Researching the history of food is of significant interest to me. I can’t say I’m as interested in researching the food as I am in eating the food, but it’s a close second. I love to know the origin of dishes, especially the origin of the names of dishes.
Martha Washington has a cookbook that I’d love to get my hands on. It’s out of circulation, best I can tell, so I need to get myself to the library and look for it. For now, I have no way of telling if the namesake of this recipe actually created the recipe. I’d like to think she did although I have a suspicion that not all the ingredients, powdered sugar and sweetened condensed milk, were available commercially. I always marvel at the adaptation the cook had to make before we could easily purchase common pantry items off the grocery shelf.
Searching the internet, you’ll find many variations of this recipe. Some call for less powdered sugar and more butter which results in a soft nougat that’s hard to work into balls. This recipe does take some work to incorporate all the nougat ingredients, but I think it makes a better product. Not only does the nougat have to get rolled into balls, it has to stand up to a dipping in hot chocolate. For those reasons, it needs stiffness.
Consider this an upper body workout. Get a large bowl or pan, dish pan if you have it. A regular ol’ mixing bowl will let you down in this instance. You need lots of room to mix up all the ingredients. I’ve never tried mixing with a stand mixer but I would advise against it. The nougat is so thick that the mixer would probably bog down. A wooden spoon is no good, either. Wash your hands good and dive in. Keep turning and smashing and turning and smashing and turning and smashing. The nougat forms and you’ll be elated. Tired, but elated.
For all the simplicity of this candy, it doesn’t compromise elegance. It’s hand formed and hand dipped. That’s mighty special.
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Martha Washington Candy
yield: approx 80 one-inch balls
If you’ve got kids, recruit them to help roll nougat into balls….after washing their sweet little hands, of course.
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3 cups chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Mix all ingredients in a LARGE bowl….dishpan size if you have it. I used the same bowl that I mix my Thanksgiving dressing up in.
Form in one inch balls and place on a baking sheet that’s been lined with waxed paper or a baking mat.
Store in refrigerator until well chilled.
For chocolate coating:
You’ll have coating left over after all the nougat balls are dipped. If you have pretzels on hand, you can give them a chocolate coating, too. Paraffin wax helps the chocolate stay nice and liquid which makes coating easier. After dipping, it makes the chocolate harden faster and keeps it from melting in your hands.
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cakes paraffin wax
Melt chocolate and paraffin wax in a double boiler stirring frequently.
When melted, use toothpicks to dip nougat balls in wax. Place on waxed paper to dry.
You might also enjoy:
- For nougat:
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 3 cups chopped pecans
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- For chocolate coating:
- 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- 1 1/2 cakes paraffin wax
- For nougat:
- Mix all ingredients in a LARGE bowl….dishpan size if you have it. I used the same bowl that I mix my Thanksgiving dressing up in.
- Form in one inch balls and place on a baking sheet that’s been lined with waxed paper or a baking mat.
- Store in refrigerator until well chilled.
- For chocolate coating:
- Melt chocolate and paraffin wax in a double boiler stirring frequently.
- When melted, use toothpicks to dip nougat balls in wax. Place on waxed paper to dry.