I’ve recently run across a recipe in a vintage cookbook (probably the fifties, as the phone numbers in it are exchange numbers) for “Two-Hour Candy”:

Two-Hour Candy

  • 7 c. sugar
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 lg. can Pet milk
  • 1 sm. can Pet milk
  • 1 bottle white Karo syrup
  • 3 c. nuts

Mix first 5 ingredients. Boil 1 1/2 hours. Stir often. Cook until it forms soft ball or 235 deg. F. Remove from fire and beat 1/2 hour. Add nuts.

Two-Hour Candy from Out of Henderson Kitchens

While I’m not experienced with using evaporated milk, my general experience is that if I attempt to boil a mix like that for an hour and a half, it will go far beyond 235° Fahrenheit.

This is probably about six times the amount of candy I would normally make, but while I would expect it to take longer to come to a boil, I would not expect it to take such a long time after it comes to a boil.

Am I wrong? Or am I misreading this recipe in some way?

“Two-Hour Candy” appears to be a unique title, and I was surprised at how few responses “Pet Milk Candy” returns. I did find an interesting Pet Milk cookbook from 1930, Pet Recipes, (it’s part of MSU’s fascinating Little Cookbooks collection) but found no corresponding recipe in it.

I realize that I could just boil it to the appropriate temperature and disregard the time, but that assumes I’m reading the recipe correctly and not misunderstanding terms that may have changed over half a century or so.

  • 1
    I don't often say this, but a scan might be helpful this time. Also I wonder if there's some reason to assume a very low power cooker
    – Chris H
    Oct 25, 2021 at 16:57
  • @Chris H, Scan added. Oct 25, 2021 at 18:59
  • That's certainly clear enough. I've seen print in old books so bad it could be misinterpreted, but not here
    – Chris H
    Oct 25, 2021 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


This is a known method to make dairy caramel. Instead of caramelizing the sugar quickly over a high heat and then quench it with the dairy, one starts with all ingredients combined, in a very wet mixture, and cooks the liquid out until the candy has the desired consistency. In the meantime, the sucrose/syrup's sugars and the dairy's lactose caramelize together.

It is not so unusual to need a long time for the process to work, for example Brunost also uses lactose caramelization and needs even longer.

I suppose the whole thing will work smoother if you keep it at a simmer rather than at a boil. I cannot say why the text says "boil", maybe they are not all that exact with terminology. Or maybe they really assume that you will sit at the stove all the time and stir as much as needed, as opposed to maybe letting it cook for an hour longer, but at a lower temperature. It is also possible that you do have to stir almost all the time once a certain consistency has been reached, so it makes sense to keep the boil a bit brisk from this point.

As for not being able to find similar recipes, it seems that the cookbook chose the title somewhat at random. It is a known method, and one can find many recipes for "caramel candy" or "fudge" which use it. "Evaporated milk fudge" will better discriminate between slowly-cooked methods and quenched methods. For example, that search term returned this video, which is a nice demonstration of the method. I would say that you can certainly disregard the time, as usual in candy making, it is the temperature that counts.

  • ""Evaporated milk fudge" will better discriminate between slowly-cooked methods and quenched methods" Is this the same thing as Scottish Tablet or is that another confection altogether, even if it's also a sort of fudge made from condensed milk?
    – nick012000
    Oct 26, 2021 at 4:19
  • @nick012000 I don't know, I hear the term Scottish Tablet for the first time. Hopefully, somebody else will be able to clarify.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 26, 2021 at 9:02
  • Here's a video on the process of making it: youtube.com/watch?v=zGotMbaVFlg
    – nick012000
    Oct 26, 2021 at 9:32

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