramels on Food52 will be helpful in the future.

  5. debbie koenig

    Kiwi, I agree–a whole cup of blackstrap would likely kill a person! Or at least a recipe. I used a milder molasses, and it was still mighty strong-tasting.

    Sarah, the flame thing is really frustrating, isn't it? Especially now that I'm trying to be sure I'm using consistent phrasing, so the cookbook holds together. Challenging!

    Dawn, I love "bake until done"–we've got some old family recipes here that say the same. Uh, ok.

    Glutton, thanks for the thoughts. After consultation with several candy-making friends, the consensus seems to be that I should've boiled it longer. Ah, next time.

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