Food Feedback: Santa loves hardtack, too
Dolly Ganster pours the hot candy from the pan while her grandson, Kenton Ganster, helps her scrape it out.
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Hi, Kathleen Ganster. My name is Holly Santa and I just want to tell you I read your article ["Hardtack is a tradition for this family" in Food & Flavor, Dec. 13] and really enjoyed it. I used to do that with my family growing up. I continue to make the candy every Christmas, only I do not have as many hands as you -- I wish I did. I told my family that next year we are going to make it together like we used to. Thank you for the article. Merry Christmas!
Your article brought back many memories. We used to have this tradition in our family but sadly, it fell by the wayside as my sisters and I started our families and it was just too much to take on with everything else going on during the holidays. Cinnamon was also my favorite but we used to make a flavor that used brown sugar and peppermint (not sure of the exact recipe) that was outstanding as well.
I like your pizza cutter idea. We used to roll out the candy into logs and use scissors to cut into bite-size pieces. By the end of the day our fingertips were raw from handling the hot candy.
Thanks for sharing. I plan on sending the link to this story to my sisters and maybe getting the tradition re-started.
I so enjoyed your column on hardtack candy and family production. Actually, it brought tears to my eyes, because my Mother made hardtack and fudge, both chocolate and peanut butter. The fudge-making was not the ceremony of the hardtack. My job was to crack it on the chrome-topped kitchen table. I remember being about 8 the first time I was assigned that task. My only sister lives in St. Louis and we talk daily and yesterday she asked if I had any idea about our Mom's recipe for hardtack. My mother died when I was graduating from high school and thus none of those recipes lived on. I have copied your recipe and have it in an envelope to send off to St. Louis.
Thank you for sharing and let your tradition live on. I wish ours had, but it wasn't in the grand scheme of things!
I have made hardtack every Christmas with my three boys for years. It was much like a science experiment for them, turning three simple ingredients into something so delicious. They each pick a flavor, and yes we have discovered that cooling outdoors (in the grill) is effective -- and less burning of the eyes occurs. My oldest son is now in college and we made Allegheny College's colors for his graduation party this past summer. I am planning a trip to Make a Cake this week to purchase this year's flavors! Don't feel alone in your hardtack making -- it is such a great tradition!
Another favorite cookbook
[Re: "Our favorite cookbooks of the year" in Food & Flavor, Dec. 13, and Sunday Magazine, Dec. 16:] I recently purchased "Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast" (Harvard Common, Feb. 2012, $24.95). It is really a great book, highlighting the best of British ingredients and dishes.
MICHELE GABLE NAPOLI
First Published December 20, 2012 12:00 am