I’ll be with a group of adults and children on Saturday and I think they might appreciate the addition of some candy to our picnic. Candy is best made when the weather is dry — not humid. Today was such a day so I decided to make Maggie Wisdom’s Butter Scotch using the recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I put the 2 cups of brown sugar and 1 cup (1/2 lb) of butter in a sauce pan on low heat. Once everything melted I turned the heat up to medium. I didn’t add the vinegar right away as usually that type of acid ingredient is added once the candy reaches the correct temperature. I tested it a couple of times by added a few drops to a cup of cold water until it reached the “crisp” stage. Then I added the vinegar and watched it foam. I stirred it down until smooth and then poured onto a greased cookie sheet. I let it cool a little and then marked it into squares.
Maggie Wisdom has a wonderful name. It sounds like something out of a story book. Everyone in the family has interesting names at least based on what is recorded in the 1911 census. Father is Jabez age 65 and his occupation is listed as fisher. Mother is 64-year-old Melicant Anne and like most homemakers she’s listed as occupation none. The eldest daughter is Margaret Amilea age 37 and she works as a shirt maker in a factory. I think she is likely the contributor of this recipe. The next child is Kate Sanager (34) and she’s at home, then Mabel (30) is a hat maker in a factory and finally the youngest daughter at home is Lilyan (27) is a button holer in a factory. Based on the Waterloo Generations website there is a fifth daughter in the family. She is Edith Cecelia and was born the year the family emigrated. She was likely already married to William Graber and living elsewhere by the time of the census. The Wisdom family live at 16 Courtland Avenue. They all emigrated from England in 1885 and are Presbyterians. They are living in the village of Paisley in Bruce County for the 1901 census. At least Jabez, Mellicent, Catherine (25) who is probably called Kate in the 1911 census, Lilley and Edith are there but not Margaret or Mabel. I did find a Maggie and Mable but they are the daughters of another couple and live in Toronto.
I would love to know more about Maggie Wisdom. She never married and died of breast cancer in 1933 still living at 16 Courtland Avenue West. I once lived in a house across the street from her home. It was a vacant lot at the time but I was told that the each house had once had its mirror image across the street. What was her life like in between 1911 and 1933? What about the rest of her sisters? Did they marry? When did they make this candy?
This recipe makes delicious candy. I’m not sure I made butter scotch as my candy is a little chewy. Perhaps I’ve made butter scotch caramels instead. I should have cooked it just a little longer to get the firmer style of butterscotch. However, it is still good and will probably be enjoyed by my Saturday tasters just as much this way. That’s if it lasts that long! I really like Maggie Wisdom’s Butter Scotch so will have to hide it from myself to ensure there is any left.
UPDATE: Although some butterscotch candy was left by Saturday, I decided to make some more. This time I cooked it a little longer and added the vinegar at the beginning. The result was a darker and more caramel flavoured candy. I was able to score the hard candy with a sharp knife and then break it along the score marks. This was a candy to crunch rather than chew. It was a big hit with some children and a few adults at the picnic. This recipe is a keeper whether the candy turns out chewy or crunchy.
2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 pound butter, 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Boil without stirring till it is crisp when dropped in water.