Martha Washington Candy is the perfect treat when you are craving timeless old-fashioned candy! Semi sweet chocolate coats these delicious little balls of creamy cherry coconut filling. The pecans and maraschino cherries add some nice texture to the candy, too!
Contrary to what you may be thinking, these candies aren’t named after the first lady. During the 1900s, there was a chain of stores called Martha Washington Candies, that finally trademarked this deliciousness. They went on to add ice cream to their stores as well.
Inside the establishments were photos of presidents and historical pictures. Elie Sheetz, the founder, aimed to make the candy pure and provide a wholesome environment for families.
Martha Washington Candy Ingredients
- Butter – be sure it’s unsalted and you allow time for it to soften
- sweetened condensed milk
- powdered sugar
- shredded coconut – I prefer the sweetened variety
- marachino cherries
- pecans – you can use raw pecans or toast them
- chocolate chips – I recommend semi-sweet just because this candy is rich enough by itself
How to Make Martha Washington Candies
Beat together the softened butter, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until it’s creamy. Pour in the powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Stir in the cherries, coconut, and pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for one to two hours.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Form balls out of the chilled mixture by using a melon baller, small cookie scoop, or spoon. Feel free to roll them in your hands so they have more of a round shape. Place the candies onto the baking sheets and put them back in the refrigerator.
Add the shortening and chocolate chips in a large bowl that is microwave safe. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring between, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Using a fork, roll each candy ball in the melted chocolate. Lift is up, and tap on the side of the bowl so the excess chocolate drips off, then transfer to the parchment paper.
Repeat for the remaining candies. Keep the dipped ones in the fridge so they set more quickly.
Helpful Tips for Making
- Reheat the chocolate for 15 seconds at a time if it begins to thicken too much for dipping. The shortening in the chocolate mixture helps to make the chocolate more fluid for dipping. It also keeps the set chocolate just a tad softer at room temperature than pure chocolate.
- For a firm, “professional” chocolate coating, you can temper the chocolate by using these detailed instructions.
- The butter and large quantity of powdered sugar in the filling for these candies allows the filling to firm up quite a bit more than these similar Chocolate Coconut Balls. The filling does still need to be chilled before dipping to keep the balls intact until they are coated.
- The chocolate chips may be easier to melt and work with if you divide the chocolate/shortening mixture in half and work in batches. You could also roll all your balls, but store half in the freezer and then dip half of them at a time. 3 cups of chocolate chips will coat about 40 candies.
How Do You Store Martha Washington candy?
Candies will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Martha Washington Candy
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
- 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries drained and chopped
- 3 cups pecans chopped
- 6 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoon shortening
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together softened butter, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add powdered sugar and beat until combined.
- Mix in the coconut, cherries, and pecans. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to firm up the mixture.
- Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Use a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop or a melon baller to form balls from the chilled mixture. You can roll the balls in the palms of your hands to make more even, uniform balls from the mixture.
- Place the formed balls onto parchment paper and place the sheet pans back into the refrigerator.
- Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a large, microwave-safe bowl. (You can also divide the chocolate chips and shortening in half and work on dipping one half of the candies at a time.
- Heat chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until chips are mostly melted.
- Stop heating and continue stirring until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.
- Use a fork to dip and roll each candy ball in the melted chocolate. Lift from the chocolate, tap to remove excess chocolate, and place back on the sheet of paper to set.
- Continue dipping and setting all of the balls. Dipped candies can be placed back into the refrigerator to set more quickly.