My Auntie Annie’s busiest times of the year were most major holidays. Not only was she busy during American holidays, but during most of the major international ones, as well. You see, she was a worker at one of the larger U.S. candy factories that made famous brand novelty and boxed fancy assortments. She had been working at the factory as a line worker and then a fancy chocolates dipper since the turn of the 20th century. She would trek off to the chocolate factory every morning for over fifty years, having started her job, in those very emancipated days, at a young and tender age. Her salary was well received by her struggling family, who also enjoyed the fruits of her labors – having access to chocolate bars, candy wafers, turtle clusters, caramel, and a full product line of tooth decaying, fattening goodies.
During the holidays , before Halloween, Auntie Annie would have us for a visit and when she was making candy gifts for Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Hanukkah and Christmas, she would often teach me how to make one of the famous candies that she worked to turn out on a daily basis at the factory. She would have huge pans of bubbling, boiling caramel. Chocolate would be melting at the front of the stove. Her idea of a double boiler was a spaghetti cooking pan with a very large bowl sitting on top. There were several of these crowding her old fashioned stove. She taught me how to make her famous Chocolate turtle clusters when I was about fifteen years old. During that visit, she also tried to teach me how to put the swirls on those fancy chocolates with creme centers, but I was a dismal failure and my attempts looked more like puckery little blobs. Those were fun and unique Autumn days and we, as little children (and all of our young friends, too), looked forward to our holiday boxes and tins of these delicious, sinful, ultimately perfect treats. I hope you like them as much as my family does.
ANNIE’S CHOCOLATE TURTLE CANDY
Equipment needed – large baking sheets, metal spoons, wooden spoons, measuring spoons, waxed paper, large metal bowls, double boiler, candy tins and boxes.
Cover baking sheets with waxed paper and grease lightly grease waxed paper with margarine.
42 candy caramel squares
3 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (may use toasted walnuts, unsalted almonds, macadamia nuts or hazelnuts)
1 cup milk chocolate morsels or chopped milk chocolate bars
Arrange several nuts, in cluster, on baking sheet. You may use the amount you would like. Place nuts one inch apart or more from each other. Put caramel squares in the double boiler with butter and put over boiling water until completely melted, stirring constantly. When caramels are melted, remove from stove and stir in vanilla. Drop melted caramel in spoonfuls onto nuts until they are thoroughly covered. Let nut clusters cool to a firm, cool stage. Melt the chocolate and butter in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour melted chocolate over nut clusters and cool them on the tray until they are firm. Do not chill in refrigerator as this may discolor the candy clusters. Put in metal tins between squares of wax paper and store in a cool, dry place.
We always loved making these with my Aunt Annie and no holiday was complete without them. I plan to get started on mine in a few days for future gift giving. I wonder if my aunt haunts the old site of the candy factory these days, wandering the halls, checking on equipment, chocolate mixtures, and trekking into the factory to check on the efficiency of present day laborers.
If they hear the sound of her shoes tapping around the chocolate vats, then they know that she’s on the lookout this Halloween season.
- Properly Preparing and Melting Chocolate (berries.com)