Make Your Own Victorian Candy

Victorian Candy Lady

Eating Taffy

Now is the joyous season of the year when, if you are only acquainted with the precious secret of their preparation, you can make for yourself, with ten minutes’ work, candies more delicious than were purchased at the most expensive confectioners’. The latter never have this particular sort of candies for sale, because they will not keep. But, fresh cooked, they are morsels for the gods, and this is the way to make them:

Take some big strawberries, ripe but firm, and hull them. Then mix two cupfuls of granulated sugar with a little less than one cupful of cold water. Put the mixture on a hot fire and let it boil hard, without stirring, until a spoonful dropped into cold water crystallizes to the brittle point immediately. Now take it off the fire and pour it into cups, previously warmed in the oven. Dip the strawberries one by one into this hot solution as quickly as possible, fishing them out with forks and laying them on greased tin pans.

The briefest sort of immersion will be sufficient to give each berry the desired coating of sugar candy. Finally, set the pans on the ice in the refrigerator, and as soon as the fruit is cold it will be ready to eat.  Perhaps “gobble” would be a more appropriate word, considering the eagerness with which such strawberries are usually consumed. In very truth, they are not rivaled by any other kind of sugar plums, as you will yourself confess if you try them. Malaga grapes and nuts as well may be treated in the same way.

From the same 19th Century Almanac, a column from the same time period, newspaper unknown.

Sweets for the Sweet

Butter Scotch: One cup of molasses, one cup sugar, one-half cup butter; boil until it snaps in water.

Molasses Candy: One-half pound sugar, one-quarter pound butter, one quart molasses. Boil until it cracks in water. Pull until nearly white.

Taffy: Melt in stew pan, three ounces butter, and one pound moist sugar; stir well over slow fire. Boil one-quarter hour. Pour out in buttered dish and mark in squares.

Almond Candy: Proceed in the same way as for coconut candy. Let the almonds be perfectly dry, and do not throw them into the sugar until it approaches the candying point.

Maple Candy: Four cups of maple sirup, boil until it cracks in water, and just before taking from the fire put in a piece of butter the size of an egg. If preferred waxy do not let it cook so long.

Chocolate Caramels: One-half pound grated chocolate, two teacups sugar, one-half cup milk and water, large lump butter. Boil without stirring until done. Then pour into pans, and, when nearly cold mark out into squares.

Sugared Pop-Corn: One cup sugar, one-half cup water, one tablespoonful vinegar. Let boil until a drop hardens in water. Pile the pop-corn up in a meat-dish, pour syrup over and the corn will stick together. If the syrup is too thick, thin it with hot water.

A Christmas Legend: Where the Baboushka Dwells

Old Victorian Christmas Image

Old Victorian Christmas Image

The little Ouralian chain of mountains called by Russians “Semenoi Poias,” or the girdle of the earth, has given birth to a remarkable figure. The Baboushka lived there eighteen hundred years ago. The Baboushka lives there still.

As this Christmas legend of a woman is little known, let me translate for you the tale of an old Russian woman.

At the foot of the world’s girdle, surrounded by bushes of wild apricot, cherry, gooseberry, and currant, stood a small mud cottage. Its roof was shadowed by a graceful elm-tree. Before its door slept, for eight months in the year, a frozen stream. Its one window commanded a wide view of the distant plains. Its one chimney emitted smoke of a faint, blue colour. Its one inhabitant was the Baboushka!

The Baboushka was a “mujic” or peasant. She wore a caftan of coarsely woven wire-cloth edged with fur. Her boots were of untanned leather and reached to her knees. Her hair, braided in tiny plaits, hung beneath a helmet of undressed skins, while down her back was fastened a hood of sheep wool.

One morning, many, many years ago, the Baboushka was busy at her daily tasks. The samooa (or tea-urn) had to be brightened. The lemons had to be sliced. The rye seeds had to be bruised for her daily supply of black bread. The frozen butter in a keg had to be thawed.

Suddenly, from far up the world’s girdle, the Baboushka heard a sound of sleigh bells. They came on but slowly, not driven like the wind as usual.

Then down the hillside swept a long procession. Camels were there from the east country with humps and leathery necks. Tamed wolves from the Steppes were there. Horses were there, stepping daintily through the dazzling snow; above all hung the northern lights, yellow, green, and red.

The Baboushka tried to hide herself. Then stopped the procession at her door; and one, a very beautiful one, called out her name.

“Baboushka, come with us! We are on our way to find the Christ-Child.”

But the flame-coloured tunic of the beautiful one frightened the old woman.

“I will come, but not now,” she pleaded, stretching up her hands. “I have my house to set in order; when this is done I will follow and find Him.”

Thus the first one thousand past. The second wiseman in his cloak of divers colours stopped at her door.

“Baboushka! We are on our way to find the Christ-Child. We have seen His star in the east. Come with us?”

But the Baboushka trembled still more. The animal figures on the robe of the terrible one frightened her.

“I will come, but not now.” she replied. “I have my house to set in order. When this is done, I will follow and find him.”

When the second thousand had passed, the third magi stopped at her door. His robe of deep yellow, bordered with white, azure, and green, shone in the light.

“Baboushka, come with us! We are on our way to find the Christ-Child. We have seen His star in the east and go down to worship Him.”

But the Baboushka quaked exceedingly.

“I will come, but not now,” she promised. “I have to set my house in order. When that is done, I will follow and find Him.”

Then across the wide desert went the three kings, the beautiful one, the terrible one, and the wise one.

The Baboushka set her house in order. She extinguished the charcoal and guarded the lamp, emptied the samooa and took up the cake-bread. Then she went outside. Alas! the three kings had long passed away. And in the darkened heavens no longer shone the star. Across the wild Steppes, stumbling wildly, fled the Baboushka.

The constellations twinkled. The northern lights blazed. The moon shone, but she heeded not. She wished to find the Christ-Child but found Him not.

Still lives the Baboushka. She searches still. For the sake of the Christ-Child, she takes care of all God’s children. On the eve of the Nativity she visits every house in which the little ones be. For His sake she fills their stockings and dresses the trees. Children are awakened by the cry, “Behold the Baboushka!” But though they find her gifts she has ever vanished.

In this way she searches for the Christ-Child whom once she neglected. In each poor little one whom she warms and feeds she hopes to find Him. But she is doomed to eternal disappointment. Never in her ears sounds the comforting “inasmuch.” Not until the stars of heaven are falling. Not till the Steppes of Russia roll away as a scroll. Not till the work of the centuries is done and all the world set in order, will the Baboushka find the Christ-Child.

Lina Orman Cooper, as published in The Girl’s Own Paper, 1892

Plum Pudding and Other Receipts for Christmas

Victorian Trade Card - Cats and Plum Pudding

Victorian Trade Card - Cats and Plum Pudding

From Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, December 1859.

Old English Christmas Plum Pudding — To make what is termed a pound pudding, take raisins well stoned, currants thoroughly washed, one pound each; chop a pound of suet very finely and mix with them; add a quarter of a pound of flour, or bread very finely crumbled, three ounces of sugar, one ounce and a half of grated lemon-peel, a blade of mace, half a small nutmeg, one teaspoonful of ginger, half a dozen eggs well beaten; work it well together, put it into a cloth, tie it firmly, allowing room to swell, and boil not less than five hours. It should not be suffered to stop boiling.

A Rich Christmas Pudding — One pound of raisins stoned, one pound of currants, half a pound of beef-suet, quarter of a pound of sugar, two spoonfuls of flour, three eggs, a cup of sweetmeats, and a wineglass of brandy. Mix well, and boil in a mould of eight hours.

Boiled Plum Pudding — The crumbs of a small loaf, half a pound each of sugar, currants raisins, and beef-suet shred, two ounces of candied peel, three drops of essence of lemon, three eggs, a little nutmeg, a tablespoonful of flour. Butter the mould, and boil them five hours. Serve with brandy-sauce.

A Good Christmas Pudding — One pound of flour, two pounds of suet, one pound of currants one pound of plums, eight eggs, two ounces of candied peel, almonds and mixed spice according to taste. Boil gently for seven hours.

Mince Pies — Take a pound of beef, free from skin and strings, and chop it very fine; then two pounds of suet, which likewise pick and chop; then add three pounds of currants nicely cleaned and perfectly dry, one pound and a half of apples, the peel and juice of a lemon, half a pint of sweet wine, half a nutmeg, and a few cloves and mace, with pimento in fine powder; have citron, orange, and lemon-peel ready, and put some in each of the pies when made.

Mincemeat — Six pounds of currants, three pounds of raisins stoned, three pounds of apples chopped fine, four pounds of suet, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of beef, the peel and juice of two lemons, a pint of sweet wine, a quarter of a pine of brandy, half an ounce of mixed spice. Press the whole into a deep pan when well mixed.

Pumpkin Pudding — Take one pint of pumpkin that has been stewed soft and pressed through a colander; melt in half a pint of warm milk, quarter of a pound of butter and the same quantity of sugar, stirring them well together; one pint of rich cream will be better than milk and butter; beat eight eggs very light, and add them gradually to the other ingredients alternately with the pumpkin; then stir in a wineglass of rose water and two glasses of wine mixed together, a large teaspoonful of powdered mace and cinnamon mixed, and a grated nutmeg. Having stirred the whole very hard, put it into a buttered dish, and bake it three-quarters of an hour.

Little Plum Cakes to Keep Long — Dry one pound of flour, and mix with six ounces of finely-pounded sugar; beat six ounces of butter to a cream, and add to three eggs well beaten, half a pound of currants washed and nicely dried, and the flour and sugar; beat all for some time, then dredge flour on tin plates, and drop the batter on them the size of a walnut. If properly mixed, it will be a stiff paste. Bake in a brick oven.

Twelfth Cake

To two ounces of flour well sifted unite
Of loaf-sugar ounces sixteen;
Two pounds of fresh butter, with eighteen fine eggs,
And flour pounds of currants washed clean;
Eight ounces of almonds well blanched and cut small,
The same weight of citron sliced;
Of orange and lemon-peel candied one pound,
And a gill of pale brandy uniced;
A large nutmeg grated; exact half an ounce
Of allspice, but only a quarter
Of mace, coriander, and ginger well ground,
Or pounded to dust in a mortar.
An important addition is cinnamon, which
Is better increased than diminished;
The fourth of an ounce is sufficient. Now this
May be baked four good hours till finished.

Cranberry Pudding — Boil one pint and a half of cranberries cleared of the stalks in four ounces of sugar and water, until they are broken and form a kind of jam; make up a large ball of it; cover it well with rice washed clean and dry; then round each fold a floured piece of cloth, which tie as for dumplings. Boil them one hour; sift sugar over when served, and butter in a boat.

Imperial Gingerbread — Rub six ounces of butter into three-quarters of a pound of flour; then mix six ounces of treacle with a pint of cream carefully, lest it should turn the cream; mix in a quarter of a pound of double-refined sugar, half an ounce of powdered ginger, and one ounce of caraway-seeds; stir the whole well together into a paste, cut it into shapes, and stick cut candied orange or lemon-peel on top.

Make a Victorian Braided Rug

A Victorian Braided Rug

Figure 1

Those acquainted with the manner of making the “quilled braid,” as it was called in the old days, can apply it to the manufacture of beautiful and serviceable rugs, for parlor or sitting-room floor. The materials required are wide, woolen braid or strips of cloth of two or more colors, a piece of canvas or carpeting for the foundation, and strong thread.


Figure 2

The accompanying figures clearly show the modus operandi of plaiting the braids, if any are unacquainted with the simple performance.

Scarlet and black, green and brown, or a row each of various colors, will all be found beautiful for these braids, which, when finished are sewn on the foundation which has been cut to proper form; a tasteful one of which is shown in Fig. 1. The form of arranging the braids, which are shown in one-half size in the diagrams 2 and 3, is plainly marked in the illustration of the rug.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Where such rugs are made of old cloth, (which, by-the-way, will be found a most useful manner of utilizing old fragments or pieces of discarded garments) they must be cut into strips and run together along the edges, thus making long inch-wide pieces, of which the braids are plaited. The edge is finished with cloth pinked-out on the edge, or perhaps merely cut into points and sewed around the foundation beneath the first and outer row of braids.

From “Beautiful Homes,” 1877

Help! My Neighbors are Obnoxious!


Beautiful Back Windows

To shut out a disagreeable view from a back window, the glass may be rendered ornamental, and the obnoxious objects shut out, by a very simple plan, which makes a very fair imitation of ground glass. This is effected by cutting out stars or diamonds upon a piece of white muslin, tarlatan, or common tissue-paper, which is then gummed or pasted on to each pane of glass, the great point being to get the gum or paste as colorless as possible. By washing the glass over with a hot, saturated solution of Epsom salts, or sal ammoniac, or Glauber’s salts, or blue stone, very beautiful effects of crystallization can be obtained, by which also the above purpose is served in shutting out an obnoxious view, and the window has also a very ornamental appearance. By a saturated solution is meant one containing as much of the salt as the water will dissolve. The solution must be applied while hot, and with a brush. Be careful not to use salts of a deliquescent* nature.

To aid our readers in making their choice of crystals, we give a diagram, in which Fig. 1 represents the crystals formed by the sal ammoniac, Fig. 2 those formed by Epsom salts (four-sided prisms’) ; Fig. 3, the crystals of Glauber’s salts (six-sided prisms).

Figure 1, the crystals formed by the sal ammoniac.

Figure 1, the crystals formed by the sal ammoniac.

Figure 2, formed by Epsom salts (four-sided prisms).

Figure 2, formed by Epsom salts (four-sided prisms).

Figure 3, the crystals of Glauber's salts (six-sided prisms).

Figure 3, the crystals of Glauber’s salts (six-sided prisms).

* deliquescent: Dissolves and become liquid by absorbing moisture from the air.

Source: The Cottage Hearth, 1876.

Editors Note: Articles are provided for their historic value. Often ingredients described are no longer easily available and/or they have been proven to be dangerous to use.

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