Old-Time Chocolate Molasses Chews

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dish of old fashioned chocolate covered candies

These old-timey candies are kind of like Storck’s chocolate-covered riesen, but with strong notes of molasses. They’re one part treat and one part granny candy. If you like molasses, chances are, you’ll love these. They’re sweet, but not too sweet.

For this recipe, squares of chocolate caramel get all dressed up in chocolate. They’re chewy and chocolate-y and have a deep, sweet earthiness from a generous amount of molasses.

fresh chocolate covered bon bon


The caramel is really easy to make. Basically, you toss the ingredients in a pot over medium heat, and stir constantly until it reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour into a pan and cool for a little bit, then whack into squares. Enjoy as is, or take an extra step and dip them in chocolate.

This is my take on a recipe from 1881 that the New York Times recently reprinted. You can also download a PDF file of the original recipe from The Times’ website. According to the newspaper, the novel thing about the recipe at the time was the chocolate, which was hard to come by—not the molasses.

batch of chocolate caramels

Temper the chocolate before dipping

For extra pretty candies, temper the chocolate for the coating when you melt it. Tempering chocolate is a way of raising and lowering the temperature of the chocolate as it melts to help stabilize the chocolate’s crystalline structure. This helps ensure a smooth, glossy surface and a nice snap.

Tempering chocolate also helps avoid that white “bloom” that chocolate sometimes gets (which is still perfectly edible, but not that attractive). Here’s a good video from Chow on how to do it:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3UDSd4pNEI[/youtube]

Old-Time Chocolate Molasses Chews

Adapted from The New York Times

3 Tbls. butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
4 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup molasses
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, for dipping

Yields 80-100 pieces, depending on how large you cut them

Generously butter an 8-inch x 8-inch glass baking pan. Set it aside.

buttered baking dish

Make the chocolate caramel

Put 3 Tablespoons of butter, the bittersweet chocolate, milk, molasses, and sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. (I used a 3-quart pot.)

chocolate butter and milk in a pot

pour the molasses into the pot

Set it on the stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until the ingredients melt together and are uniform.

whisk the caramel constantly

Clip on a candy thermometer (I like to do this once the ingredients are completely melted. Makes it easier to get all the bits as they melt.) Keep the heat on medium. And keep stirring.

candy thermometer in pot

Eventually, the caramel will come to a rolling boil. Leave the heat on medium. (Resist the urge to crank it up! You risk scorching the caramel.) Continue to stir constantly, making sure to scrape at the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.

boiling chocolate caramel

As it cooks, the mixture will get thicker. Continue to boil, stirring, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees.

pot of boiling chocolate caramel

When it hits 248 degrees, yank the pot off the stove. The mixture will be very thick. Stir in the vanilla. (Be careful! Hot sugar is like napalm.)

chocolate caramel and whisk

Pour the hot mixture into your buttered baking dish.

pouring chocolate caramel into buttered pan

Smooth the top down with a spatula. Let it sit on the counter to cool.

pan of chocolate caramel

hot chocolate caramel

Cut the caramel into squares

When it’s cool enough to touch comfortably, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the caramel. It will wrinkle up a little. That’s just fine. (You can smooth it out later.)

loosen caramel with a knife

Flip the pan over and remove the square of caramel. If it’s sticking, nudge under one edge with a dinner knife to get it moving.

With a buttered butcher knife (or kitchen scissors), cut the caramel into 3/4-inch wide strips.

strip of chocolate caramel

Then cut the strips into squares. (Give one a taste. They’re earthy and molasses-y. They were a little plain for my taste, kind of like a Tootsie Roll. This is when I decided to notch it up a bit and dip them in chocolate.)

cutting chocolate caramel

The edges on the caramels will be a little raggy from cutting.

square of chocolate caramel

Just smoosh the edges down with your fingers to smooth them out.

smooth edges on caramel

single piece of chocolate caramel

Repeat with the rest of the caramel.

chocolate caramel squares on cutting board

chocolate caramels on wooden board

If you’re going to wait to dip them in chocolate (or skip that step altogether if you want to keep them plain), store them in an airtight container between sheets of wax or parchment paper.

caramel on wax paper

pile of chocolate caramels

Dip the caramels in chocolate

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Melt about 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. (I do this in the microwave for about a minute on 50% power, stirring every 10 seconds or so. You can also melt them in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.)

melting chocolate chips

Temper the chocolate if you like (see above for more info on how to do that).

melted chocolate

Take one of the caramels.

chocolate caramel and melted chocolate

Put the caramel with the top facing down in the chocolate (that way, when you flip it over, you get a nice chocolate swirl on top of the candy). Press it down so it sinks in a little.

chocolate caramel in melted chocolate

With a kitchen fork, turn the caramel over to coat the bottom, and lift it out of the chocolate. Set it on your parchment-lined pan. If you don’t like the swirl on top, just fix it with your finger.

coat the caramel in chocolate

Repeat with the rest of the caramels.

chocolate covered dishes

Let them sit overnight, uncovered, until the chocolate hardens.

chocolate dipped caramels on parchment paper

Store in a cool place between layers of wax paper in an airtight tin. They’ll keep well for about a month.

chocolate swirl on candy

Enjoy! (And watch your fillings!)

chocolate covered caramel close up

pan of fresh chocolate covered caramels


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I think I just died because they look so sinfully delicious! I really need to invest in a candy thermometer, I think this house would be filled with all kinds of chocolate candies 🙂

  2. Holy moly…Molasses Chews are my all time FAVORITE chocolate candy! I’m currently on a diet, but as soon as I can eat sugar again, these are on my to-do list! Thank’s so much for posting this! =)

  3. This recipe is great, I have tried it a few times. But I haven’t managed to get it consistently. Sometimes I make this recipe, checking the temperature carefully and the toffees just never get hard enough! any tips? i can cut the toffees and form them, but after some hours they start to sag. Maybe this wouldn’t be noticeable if they were dipped in hard chocolate, but I would like to find a way to be sure they keep their shape. Also they’re always quite sticky until dipped, does everyone have the same experience? Any advice would be much appreciated.
    In my old toffee recipe i used some powdered sugar, maybe that helps to make them more solid?

  4. I just got done making these tonight & all I can say is YUMMY!!! My ex father in law makes molasses so I was excited when I found a recipe to use up all this molasses he had gave me lol. I will definitely be putting this recipe in my book of favorites & I’m sure (after I take them to the next stir off) I will be making a lot more of them or giving the recipe to a lot of people.

    • you could but they’d warm up the ambient temp of your fridge (not so good for any other tasty treats you have in there 😛 best bet is to rest it in a bigger bowl filled with cold (or ice ) water

  5. Just finished making these. Look delicious!! Perfect recipe came out exactly like pictures. Waiting for chocolate to set. Added a sprinkle of sea salt on top of the freshly dipped chews. Think its gonna be GREAT!! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Oh boy! I’m such a fan that I buy the boxes of Russell Stover candies (the nuts & chews, and the dark chocolate assortment) *just* for the molasses chews! (OK, AND the Roman nougats too.) I never thought I’d be able to duplicate them at home, but here it is: a homemade version. 🙂 I can’t wait to try them!

    • My son loves the Molasses Chews in the Whitman Sampler, so I am glad that you commented about the Molasses Chews. I am going to make these for him and hope they are just as good.

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