Martha Washington Candy is a classic candy made with chocolate, coconut, and pecans. I simplify the recipe without losing any of that classic taste!
If you want to save this recipe for later, Pin it to your candy or dessert board> Pin Martha Washington Candy recipe
Be sure to check out my gift guide here!
Martha Washington Candy
My Childhood Christmas Memories
While the gifts and toys were nice, looking back, however, my fondest memories are of the family being together; cooking, laughing, reminiscing, and eating. We were always in the kitchen. Maybe, I should have realized then my passion for cooking. Additionally, the clinking and clanking of utensils, pots, and pans, and the talking and laughing, I love the sound of being in the kitchen.
It’s no surprise either that one of my favorite holiday treats is a candy that my mother made every Christmas, but only at Christmas. For that reason, the making of Martha Washington Candy recipe signifies Christmas is near. It is a tradition. As well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. As you know, this candy has been around for years. Most notably, it’s simple yet elegant, quick yet gourmet, and outrageously rich!
This candy recipe is a favorite and cherished family tradition!
Why is it called Martha Washington Candy?
It’s unclear how this particular confection got its name. However, most foodies conclude that it originated in the chain of candy stores named Martha Washington Candies. These stores started opening in the 1890s and were quite popular until the depression hit in the 1920s.
It’s likely that Martha Washington, the person, had little if anything to do with the stores or the candy.
Original Martha Washington Candy Recipe
This is the original recipe that my Mother passed along to me. Be sure to scroll past it to the new, revised, and easier recipe!!
2 boxes powdered sugar
1 cup butter, melted
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 pound chopped pecans
14 ounces coconut
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 lb paraffin
Combine sugar, butter, milk, pecans, and coconut.
Roll into small balls and chill.
Melt chocolate and paraffin in a double boiler.
Dip ball in chocolate and lay on parchment paper to dry.Below is the recipe that I altered. I use Ghirardelli Melting chocolate to dip the truffles in. Simply melt it and dip the candy balls in it then allow them to dry. The recipe below makes half of the original recipe.
More truffle recipes are here and below
Delicious fudge recipes
More reader-favorite recipes
I updated this post from an earlier version dated December 3, 2012. I made new photos and simplified the recipe instructions.
Have you tried this recipe? Please consider leaving a comment and a 5 rating. Your 5-star rating helps others find our recipe when they do a Google search.
Martha Washington Candy
Want to save recipes? Create an account or login & then you can use the “Save Recipe” button when viewing a recipe to save it to your Recipe Box. You can access your saved recipes on any device and generate a shopping list for recipes in your collections.Save To Your Recipe Box Go to your saved recipes
- 4 cup powdered sugar* sifted
- 1/2 cup butter room temp (not melted)
- 6 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 cup coconut** chopped in food processor
- 2 cup chocolate candy melts You can find tips on melting chocolate here. I use Ghirardelli brand.
- Cream sugar and butter together. (This mixture will be thick.)
- Add milk, pecans, and coconut.
- Roll into small balls and chill at least 1 hour.
- Melt chocolate. Dip candy in chocolate and allow to dry on parchment paper.
- Share and Enjoy!
- *If your mixture isn't thick add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until thick (think cookie dough consistency)
- **I use coconut that is found on the baking isle, usually close to chocolate chips and nuts (not frozen).
Can these be frozen after being completely made? If so how long can they be frozen for? Do they look just as good as fresh after being frozen?
They can be frozen, but I found the chocolate does weird things when it’s frozen. I’ve had it get white spots on it and I’ve had it gets ‘sweaty’ when it thaws. For these reasons, I don’t recommend freezing it.
Could the coconut be toasted? Do you think the other ingredients would need to be changed? I’ve never been a fan of coconut but years ago had toasted coconut with chocolate and loved it. I’ve not found them again and this recipe sounds like an amazing way to recreate them.
Yes, you can. Toasted coconut will be drier so you may want to add slightly less powdered sugar in the beginning OR 1 or 2 more tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.
I have been making Martha Washington Candy since the 1960’s with my mama. I only make once a year for Christmas. My family gets upset if I don’t bring a candy tray for the family Christmas dinner. I make several different kinds. I use to make 10-15 different kinds, now I only make 5-6 different ones.
I wonder why they use paraffin in this recipe. It’s in the ingredient list but not the instructions. Do you use paraffin in your recipe?
Scroll down to the new recipe in the recipe box. There isn’t paraffin in my new version
John L Gaines III says
In the original instructions it says – Melt chocolate and paraffin in a double boiler.
I’m sure this is to help the melting process of the chocolate that was available during that time period. We have much different chocolate and even melting chocolate available today.
Stefanie Sanchez says
But what’s the correlation to Martha Washington? I hope there is one. Is this one of her genuine recipes? I really wanted to know that!
I couldn’t find any hard facts on the name origination. However, I believe that is tied to the Martha Washington Candies chain of candy stores that started in the 1890’s rather than to Martha Washington, the person. The stores were booming until the depression hit when they slowly all closed by early in the 1930’s.
I have all the ingredients for these, am going to try soon! Just wondered, do you use the shredded sweetened coconut sold in bags (Baker’s brand, I think)? Do I still have to chop up the coconut in a food processor If I use the shredded coconut? Thank you!
I do use the shredded coconut in a bag (that’s usually in the baking section) You don’t HAVE to chop it in the food processor. I do. I don’t like big pieces of coconut.
Judy P says
I make this every year. But I use cherries in some,peppermint flavor in some,and orange flavor in some,coconut in some and nuts in some.
I almost cried when I saw this on Pinterest. My mother made these every year for Christmas – right after Thanksgiving. She made these and peanut butter balls too. I’ve never had them with cherries either. As we got older she did freeze them and they were just as good. It’s been many years since she’s made them and am so happy to have come across the recipe as I never got it from her, so THANK YOU!!
You are so very welcome! I immediately think of childhood Christmases when I think of them.
I also have always had these with chopped maraschino cherries. I was told that’s where the name originated… because of the cherry tree story.
Aren’t they supposed to have cherries in them too?
I’ve never had them with cherries in them.
Like the “Vicky” above, I am also “Vickie” and have eaten these for decades until my Mother could no longer make them and I am 60! The paraffin was an integral part of making the chocolate shiny and like “fine” candy in the day. My Mother would form the balls of the coconut mixture and refrigerate them overnight with the toothpick in them and then dip them in the chocolate. And hers also froze beautifully and lasted until the last one was eaten-usually by my Dad who would eat them with butter popcorn that Mom popped on the stove top. He loved the salty/sweet thing! Thanks for keeping this recipe alive.
Geri Slavinsky says
is there anything I can substitute for the paraffin?
I use melting chocolate and do not use paraffin. You don’t need it with the melting chocolate.
The Better Baker says
Such a terrific post! I would dive into a plate of these like nobody’s business. OH YUM! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Weekend Potluck.
Can you use cocoa instead of chocolate bits?
You could roll it in cocoa instead of the chocolate candy coating. I actually think that’s a great idea!
Parafin is must with martha washington candy all it does it make the chocolate shiney..it will not harm you in any form or fashion..shoot i am 40 fixin to be 41 an ate them every christmas from time i could rember ..my grandmother made them every year now my mom an me make it .. an it would not be martha washington candy with out chocolate chips.. an i notice you forgot the 1 lg jar of crunchy peanut butter .. that is must also..
Yes…paraffin is still used in some high end chocolates….I personally don’t care for the taste or texture, but I don’t think it will hurt you…..
point of interest re the paraffin: the paraffin was added to the chocolate to make it less easy to melt. A few years ago, Hershey candy company came out with a very special Desert Storm candy bar. It had Lots more paraffin than usual to decreasr its meltability in Iraq. I didnt like the taste, but as the wife of a guy in the U.S.Navy, i appreciated the thought.
Interesting, Linda, thanks for sharing. I actually love food trivia like that. I love the show on Food Network, that shows how candy is made. I can’t think of the name at the moment.
Nan Eves says
Would like to try your M.W. candy recipe, but, being Canadian, I don’t know how much icing sugar is contained in a “box”.
It’s just powdered or confectioner’s sugar. 2 boxes would be the equivalent to about 8 cups. The mixture should be thick enough to form a ball and hold it’s shape. Add extra sugar if needed to get it to this consistancy. Hope this helps.
Keno Moore says
I love chocolate and coconuts
I totally agree! Thanks for stopping by.
My mom has made these for years, too! Somehow I don’t think they’d be as reminiscent of her making them if they didn’t have the paraffin.
On a tangent, just adding the copyright symbol and some words to a website doesn’t actually copyright it. It must be registered and the pages must have the year of publication on them.
I’ve made these for years and they are everyone’s favorite in the gift baskets I give every year. I keep trying to get family members to make them with me so “when I’m gone” the tradition will have been passed down, but to no avail. Maybe by posting your recipe, they will “catch on”, The only thing I do differently is I refrigerate the mixture for less time, maybe about 30 min., make the balls, place them on a cookie sheet, insert toothpicks, put them in the freezer for about 5 or 10 min. then dip them. When they dry (on wax paper) which with the paraffin doesn’t take long I take the toothpick out with a turn and just redip it enough to cover the little whole left from where I took out the toothpick. They freeze extremely well too. I’ve made them well in advance and frozen them and once my husband hid some and forgot and found them a year later and they were still good! No freezer burn and tasted great!!
I’m so glad you posted this! My mom used to make this at Christmas every year too. Then she was diagnosed with diabetes and she destroyed all written copies of her candy recipes and refused to pass on Granma’s recipes. She said she wasn’t going to contribute to any more of us getting diabetes. She was like Granma, she didn’t like to share her personal recipes. Unfortunately when she finally had a change of heart, she couldn’t remember the recipes. Though I still hve got her peanut brittle recipe or Granma’s Never-Fail Divinity recipe at least I have Mom’s bon-bon recipe. That’s what she called them, bon-bons. Your mom didn’t happen to make Vinegar Rolls too did she? I’ve been trying to find a recipe like Mom and Granma .used to make.
I’m so happy I was able to help you with this recipe. Recipes and food is so important in my family memories. The first recipe is the exact recipe my mom and her mom used for years and years. She did not do breads, but I do have my grandmother’s recipes that I’l look through for you. I will let you know if I find it. Thanks for stopping by, Donna.
Louise gray says
You can add a teaspoon of crisco to the chocolate to get the gloss for candy. I do that when I
Make my peanut clusters.
Jodi Stewart says
Wow! Sharing this on facebook and twitter and just pinned it to my high follow board and the board I actually keep things I want to make. Wow!
this is one of my favorite childhood favorits and still is so good and brings back such good memories. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing
Kylee Shaw says
AH! We made bon bons like this growing up and I've since lost the recipe! SO excited to have found this! Can't wait to try it out! I'm a new follower and excited to blog stalk all of your recipes! Please check out my blog at http://www.destinationofdomestication.blogspot.com!
Cranberry Morning says
Oh good grief, that recipe! How irresistible is that! lol
This looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this! I love anything chocolate! This recipe looks easy and fun…..the perfect combination for me!
Have a blessed and very Merry Christmas!
The Mandatory Mooch says
These are so fun, Paula. I have great memories of cooking with my grandma. So fun!! Thanks for linking up to Tasty Thursdays at The Mandatory Mooch. Can't wait to see what you link up this week. Thanks, Nichi
Annamaria @ BakewellJunction says
I love family recipes. These look delicious.
Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says
Good afternoon, Paula! Just dropping by to let you know your recipe will be featured at tomorrow's All my Bloggy Friends – it had the most views last week!
Yum! These look fantastic!
Rachelle Falcon says
Yum these look fabulous! Might have to make these for an upcoming Christmas party!
The Alchemist says
Yum! These looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Becca Acker says
Oh yum, these look and sound sooo good! I think I'll have to pin…
Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says
Thank you for sharing at All my Bloggy Friends this week, Paula 🙂
The Hill Hangout says
I remember when my mother and grandmother made these. I've never had the recipe for them, so I'm glad to have found you on Whimsy Wednesday. Can't wait to make these for my family this Christmas!
Donna Wilkes says
Yum! My favorite two ingredients – chocolate and coconut!
Leslie Stewart says
These look so yummy! Thanks for sharing at my party! I'm going to have to raid your Christmas recipes for the holidays!
Have a great week!
House on the Way
Coconut and Chocolate… YES!
YUM! Those look DELICIOUS! 🙂 What a great memory and tradition! 🙂 Stopping by from SITS.
YUM! Those look DELICIOUS! 🙂 What a great memory and tradition! 🙂 Stopping by from SITS.
Melissa G. says
It seems that the kitchen is the focal point for all of my Christmas memories and it continues to be so. Great recipe and thanks for taking out the parafin! I don't even know where one could buy paraffin
Stopping by from SITS
KK@Student Debt Survivor says
Yum those chocolates look delicious! When I was younger I always used to make Christmas candy with my grandmother. I remember one year we messed up something and the centers turned out far too liquid and didn't set up enough to dip in chocolate. We at the whole bowl of sugary peppermint goo with a spoon.
that looks delicious, will have to try!
Thanks for sharing this recipe! It looks fabulous! Maggie@SquarePennies
Corina Ramos says
I'm definitely trying this recipe for the family this year! Thanks for sharing it with us! It's funny how moms are always in the kitchen cooking it up! That's how it was at our house! Great post!
Eva Gallant says
that candy looks habit-forming!
Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says
I have two sisters and two daughters so “boy” toys are unfamiliar territory for me. I definitely see how remote control cars could be a lot of fun! I love cooking for the holidays. I have never made Martha Washington candy but they look delicious!
I love christmas candy! I will definitely be trying these recipes. Thanks for sharing, and Merry Christmas
I used to love boy's toys as well. My neighbor always had GI Joes and they were so much more fun than any doll. Thanks for the recipes.
Khloé Belle Gadson says
I've just recently discovered my love of baking and I would love to try this so I can mess it up.
I'll tell you how it works for me. 🙂
Those chocolates look absolutely delicious!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. We'll have to give them a try.
Christina Morley says
Sounds delecious! You're lucky your brother let you play with his toys. My brother always told me his toys were better than mine and I usually wasn't allowed to play with his. Even when we got almost the same remote control car, his was blue and mine was red, he would still say that his was better and cooler than mine. Anyway, that's all behind me and now I get to enjoy Christmas with my kids and they are kinder to one another. There's lots more love going around. 🙂
Tina – American mom raising 4 kids in South Africa
Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says
I can totally relate to your Christmas memories! I had 2 brothers, a few female cousins and tons of boy cousins! Boy stuff was much more fun! lol. Pinning your candy recipe and I would definitely use candy melts and not paraffin! 😉
Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm says
We had 6 girls and 1 boy in our family and you are right…boys have the coolest toys!
Love your story! That's also what I loved about Christmas coming, the food, family, laughter! I love this recipe, wow they look so good!
Carol L Dash says
I have been making Martha Washington Chocolates for at least 40 years. I got the recipe from my lead-lady when I was working as a young mother at a potato processing plant in Nampa, ID. She brought a plate of them to our Christmas party one year and I begged her for the recipe and she shared it with me.
I started making them and my siblings wanted copies of the recipe so it has made the rounds! My recipe calls for 1# of powdered sugar (which I have increased) and one cube softened margarine or butter. I use the full pound of nuts but use walnuts instead of pecans and the full 14 oz bag of coconut, as is from the package.
We also use the paraffin along with semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping. It hasn’t caused any health issues using it, and who knows what they put in the melting chocolate to get it to set up hard.
All this said, to say I do not know the history of these delicious candies, but my immediate family continues to make these every year. It started with my children then grew to include their children and now it includes their children–4 generation of us make Christmas Goodies together every year! Wonderful memories!
Lorene McCoy says
I too grew up seeing my Mom making Martha Washington Candy. So great to see this recipe again. Can’t wait to try it.