In the Kitchen with Nana

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and this year instead of buying chocolates for friends and loved ones, you may want to consider making your own.

Throughout this post, I’m In the Kitchen with Nana better known around these parts as Nana Banana (my mom).

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These delicious looking chocolates are called Martha Washingtons, a classic recipe that has been around for years.

I got my first taste of Martha Washingtons thanks to my late grandmother who used to make them every year for everyone in the family.

I love great packaging and these candies look fantastic when packed up for gift giving.

I’ll show you how I boxed everything up for a wonderful presentation, further down in this post.

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Since this is a recipe my grandmother often used, I thought it would be fun to enlist the help of another family member to help out.

Many of you may recall meeting my mom, Elaine in previous posts.  She won’t mind if you call her by her nickname, Nana Banana.

Nana Banana will walk you through this candy making tutorial which also includes a wee musical twist a little further down in this post.

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Let’s start with the ingredients.  You’ll need 2 cups of flaked coconut, 3 cups chopped pecans, 2 boxes confectioners sugar, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 stick melted butter, 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping and mini-candy papers.

You’ll also need some food grade paraffin wax (optional) which I’ll explain in greater detail in just a bit.

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The pecans need to be finely chopped and a food processor works great for getting the nuts into the perfect size for this recipe.

This also was a good a chance to finally put my food processor to work since I don’t use it very often.

Blog martha washington nuts

Mix the sugar, coconut, condensed milk and butter together.  Add the pecans and mix thoroughly.

I don’t know about you but I can never resist tasting a little dip of sweetened condensed milk whenever there’s an open can in front of me.  It’s oh-so sweet and delish.

Blog martha washington milk

The mixture is pretty tough to handle at this point and it’s best to use your own hand strength to mix as opposed to a wooden spoon.

Your wrists will definitely get a good workout.

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Next step is to shape the dough into small balls.

This will take a little bit of time because the mixture yields 85-90 balls depending on the size of each one.

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It’s very important to knead the dough thoroughly in your hands as you create each ball.  The heat from your hand helps to soften the dough and pressure helps to eliminate the air so the the balls can be properly formed.

It’s important to keep kneading each ball in your hand until the ball forms firmly without crumbling.

Again, this does take a bit of time but a little singing may help pass the time.

You may want to briefly refrigerate the balls to harden them up a tad before dipping in chocolate.

I’ll have to admit this next ingredient surprised me but it’s in every Martha Washington recipe I was able to find on-line.

The recipe suggests using a half a block of food-grade paraffin wax (not candle wax).

Food grade paraffin is often used in candy making as it helps to hold the chocolate together.  It also gives the chocolate a shiny appearance.

NOTE:  I seriously wondered about the use of a wax product in candy preparation (because it does seem counter-intuitive) so I looked for more information about it on-line.  The consensus seems to be that as long as food grade wax is used and because it’s a substance that is not absorbed by the body, there are no health risks. 

My grandmother always included the paraffin in her chocolate candies and I know others who also use food grade wax in their candy making. 

However, if you’re concerned about using this particular ingredient, I suggest you skip it altogether.Blog martha washington wax supplies

Shaving the paraffin with a grater certainly makes it look like you’re using far more wax than you actually are using.

Add the shavings to the melted chocolate and return the pan to the stove.

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Stir slowly over low heat until all wax shavings are melted.

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Run the spoon against the side of the pan and across the bottom of the pan to make sure all ingredients have melted completely.

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Mom used some wooden skewers to dip the candy balls into the hot chocolate.

Make sure you use the thinest wood skewers you can to prevent leaving super large holes in the chocolate balls.

Blog martha washington dipping

There will still be a hole regardless of what size skewer you use.  Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix.

Simply drop a small amount of melted chocolate into the hole and it will fill in quite nicely. Blog martha washington candySet candy balls aside for a few hours to completely harden.

You don’t have to refrigerate them but you should store the candy in a cool area before packaging.

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Meanwhile, once the chocolate balls have completely hardened, drop them into the little paper candy cups for serving.

They look great on a dessert tray or even a cake stand.

TASTY TIP: You could also add a little extra touch by melting white chocolate and drizzling thin lines of it over the balls. 

Meanwhile, thanks Mom, these taste just like the ones Grandma used to make

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If you’re making these chocolates for a Valentine’s gift, it’s easy to package them up for a very pretty presentation.

You only need a few simple craft store supplies including (1) a few stems of artificial cherry blossoms (or your favorite bloom), (2) candy boxes and (3) ribbon.

Note: Click here to visit my Heart-Shaped Goodness blog post from last year for more Valentine’s Day-inspired goodies.

Blog martha washington box suppliesPlace a small piece of wax paper or parchment paper on the bottom of the candy box, fill the box with the sweet goodies and then wrap with ribbon and tie in a bow.

Add a stem of the artificial flower and you have a great looking gift for someone special.

QUICK TIPS: Use a pair of pliers to carefully twist the end of the artificial branch so that the sharp end of the wire is not exposed.  Also, consider including a copy of this candy recipe with your chocolate-filled gift box so the recipient can make their own sweet treats too. 

I think these chocolate balls are beautiful when packaged neatly like this with just the right dash of pink.  This is a gift anyone would be happy to receive this Valentine’s Day.

Of course, when you’re in the kitchen with Nana, these sweet treats are even more yummy. 

  • Elisa

    Thanks for sharing – Lisa
    You always bring delight.

  • Anonymous

    Those looks awesome. I like everything about those ingredients and your pictures are excellent and directions for everything. I also make this for my family and friends.

  • Johnsons Tiles

    The packaging looks so elegant with that touch of pink. These are really easy to make and very testy to eat. I excited for make it.

  • Anonymous

    wow.. yummy… the sounds is nice. I love this recipe. It is fantastic because i love all chocolate recipes an this is very
    nice and impressive recipe. It looking awesome.

  • anthony

    don’t see too many black families blogging about stuff like this online. i think it’s wonderful. go head y’all!

  • Anonymous

    Yummy… I like to eat chocolate and this chocolate cookie is my one of the favorite recipe. It is really very nice.

  • Anonymous

    Wow… Chocolate. I like to eat chocolate recipe and these chocolate cookie is my one of the favorite recipe. It looking so yummy. I want to make it for my child.

  • Anonymous

    So yummy… I love this recipe because i love all chocolate recipe. Also chocolate is very healthy for health. I am so excited for bring this recipe.

  • Anonymous

    These all things are really very nice to see.And i feel very happy by seeing these all things its such a wonderful preparation for the chocolates.

  • shabby chic furniture

    Its really amazing. I like this recipe and also I like all chocolate recipe because I love chocolate so much. This sounds like very romantic. It looking awesomeness and nice.

  • dragon fish

    wow.. yummy… the sounds is nice. I love this recipe. It is fantastic because i love all chocolate recipes an this is very nice and impressive recipe. It looking awesome.

  • Anonymous

    So amazing. Thank for sharing wonderful recipe. It is fantastic. I love here every thing it looking really very nice. I love every bite of it.

  • Ilze

    Oh my – those chocolates in the top photo looks just simply irresistable….(sorry for the spelling). Definitely going to try – just not sure mine would come out as good as Nana Banana’s?!! But going to try. 😉

  • Irma Thompson

    I have just found your blog and LOVE it ! Your Mom is a beautiful lady and her singing warmed my heart. Your pictures are excellent and directions for everything I have read so far in your blog are very clear and informative. You certainly have a flair for the lovely things in life. thank you so much for sharing with us !

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post.I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great recipe. Keep up your work.

  • Kerry

    This is such a nice idea.It is best way to express your love.It is becomes best gift for your loved once.It is so admirable thought.

  • the crafty cpa

    these look delicious. they remind me of buckeyes (which also call for parafin by the way)

  • Jakki Gee

    Thanks to you and Nana Bannana, we finally have the recipe for those wonderful chocolates we loved and missed. As always you share tasteful and delightful products and ideas with your fans.
    The “Gee Whiz” Club

  • nance

    My fave is Nana Banana’s singing!
    Kidding aside, I wrote down the recipe and will surely make it. The packaging looks so elegant with that touch of pink. Thanks Lisa for sharing.

  • [email protected]

    Yet again, Lisa, You have inspired me. I’ve made my list and are going to work on these next week. Thanks so much for sharing your mom with us.

  • Berta

    Those look so yummy! I have several recipes that use parafin with the chocolate for a coating. Thanks for the great post and a chance to Nana Banana sing :o)

  • Laurel H.

    The candy looks great–and so does your mom!

  • Thimbleanna (aka Anna Banana)

    Wow — those look amazing! Thanks for the wonderful recipe — I love everything about those ingredients (ok, maybe not the parafin, but I’d definitely use it!) And Anna Banana LOVES Nana Banana’s video!!!

  • adrienne


  • Kim

    My mom’s recipe for Buckeye candy includes paraffin wax too. :o)
    these sound yummmmmmy

  • Annabelle

    Thanks for this post…I loved every bit of it! I haven’t had Martha Washingtons in ages. How did I forget about them? Your Mom is so pretty and seems like such a nice lady, too. What a fun day y’all must have had. 🙂

  • Susie

    Oh my goodness, what a delightful post! I told my husband if I ever become a grandmother I want to be called Nana Banana too — how cute is that?! I remember Martha Washington’s but…it’s been a long time. Thank you Lisa for sharing this old time favorite.

  • Carolyn

    Yum!!! I always look forward to your posts!

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