Old-fashioned candy is a real treat in more ways than one. It can be a delightful sweet, sure, but it also can help tell the story of a place. In the case of Kentucky cream candy, it's the story of Kentucky women who founded candy businesses that still exist today. While this regional favorite might not be popular everywhere across the country, it's definitely an important part of Kentuckian food culture.
What is Kentucky Cream Candy?
Kentucky cream candy is a type of pull candy, a little like a taffy. It's made with heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla and boiling water. But unlike taffy, which is sticky and chewy, cream candy has a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture that develops when you let the candy sit overnight.
Once the candy mixture has cooked to hard-ball stage, it's poured out onto a cold, buttered marble slab. Then comes the fun part. The candy is pulled over and over by hand into long ribbons, either by two people or with a candy hook. Once the candy goes from shiny and sticky to satiny and lighter in color, its pulled into long, twisted candy ropes. The homemade candy ropes are then cut into inch-long pieces using scissors.
You can also add a little bit of food coloring or flavoring to the ropes before you start to pull them. Try mixing red and green for a Christmas treat, or cinnamon and vanilla for a spicy-sweet taste.
If you try to eat the Kentucky cream candy at this point, well, it's not a treat. You have to let the candy rest overnight, and in that time, the candy turns into an airy and tender treat.
Pull Candy History
It's not clear when this candy recipe was created, but the confection became popular in the early 1900s when four Kentucky women started making Kentucky cream candy and selling it.
Ruth Hanly Booe and Rebecca Gooch were two substitute school teachers; they opened Rebecca Ruth Candies in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1919. Ruth Hunt started making Kentucky cream candy in the basement of her Mt. Sterling home and then selling it in 1921. She opened Ruth Hunt Candies, her candy shop, in 1930. And Maxine Blakeman made the candy in her home to sell in her restaurant, then went on to found Mom Blakeman's Candy. All three candy companies are still selling Kentucky cream candy today.
If you want to make Kentucky cream pull candy at home, this recipe from My Country Table is a good one. So grab your candy thermometer and make this old time recipe that's still a favorite in the Bluegrass State and beyond.