Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Opera Creams

Candy making is a lost art, but that wasn't the case in the early 1900s when candy (think fudge, divinity, toffee) was commonly made in home kitchens. This is another recipe from the collection of Mrs. W.L. Honsinger who lived in rural Vermont at the turn of the 20th century, and probably found that making candy at home was easier than getting to a store that sold it. Plus, homemade candy then, as now, is much more economical.

This candy is pretty good, and very, very sweet. The centers are very temperamental, and I may have overcooked the sugar syrup so they were less creamy than desired. Still, I had no complaints from my tasters.

Start by boiling the milk, sugar and cream of tarter until the mixture reaches 235 degrees.

Let it cool for 20 minutes and add the vanilla.

For ease of beating, I transferred the mixture to a bowl.

Forming the candy was easy, even though it was a bit too crumbly from overcooking the syrup.

You can get fancy with the chocolate coating (tempering the chocolate, etc.) but I just melted a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips in a double boiler.

The recipe is below, and below that I wrote out clearer instructions. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test the syrup in a glass of cold water (it should form a soft ball when a small spoonful is placed there, but I never found that method reliable).

Opera Creams

2 c sugar
2/3 c milk
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 t. vanilla

Semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

Combine sugar, milk and cream of tarter in a two-quart saucepan. Boil gently, stirring frequently until it reaches 235 to 240 on a candy thermometer.
Set aside for 20 minutes and add vanilla.
Beat until soft and creamy. (You can transfer the mixture into a round bowl for this step.)
Form small balls (using your hands) and chill.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Using a fork, dip the candy, coating completely.
Set aside until the chocolate hardens.


  1. I haven't seen a cooked recipe for Opera Creams in ages Susan. Sure I've seen the recipe in many vintage cookbooks but to see them "in person" once again lights my fire to want to prepare a batch. Thank you so much for sharing, Susan...

  2. I immediately wanted to add some mint extract to the centers for homemade York peppermint patties!

  3. Just looked at the recipe and photos again... I would use bittersweet chocolate or the very darkest chocolate I could find, temper it {ugh} and make the balls much smaller so that the increased ratio of bitter chocolate to filling could counteract the filling's sweetness. Also maybe add a pinch of salt, or maybe sprinkle a little flaky salt on the top, for the same reason. Adding a little oil to the chocolate would make the candies shiny. And I want some now!

    1. Witloof -- All of your suggestions are great and would have resulted in a much better candy! I hate tempering chocolate (what a stressful mess!), so rarely do it, especially when trying to create "home-style" candy (or at least that's my excuse!). And even though I didn't add peppermint, my husband "tasted" it! But that would really make these candies sing. Thanks for writing.