The name “Oklahoma Nut Candy” alone piques the interest of anyone with a sweet tooth, or even a casual curiosity about iconic American treats. As a food blogger, I couldn’t resist delving into this delectable confectionery’s origins and culinary intricacies. If you’ve never tried Oklahoma Nut Candy before, let me entice you with a recipe that has roots tracing back to 1936 and, in a few steps, takes you to sugar heaven.
History: From ‘Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy’ to a Nationwide Treat
The journey of Oklahoma Nut Candy, initially called Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy, began with a recipe published in 1936 in The Daily Oklahoman. Ever since, it has meandered its way into the hearts (and recipe books) of countless Americans, becoming a staple for the holiday season. It’s a treat that embodies the power of culinary traditions, passed down from generation to generation.
Ingredients: The Magic of Six Cups of Sugar
When it comes to ingredients, you’re in for a sweet ride. The recipe calls for an astonishing six cups of sugar, along with other staples like heavy cream and unsalted butter. But let’s not rush to judgment. This amount of sugar, while it might seem excessive, has stood the test of time and is key to achieving that classic texture and flavor.
Customization: Pecans, Walnuts, or Peanuts?
While the sugar may be non-negotiable, the choice of nuts gives you room to play. Pecans and walnuts have been the popular choice historically, but peanuts could offer a twist. I decided to stick to the classics and used pecans in my version. It’s your call—think of it as a way to put your own stamp on this time-honored treat.
Technique: Mastering the Art of Candy-Making
You might think that a recipe with such straightforward ingredients would be simple to execute. Think again. The process demands precision. A candy thermometer is indispensable, as are a vigilant eye and a steady hand for stirring. Follow each step meticulously, and you’ll see the magic unfold.
Troubleshooting: What Could Go Wrong?
Candy-making is part science and part art. So, what do you do if your first attempt doesn’t go as planned? If your mixture isn’t setting correctly, it’s likely due to the sugar not reaching the correct temperature. Keep that candy thermometer close and stick to the indicated softball stage at 244 degrees F. Precision is the name of the game here.
Storage: Savoring it Now or Saving for Later?
Once your Oklahoma Nut Candy is ready, you may wonder: can it be stored? The answer is a resounding yes. The candy can be left to cool for a couple of hours or even overnight. Afterward, it’s ready to be cut into squares and stored in an airtight container, making it a perfect gift or a treat to be savored at a later date.
- Preparation: Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, setting it aside for later use.
- First Sugar Melt: In a saucepan with a thick bottom—if available—melt 2 cups of sugar over low heat. Stir frequently and ensure the sugar is fully liquefied, which should take approximately 20 minutes.
- Creamy Fusion: While the initial sugar portion is dissolving, combine the remaining 4 cups of sugar and heavy cream in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Simmer this mixture on low heat.
- Merge the Sugars: Once the sugar in your smaller saucepan is thoroughly melted, pour it into the large saucepan, stirring continuously.
- Achieving Softball Stage: Crank up the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 244°F, or the softball stage.
- Baking Soda Incorporation: Remove your saucepan from heat. Stir in the baking soda until it is fully assimilated into the mixture.
- Flavor Infusion: Add in the unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Stir the concoction until the butter is fully melted and the mixture turns smooth.
- Rest & Settle: Allow the mixture to rest for a 20-minute interlude.
- Nutty Finale: Once the mixture has rested, stir in your choice of chopped walnuts or pecans until the glossy sheen vanishes. Transfer this to your pre-prepared baking dish.
- Final Touch: Let the candy cool for 1-2 hours, or even overnight if you can resist the temptation. Slice into bite-sized squares and indulge!