I found these recipes for Molasses candy in “The Candy-Maker: A Practical Guide to the Manufacture of the Various Kinds of Plain and Fancy Candy.” 1878. Please reply in the comments section if you try any of these and which you like best. Also, if you have any memories that involve molasses candy I’d love to hear them. At the end of the story, it is saying to “boil to the ball.” I did some research and this seems to mean that when you drop the molasses into cold water to cool it down it will form a soft ball.
These are the easiest to make. They can be produced at a very low cost, and they sell readily, especially to the juvenile population.
Old-fashioned Molasses Candy
This is made of “West India molasses”—in other words of the poorer molasses, as there is a flavor about this kind of molasses when boiled which is in itself an attractive quality. But it can be made of New Orleans molasses, or Sugar-House drips, or coffee sugar, if desired.
Into an eight-quart kettle put two quarts of molasses and boil over a slack fire from twenty-five to thirty-five minutes. Test it after it has boiled twenty minutes by taking some out on the end of a clean splinter or spoon, and dipping it into cold water. If it harden quickly and break short between the teeth it is boiled enough. This is “boiling to the crack.” When the molasses is boiled to this point, put in a teaspoonful of baking soda, and stir it all well, and pour it out into oiled or buttered tins.
If you are making a larger quantity, pour upon a marble slab. When somewhat cooled, take up the candy with your hands well buttered or oiled, and pull and double-pull and double, and so on until the candy is white. Small quantities can be pulled simply in the hands, but large quantities are thrown over a strong hook, the candy pulled, doubled, and the two strands so made thrown back continuously by a dextrous motion until it is white, or whitish yellow at any rate, in which condition it is old fashioned molasses candy.
This is now out of fashion in many parts of the country, but is still a favorite in out of the way places. It is only “Old Fashioned Molasses Candy” cut in strips and rolled or twisted. Sometimes it is made by boiling about one quarter as much sugar, separately, to the crack, pouring it on over the pulled molasses candy, cutting it into strips when cool enough, and twisting up.
Another Molasses Candy (white)
4 lbs. light brown sugar, 1 quart West India molasses. Boil to the crack, and test by cold water as before. Add a teaspoonful of baking soda. Pull on the hook, or if in small quantity between the hands, until it is white.
This can be made still more white by using white sugar (Havana, granulated or confectioners’ A).
Molasses Candy, Soft Boiled
1 quart molasses.
1 oz. butter.
1 teaspoonful baking soda.
1 drop lemon essence.
Boil to the ball. Put on ice in summer to cool sufficiently to cut and pack in prepared (oiled) paper.