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Martha Washington Candies

Martha Washington Candies are a classic Christmas treat that has been around for years. Mrs. Martha know how to make a delicious candy full of coconut, pecans, and cherries. Today I’m sharing the keys to success with you. 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Jennifer

  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package (14 oz) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar (10 oz) maraschino cherries drained and chopped
  • 3 cups pecans finely chopped
  • 16 oz chocolate coating melted
  1. Combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and pecans in a large bowl. Gently stir in chopped cherries. 
  2. Refrigerate at least two hours. 
  3. Use small cookie scoop to portion out filling then roll into balls and place on wax paper-covered cookie sheets.
  4. Refrigerate on cookie sheets for at least 20 minutes until firm.
  5. Melt chocolate coating in microwave. Dip balls into chocolate coating then tap off the excess. Place chocolate-covered balls on waxed paper until firm. 

The filling for Martha Washington Candy is a creamy mixture of melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, and powdered sugar. Then the classic recipe calls for the addition of shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and maraschino cherries. 

This flavor combination works so well with the sweet and creaminess of the filling. You can customize the add-ins if you’d like. If you want more of an Almond Joy flavor, you can skip the cherries and substitute almonds for the pecans. 

Key to Success #1 – Dry the Cherries Well
In order for your Martha Washington Candy to hold together, you want to make sure the filling doesn’t have a lot of extra moisture in it.

Use a mesh strainer to drain the jar of maraschino cherries. After the cherries are well-drained, put them on a cutting board and chop them finely. Then use a paper towel to blot the cherries to dry them well. 

Key to Success #2 – Make it Chilly
One important key to the success of your Martha Washington Candies is refrigerating the filling before you portion it into balls. It’s important for the filling to be firm when you roll them up so that they can be dipped in chocolate. 

After you mix up the filling, refrigerate it for at least two hours. After that time, scoop out a little bit of filling and see if it can easily be rolled into a tight ball. You can add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if needed. (I normally don’t add extra powdered sugar.)

Key to Success #3 – Make ’em Small
Martha Washington Candies can be a bit rich so I suggest making small balls. I use a small cookie scoop to portion out the filling. The cookie scoop that I have will hold about 2 teaspoons of filling. I think it’s a good size but you could go even smaller if you’d like. 

I scoop out the proper portion of filling using the small cookie scoop then I go back and roll the filling into tight balls using my hands. I think this helps make tight and evenly-sized Martha Washington Candy balls. 

Key to Success #4 – Chill Again
Before you tip the Martha Washington Candy into chocolate, you’ll want to make sure they are cold. This will allow to the chocolate to set quickly so that the candies will hold together.

After the Martha Washington filling has been rolled into balls, chill them in the refrigerator again for at least 20 minutes. Work in batches so that you only have a few candies out of the refrigerator at a time. 

Key to Success #5 – Chocolate Full On
Working with a few candies at a time, dip each Martha Washington candy into chocolate then set on waxed paper to cool and set. 

I have a Ateco chocolate dipping tool set that I really like for making chocolates. If you don’t have any special tools, you can use a fork and a knife to do your dipping.

It’s important that you get the filling completely covered with chocolate coating so that the filling doesn’t start to leak. I had a candies that started to leak but I was able to re-dip them into the chocolate to cover the spot that were leaking. 

Martha Washington Candies make a pretty presentation on a Christmas dessert table. Just pile them on a pretty platter and watch them get gobbled up. They also make a great homemade gift for Christmas! 

Be sure to pin this recipe so that you can find it later!


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