Cream Pull Candy - Gastro Obscura
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Cream Pull Candy

Kentucky's melt-in-your-mouth treats date back to the 1800s.

Heavy whipping cream turns into melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, vanilla-flavored magic when crafting cream pull candy. This antique confection traces its origins to central Kentucky, likely from the early 1800s. Traditionally, two candy-makers tag-teamed the “pull” part by stretching the concoction (cooked cream, sugar, and vanilla, cooled on a marble slab) into a thin rope. Then, they cut the candy into bite-sized pieces and left it overnight, transforming its taffy-like bite into a melty buttercream by morning.

The art of pulling the creamy, homemade treat traveled through generations, as did the marble slabs needed to complete the task. By the 1880s, family recipes for cream pull candy were being printed in state-centric cookbooks. The early companies that brought cream pull candy acclaim are the ones that continue to stock Kentuckian shelves today.

Rebecca Ruth Candies began a century ago, when Rebecca Gooch and Ruth Hanly Booe left their teaching jobs in Louisville to make candy by hand (Booe would go on to invent the now-iconic Kentucky bourbon ball). Two years later, Ruth Hunt of Mt. Sterling started pulling cream candy in her basement, then opened shop in 1930. She created the state’s most iconic cream pull candy offering, Blue Monday. The chocolate-dipped bar got its name after a preacher stopped into Hunt’s store to cure his weekday malaise with something sweet. In the 1940s, Maxine “Mom” Blakeman became the final well-known, old-school cream pull candy maker, operating from her Lancaster home and restaurant. All three versions remain available in stores scattered across the state, especially around Christmas.

The commercial producers that once delivered cream pull candy on horse and buggy now manufacture their products with the help of taffy-pulling machines, but the confections retain their old-timey charm. And at-home cooks still work the old-fashioned way: When it comes time to pull, recruit a candy-pulling hook (like the kind used to make melcocha), or better yet, a second pair of hands.

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