In the spirit of the truly delightful family history recipe blog A Culinary Genealogy, I have decided to post one of my own family’s favorite seasonal recipes.
My dad’s mom passed away in February of this year, just a few weeks short of 86 years old. She was an absolute diamond of a person–the kind of soul who could make friends with anyone, anywhere, at anytime. She also told the most fantastic stories and jokes, and I’ve never known anyone who could laugh as long or as hard as she. A family gathering with Gram insured we’d all be completely apoplexic with laughter at least once before our time together was done.
Gram was also a fantastic cook. Within weeks of my arrival as an undergrad at college back in the early 90s, a carefully-wrapped package came from her filled to the top with gorgeous blonde brownies, one of her specialties. I met many of my good college friends for the first time when I passed those scrumptious treats around our dorm.
But Gram’s magnum opus, as far as I was concerned, was her recipe for Church Window Candies. Each year she made a behemoth batch of them when she and my grandfather visited us for Christmas. I can’t remember exactly when she started making them–no one in the family can–but it had to have been around the time I was 6 or 7 years old. She’d found the recipe in a magazine somewhere and was intrigued by its premise: the candy, made from melted chocolate and colored-marshmallows and formed into logs, was meant to resemble stained glass windows when cut into slices.
We were all hooked on them from that first Christmas.
She made Church Windows faithfully each year after that, carefully perfecting the process (which was messy as heck) and tweaking the recipe (which was uncomplicated but persnickety) until she was satisfied. And they were insanely delicious.
This year, I decided I would pick up the torch and make them for the holidays, using Thanksgiving as a dry-run, as it were, for Christmas.
Well. It was quite an experience, and I see now that I shall also have to spend a few years perfecting my own technique. Our kitchen is still pock-marked with chocolate and I’m sure a few marshmallow escapees dribbed under the stove never to be seen again. But–there were Church Windows for Thanksgiving. Maybe not up to Gram’s standards, but there they were. And here they are for you to try.
GRANDMA T.’S CHURCH WINDOWS
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 12oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 12oz. pkg. milk chocolate chips
- 1 bag mini colored marshmallows
- chopped walnuts to cover finished candy logs
- wax paper
In large saucepan, melt butter slowly. Add 1/2 of pkg. of semi-sweet chips and 1/2 of pkg. of milk chocolate chips to pan. Heat gently until chips melt and are smooth. Remove from heat and cool until chocolate is only warm to the touch. Add 2/3 bag of marshmallows to chocolate (marshmallows will melt if chocolate is too hot!) and mix thoroughly to coat marshmallows. Cool mixture in fridge for 15 minutes. On 2 18″ sheets of wax paper, form cooled mixture into 2 logs about 10″-12″ each. Roll logs messily in nuts–there is no way to be neat about this! Do what works best for you, and don’t panic if you end up covered in chocolate and nuts. Wrap logs in their wax paper and refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours). When firm, change wax paper (it looks nicer).
To serve, cut log in 1/2″ thick slices.
Thanks, Gram. They are so good.