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Date Nut Roll Candy is a traditional, Southern candy served during the holidays. This recipe is easy to follow and a family-favorite!
Every year for Christmas, my Grandmother Verdie would spend a day in the kitchen making family-favorite candy recipes that had been given to her from my Granddaddy’s aunt.
As Grandmother would test to see if her candy was ready by dropping bits into a bowl of water to see if it had reached just the right stage, she’d tell us of favorite Christmases when she was a child. She’d tear up and tell us of the year her family had nothing for Christmas, yet the kindness of friends, family and even strangers supplied even more than she could have prayed for that year. She’d continue on to tell us of funny Christmas stories from her childhood and later when she grew up and had a family of her own.
So this year as I am in the kitchen with my Mama and Little Buddy baking and making candies to share with family and friends, I can’t help but think of my Grandmother and even my Great-Great Aunt Lorene whom I never had the opportunity to meet. I think of the strangers who blessed my Grandmother’s family that one special Christmas and for so many years after.
But mostly, I think of my Daddy whose favorite Christmas candy was this Date Nut Roll that Grandmother made each year and I am thankful for the life he lived.
I wish you each a very Merry Christmas and pray you have many blessing in the New Year.
Grandmother’s Date Nut Roll Recipe
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 cup butter
- 8 – 10 ounces dried dates chopped
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Stir milk, sugar and ½ cup (1 stick) of butter together in a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat. Add dates. Stir constantly while cooking until the temperature reaches 235º F on a candy thermometer or when drops of the mixture into a bowl of cold water reach a soft ball stage.
- Remove from heat and add ½ cup (1 stick) of butter and vanilla. Beat until starts to thicken and add chopped pecans.
- Divide onto four baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Carefully spread across parchment paper to form a roll. Roll smoothly and cool completely before slicing.
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My Mother used to make this, so of course I do too, but I roll it in powdered sugar before rolling it in waxed paper. Just adds a little more color to it, and brings back memories!
Thanks for the tip, Mary Kay.
I made this several times, and every time the result/flavor is different, I would say the dates quality makes all the difference, and the color also not as brown. My hubby said the first one I made was the best and I didn’t even use candy thermometer 😁
The quality of the dates could make a difference, Yose.
I am glad I have found this recipe. This is the best Christmas candy I have ever made. The recipe has been in the Lankford and Moore family since I was very young. The candy was always rolled in dish towels and stored in the refrigerator until family get togethers during the holidays. We also roll in powdered sugar.
I love these old recipes, too, David. I hope it brings back many happy memories.
my grandmother stored in fridge in cheese cloth wrapped 3 or more times. After a day paper was used. The color of it was beige not brown. Best I ever ate.
Thanks, Shelby. My grandmother always stored this candy in the refrigerator rolled in parchment paper or waxed paper. This candy always brings back memories of my grandmother.
My dad used to make this recipe when he was a kid and then it has been passed along. Part of the process was to collect black walnuts in the fall when they fell from the trees. We would let them sit until December, shuck the hulls off, then crack them to collect the nuts. The walnuts definitely add add a different flavor (even better than the store bought ones).
Pam, my mother said my grandmother made this candy with black walnuts for several years until she had a hard time finding the walnuts. Then she started making it with the pecans. Mother said it was really good with the walnuts but a completely different flavor. Thanks, Pam, for telling me the story of your dad.
Has anyone tried halving the recipe? Was it successful? Thanks so much
Cheri, I haven’t made half this recipe but you should be able to do that.
this is our Christmas candy. it is yummy!
My grandmother always made this candy at Christmas, too, Kathy.