December 22, 2012

Without Martha Washington Jetties??? Christmas Would Be Impossible

These chocolate dipped fondants just spell Christmas to me. My mother made them on the cold back porch every Christmas of my life, and I do the same, as does my daughter.  They are so rich you only want one. Or maybe two. The cold back porch because you dip chilled fondant balls in a chocolate bath and you want the chocolate to set quickly so you can use all the chocolate before it cools.  If it does thicken and cool, just warm it briefly again. These are simply lovely gifts. My mother kept them in a depression glass covered compote and I bring it out once a year for my jetties. Rich! Oh, my, my. People tend to shriek when they first taste one.

First, make small fondant balls.

The fondant: In a mixer, or by hand, beat 1/2 cup of  softened sweet butter and gradually incorporate 1 pound of  confectioners sugar and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  When dense but fully mixed, stir in 1 cup of  chopped pecans. You can taste now! Form about 4 dozen small balls on waxed paper and chill them.


Once they are cold, make the chocolate dip. Simple melt –slowly–8 ounces of  semi-sweet chocolate (or whatever level of sweetness you want), 4 tablespoons of butter, and 5-6 drops of vanilla. If the chocolate seems very thick, thin it with 3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream.

Raise the heat until chocolate is simmering and remove to the counter. Lift each ball with a toothpick and submerge the ball into the chocolate. Place it on the waxed paper, then allow to cool. If there’s a white spot where the toothpick emerged, dot it with a bit of chocolate. When all are finished, chill the jetties in the fridge until set, then peel them off the waxed paper and place in gift tins. Keep them cool.

Here they are, in their glory, in the old depression glass compote that my mother must have inherited from hers.

I love how often the deeply nostalgic foods of memory are associated with a particular blue plate, or a time of day, or a saying. The context of a loved delicacy often says as much about it as the actual taste. When I move, I hand carry this pressed glass candy dish. Of small actual value, it’s precious to me. Each time I make Jetties, it seems that we’re gathered, my sisters and I, with Mother on the porch in the cold, waiting for the first stray drop of chocolate we can confiscate, then we’re waiting for the chocolate to harden so that we’re allowed the first Jettie of Christmas.  I wonder if Martha Washington invented these. If so, hail to her! And happy holidays to all of you friends reading this before you head to the kitchen. Might as well double the recipe because you’ll want to fill charming little boxes and drop them off for your friends.