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Kentucky Cream Pull Candy

This post was updated on 12/17/2017.

Okay my friends, as you know I’m from Kentucky, and I’m about to share with you my most favorite of all candy recipes and it originated right here in Kentucky.  If you have never had a piece of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy, you truly don’t know what you’ve been missing, and if you have had this wonderful candy, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  This creamy yet airy candy simply melts in your mouth.  It’s made of sugar, pure vanilla and heavy whipping cream…shall I say more!  

I want to share this recipe with you for several reasons…

  1.  It is an old-time recipe that goes back to at least the early 1900’s or before.  As I have mentioned on my home page, I want to revive the old recipes and not let them be forgotten, especially the great ones.
  2.  I want to clarify the confusion that I see on Pinterest between Kentucky Cream Pull Candy and Vinegar Taffy.  They look-alike but Vinegar Taffy is different.  It’s Taffy and this recipe is Cream Candy.  This candy has a consistency of Taffy when it’s first made but changes to a creamy melt in your mouth texture overnight.  I’ll be posting the Vinegar Taffy recipe soon, to clear up all confusion between the two.
  3. This is the most delicious candy you will ever put in your mouth.  My friend Julie calls it “sinful”.  I promise that if you have a chance to eat one piece of this melt in your mouth divine bite of heaven, you’ll want to know how to make it, and I want to make sure you know how to make it.  When you eat a piece you will totally savor it as it slowly melts on your tongue and you’ll moan in great pleasure. You’ll keep going back for more until you make yourself sick.  Trust me, I know!

Allow me to take a moment to talk about the history of this candy…

No one knows exactly when the first batch of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy was made or who created the recipe. What we do know is that it appears to have originated somewhere in central Kentucky and it dates back to at least the early 1900’s or before.  There are four women in Kentucky who were all well-known for making this delicious confection…

Ruth Hanly Booe and Rebecca Gooch, two substitute school teachers in Louisville Kentucky, opened their own business in 1919, Rebecca Ruth Candies, in Frankfort Kentucky.  Rebecca Gooch later sold her half of the business to Ruth Hanly Booe.  I have a picture of Ruth Hanly Booe pulling the candy outside in her yard in 1923. Rebecca Ruth Candies is still well-known today for their candies here in Kentucky.  

Ruth Hunt from Mt. Sterling Kentucky, started making the candy from the basement of her home in 1921.  She sold it by word of mouth until her business outgrew itself.  She later found a permanent shop to sell her candy from in 1930.  She was also known for her creation of the Blue Monday, cream candy that had been dipped in chocolate.  Today, you can visit and purchase Ruth Hunt candies in two locations, Mt. Sterling and Lexington.  

Maxine (Mom) Blakeman from Lancaster Kentucky, started making the candy from her home in the 1940’s. She made it available to the patrons at her restaurant.  She started marketing her candy in 1961.  Mom Blakeman’s Candy is still sold today here in Kentucky.

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy is cooked to a hard ball stage, poured onto a very cold marble slab and when cooled enough to handle, is pulled like Taffy and stretched into a long twisted rope and cut with scissors. It is left overnight to cream.  Many years ago candy makers thought the only way to get this candy to turn out perfect was to stand outside in freezing cold temperatures to pull it.  Many years later, we now know that this is not necessary.  Years ago and today, most people think that you cannot make this candy when it is raining or humid outside.  Well I’m here to disagree with this common belief among most candy makers.  I have turned out my very best batches of this candy on rainy and humid days.

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Some people enlist the help of a second person to help them pull this candy. Others use a large hook to pull it, especially if they are making several batches of it.

Now I’m happy to share with you how I made a batch of this divine confection that I’ve been making for over 30 years.  I enlisted my sister Nancy to help me pull it… 

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I started by adding sugar, boiling water and a pinch of salt to a large pan.  I brought it to a boil over high heat…then I covered it and let it cook over high heat for exactly 5 minutes and removed the lid…

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Next, I added a candy thermometer to the side of my pan and reduced the heat to medium.  I very slowly added a cup of heavy whipping cream, making sure that I did not allow the mixture to stop boiling…

Tip:  It’s a good idea to calibrate your candy thermometer at least once a year and especially during the holiday season.  To see how to calibrate your candy thermometer, click here.

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I allowed the mixture to continue to cook over medium heat WITHOUT stirring, until it reached a hard ball, 260 degrees on my candy thermometer, but I also tested it in cold water as well, (you don’t have to do both…I was showing my sister how I usually test my candy in cold water)…

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Once the mixture reached 260 degrees on a candy thermometer I removed it from the heat and poured it onto a buttered very cold marble slab…

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I drizzled some pure Vanilla over the surface…

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Then I used a metal spatula and turned each of the long sides in towards the middle.  As the underside started to cool, I flipped it over one time to cool the top side…

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As soon as the candy could be handled, I cut it in half.  My sister and I each took half.  In the picture above, my sister Nancy had just started pulling her half.  Notice the shiny and sticky like texture…

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We pulled the candy for about 4-5 minutes until it became satiny and lighter in color.  This is my half about one minute before I stopped pulling it…  Tip:  I have the best success when making this candy by using my finger tips to pull it. This way it doesn’t stick to your hands and requires less butter on your hands.  Sometimes too much butter during the pulling process can effect the way this candy turns out.

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Once it became satiny and lighter in color, I pulled each half into a long twisted rope and placed it back on the marble slab…

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I immediately cut it into pieces with my kitchen scissors…

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At this point the candy was slightly sticky and rather dense in texture.  At this stage it is like Taffy.  Note: It is the most delicious tasting Taffy at this stage.  You will want to eat the entire batch just as it is, but you must make yourself leave it alone until it creams.  You’ll thank me later.  Anyhow, I covered it with a towel overnight.  You can also put it in a tin, but you must make sure that the pieces are not touching together while they are still slightly sticky.  Often times, this candy will cream within a couple of hours as well.  As soon as it had creamed, I placed the candy in a candy tin.

Try to get your mind off of this candy when you leave it to cream and prepare to be WOWED after it creams…

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy
This candy is so light, airy, rich and creamy, it literally melts in your mouth. It's absolutely divine!!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups granulated sugar
  2. Pinch of salt
  3. 1 cup boiling water
  4. 1 cup heavy Whipping Cream
  5. 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla
  6. Butter for marble slab
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, salt and boiling water in a large pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let mixture cook for exactly 5 minutes.
  2. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium. Add a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Slowly add the cream, a little bit at a time, making sure that the mixture does not stop bubbling. DO NOT stir. Cook until candy reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer or forms a hard ball when tested in cold water
  3. Remove candy from heat and immediately pour onto a very cold buttered marble slab. DO NOT scrap the insides of the pan. Drizzle the vanilla over the surface of the candy. Using a metal spatula, turn each long side of the candy inward. Flip the candy over to cool the top side.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut the candy in half, (if two people are pulling it). Using your fingertips, pull the candy for at least 3-4 minutes until it's no longer shiny and sticky and has started to look satiny and lighter in color. Pull the candy into long twisted ropes and place on the marble slab. Using scissors, immediately cut the candy into pieces about 1 1/2" long. Make sure the candy pieces are not touching since they are still sticky at this point. The candy will now be a consistency of taffy. It's delicious but try not to eat it.
  5. Cover the candy with a towel and let it set overnight to cream. Candy can be placed in a tin, but pieces should not be touching until the candy has creamed. I find it best to just spread the candy on cookie sheets or leave on the marble slab and cover with a non frizzy towel.
  6. Yields: About 2 pounds
Notes
  1. If you've never made this candy, take a moment to look at the illustrated steps above this recipe, before attempting to make it. It's really not hard...it just takes a few minutes and a little patience, but it is so worth it.
  2. Time does not include pulling and cutting candy.
My Country Table http://www.mycountrytable.com/
  • Hi! I loved your story, especially the history you have. I live in Eastern Kentucky, and Cream Pull Candy is very popular around here, especially at Christmas time. There are many variations on the recipe. When I was a young child, I had an aunt who worked with a lady who made cream pull candy at a local department store. Each Christmas I’d received a Maxwell House coffee jar filled to the rim with her pull candy. I learned to make it when I was about 13 years old. My next door neighbor had attended a class at the local county extension office where she learned to make it, and I in turn learned from her. The recipe we used in those days was 5 cups sugar, 1 cup boiling water, 1 cup whole or evaporated milk, a stick of real butter, 1/4 teaspoons baking soda and a teaspoon vanilla. The sugar and water cooked to softball, the milk, butter and soda were added and the mixture cooked on to hard ball, poured on marble, pulled, cut and allowed to cream. Over the years I tweak my original version to use cream as well.

    I notice that you recipe contains no baking soda. Most cooks here add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with the milk. The purpose of the soda is to raise the pH of the cream so that the lactose (milk sugar) will caramelize a bit while the mixture boils. This gives the completed candy a slight caramel-vanilla flavor and is what we consider the “classic flavor” for pull candy around here.

    I agree too that the myths of cold weather and low humidity are not true. I’ve made candy in the heat of summer and cold of winter. I, too, find that my candy is actually better on a more humid day…afte rall sugar is hygroscopic and absorbs a bit of moisture from the air which in turn improved the overall texture.

    I usually individually wrap my pieces in waxed paper and seal in an air tight container to cream overnight. I find that the flavor and texture both improve if the candy is allowed to mellow in a cool dry place for a few days. You can also wrap and freeze the candy (some people like to eat it frozen while still in its taffy-like state…but not me!) and, when you want it, remove it from the freezer and allow to sit overnight and it will cream beautifully!

    Again, thanks for the wonderful article. I’d love to hear other people’s stories too!

    Oh, and by the way….after pulling candy for more than 30 years, my shoulders got to bothering me a lot. My father and I saw an homemade taffy puller on You Tube (commercially made ones were in the thousands of dollars for even the smallest ones) and built one ourselves which lasted about 5 years. Along the what I had a serendipitous encounter with an engineer who had designed a nice home pulling machine and was selling them. It’s called the Taffy Express and I absolutely love mine! http://www.taffyexpress.com

    Jeff Arnett

  • Hi! I loved your story, especially the history you have. I live in Eastern Kentucky, and Cream Pull Candy is very popular around here, especially at Christmas time. There are many variations on the recipe. When I was a young child, I had an aunt who worked with a lady who made cream pull candy at a local department store. Each Christmas I’d received a Maxwell House coffee jar filled to the rim with her pull candy. I learned to make it when I was about 13 years old. My next door neighbor had attended a class at the local county extension office where she learned to make it, and I in turn learned from her. The recipe we used in those days was 5 cups sugar, 1 cup boiling water, 1 cup whole or evaporated milk, a stick of real butter, 1/4 teaspoons baking soda and a teaspoon vanilla. The sugar and water cooked to softball, the milk, butter and soda were added and the mixture cooked on to hard ball, poured on marble, pulled, cut and allowed to cream. Over the years I tweak my original version to use cream as well.

    I notice that your recipe contains no baking soda. Most cooks here add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with the milk. The purpose of the soda is to raise the pH of the cream so that the lactose (milk sugar) will caramelize a bit while the mixture boils. This gives the completed candy a slight caramel-vanilla flavor and is what we consider the “classic flavor” for pull candy around here.

    I agree too that the myths of cold weather and low humidity are not true. I’ve made candy in the heat of summer and cold of winter. I, too, find that my candy is actually better on a more humid day…afte rall sugar is hygroscopic and absorbs a bit of moisture from the air which in turn improved the overall texture.

    I usually individually wrap my pieces in waxed paper and seal in an air tight container to cream overnight. I find that the flavor and texture both improve if the candy is allowed to mellow in a cool dry place for a few days. You can also wrap and freeze the candy (some people like to eat it frozen while still in its taffy-like state…but not me!) and, when you want it, remove it from the freezer and allow to sit overnight and it will cream beautifully!

    Again, thanks for the wonderful article. I’d love to hear other people’s stories too!

    Oh, and by the way….after pulling candy for more than 30 years, my shoulders got to bothering me a lot. My father in law and I saw an homemade taffy puller on You Tube (commercially made ones were in the thousands of dollars for even the smallest ones) and built one ourselves which lasted about 5 years. Along the way I had a serendipitous encounter with an engineer who had designed a nice home pulling machine and was selling them. It’s called the Taffy Express and I absolutely love mine! You can check it out at http://www.taffyexpress.com

    • Thanks Jeff for the most interesting stories and information. I will definitely check out the Taffy Express pulling machine. Wow…wouldn’t that be a great help! I have experimented with various Cream Candy recipes throughout the years, using the baking soda in a couple. However, I haven’t been able to see a real noticeable difference with it. Maybe I’ll try it again. I have also tried a few recipes with the butter, but after a lot of experimenting with the various recipes, I keep going back to this one that I currently use. It turns out excellent and has a wonderful creamy, melt in your mouth texture, so I’ve just stayed with this recipe. I’m from Bracken County, where most people are familiar with this candy. However, most of my friends have never heard of this candy until I give them some…then they are hooked. Lol. I hope this recipe and all of the other old time recipes never get forgotten. That’s the main reason I posted it. Have a great Christmas and I hope you get to eat some Kentucky Cream Pull Candy!

  • I love this candy. Can you make it without the marble slab?

    • Yes Debbie you can. You can use a piece of formica, or anything smooth like counter top material that you can place outside to get cold. You just don’t want to use wood. The reason people use marble is because it’s thick and once cold, it holds its coldness long enough to quickly cool the candy. Just make sure if you use something else, that you get it very cold outside or in a freezer. You can probably find a remnant of marble at a granite place or even a piece of granite would work. Hope this helps and I hope your candy turns out great!

    • No the marble cools the candy so u can handle it

    • The cold marble slab is vital to cool the hot caramel candy down fast to start the hand pulling. The thicker the marble slab, the better it will hold the cold.

    • Yea

  • My hubby said its been a long time since he had any. I don’t have a marble slab though..boohoo…

    • Hi Robin, Don’t give up…you can use a piece of formica or granite or anything that is thick enough to stay cold long enough to quickly cool the candy. That’s the trick here. The candy needs to be cooled quickly so you can start pulling it quickly. If you let it set for long and don’t start pulling it, it will start to set up and turn grainy. Then it’s flopped. If you go somewhere that sells granite or marble counter tops, you might find a piece of either one as a remnant. Give that job to your husband. Lol… Good Luck!

    • Go to lowes or any building store that carries flooring and buy u 2 12* X 12 pieces of Marble flooring works just fine for me and easier to clean

  • Any options for the cold marble slab? I live in Phoenix and cold is not a normal part of out weather vocabulary.

    • Hi Gwen…
      Yes I make this candy year around. I place my piece of marble in my big freezer in my basement. I’ve made this candy plenty of times when it is hot and humid or raining, so the belief that it doesn’t turn out in humidity or rain is not true. Also, if you don’t have a piece of marble, you can use a piece of formica or granite, anything that will hold its coldness long enough to quickly cool the candy. The candy needs to cool quickly and you need to start pulling it right away or it starts to set up into a grainy mess. You might find a remnant of marble or granite at a place that sells granite and marble counter tops. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

  • Do you have any suggestions to stop it from going to sugar on some batchs? Has haunted me for years! Some will be fine then others go to sugar!! Thank You

    • You probably arent getting the heat out of it fast enought I’ve been making it 20 years and usually dont have any to go bk to sugar as soon as u can handle it start pulling it 😉 Good Luck

    • Room temp of 75 degrees and humidity of 65% is the prime cream candy making environment I have found over the years. The warmth and humidity of the house will make it morph to sugar faster… and you have to keep it moving pulling fast. The longer/more you pull, the smoother the texture will be. I learned how to make it as a child. So hard…but so GOOD!!!

  • You can speed up the over night “morphing” with a heating pad on low under or over it. I put the cut pieces on a cookie sheet (not touching each other), cover with loose plastic, lay a bath towel over it and lay the low heating pad over the towel. It will cure the whole batch in a couple hours. Also…be careful of the finished candy becoming to wet in a sealed bag. It is very sensitive to moisture and can get to wet. But dont leave it out in the open air either because it needs some moisture to keep that amazing texture. Now I’m hungry!!! 🙂

  • WhyohWhy

    I tried making this and I added 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and a dash of lemon juice to the vanilla, hoping to make this candy taste a bit like cream soda. While the candy was cooling, I kept flipping the candy to hopefully cool it faster. I’m not sure if it was the tartar, the acid from the lemon, or the repeated turning of the candy, but after turning for a while the candy just sort of crumbled when it cooled and has the consistency of sand from a beach. I will try this recipe again without so many alterations next time. When this candy sits overnight, is the texture like buttermints or like a taffy or caramel?

    Thank you for posting this recipe 🙂

    • Kay Snyder

      I’m not the author but I’m from Kentucky and LOVE this candy–its buttermint consistency but even creamier!

  • Sharon Sporleder

    It was wonderful to see you talk about Ruth Hunt. My hometown is Mt. Sterling. I live in Minnesota now but I order from them every holiday season. You are brave to attempt that, candy intimidates me.

  • Kathy White Blankenship

    Hello from Kentucky! 🙂 Tickled me to see that someone actually had the recipe for this creamy, oh so good, candy! There’s nothing quite like it!! It can be habit forming for sure! 🙂

  • John S. Ward

    My mom also added 1 stick of butter to the boil, just like the cream, added it just a dab at a time to keep the boil going.

  • Belvidere

    What if you don’t have a marble slab??

    • Ashley

      I use two aluminum sheet pans that are the same size. Place about 1/4-1/2″ layer of crushed ice in one pan, then place the other pan on top of the ice. It helps the candy cool quickly. I also use a sheet of parchment paper in the top pan where the hot candy is poured, so cleanup is easier.

  • Deborah Ostafi

    Thank you again for this recipe. It was a great hit over the holidays and I have shared it via your site with a few people who asked me about it. It turned out so melt in your mouth good just like I remembered! I do need to know exactly how you “finger pull”, we (my husband & I) used our hands. It was cool enough to handle but I still got blisters on my thumbs from the pulling process. Did I over work myself and the candy? LOL Can you please either video or explain how to pull with your fingers. I know of someone that has stopped making this candy because of the pulling and I would like to share it with her too. I REALLY appreciate your time and effort answering this for us.

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