When I make traditional desserts, I love learning about their history: where they came from, how they came about, and what makes them such timeless classics. And the Martha Washington Candies just happen to be one of them.
There is some question as to where the name came from, especially since Martha Washington neither made these nor probably ever had them. She had long since passed when Elie Sheetz opened the Martha Washington Candies Company in 1900.
As a purveyor of sweets, he wanted to offer his customers high-quality candy that was made with pure materials like coconut, pecans, and condensed milk. As a result, he created a distinct and unique type of candy that burst with creamy coconut flavor and nutty pecan texture. Because of this, his candy quickly gained popularity and his business grew over the years to become a national chain. The candies were so popular, in fact, that Sheetz trademarked the candy name in 1907.
While many shops closed during the Great Depression, the Martha Washington Candies Company thrived. His recipe for the Martha Washington Candies survived and since then has been handed down from one generation to the next. Now, here we are, trying to keep his candy legacy alive.
Like many recipes that have been passed down, the Martha Washington Candies recipe can vary. But despite this, its essence remains the same. Coconut, pecans, and condensed milk are still the highlight of the show. But if you want to add a fruity flavor to contrast the sweetness, you can add maraschino cherries into the filling.
Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or add your own twist, recreating these candies at home is the only way for you to understand how they have withstood the test of time.Print
Martha Washington Candies
Travel back in time by creating this nostalgic delicacy. Much like their taste, the Martha Washington Candies boast a rich history that makes every bite more satisfying.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 24 candies 1x
- Category: Desserts
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick / 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups melting chocolate wafers
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the pecans and coconut in a food processor and pulse until ﬁnely chopped.
- Using a stand mixer ﬁtted with the wire whip or a handheld mixer and a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the milk and coconut-pecan mixture and mix until well combined.
- Roll the mixture into small balls and place on the lined baking sheet.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to ﬁrm up.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until melted.
- Dip each ball into the chocolate coating using a fork, allowing the excess to drip back in the bowl when ﬁshing out with a spoon.
- Place on a sheet of parchment paper and continue dipping the candies until all are coated. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Have you tried these? Did you know the story of Elie Sheetz and his candies?