Yesterday as I was searching my recipe file for something else, I ran across my late great-aunt's recipe for something called Stein candy. When I was a kid, she would make batches of this candy every year, cut it into squares, box it up, and mail it to all of us from South Dakota where she lived.
I don't know what "Stein" represents in the name, but the internet doesn't seem to have any record of such a candy, so maybe it's from someone she knew with that last name.
Because I was a kid and candy is made of sugar, I ate my share every year, despite the general acknowledgement by everyone in the family that it wasn't particularly good. The problem was that it was way too chewy, so you'd spend forever trying to gnaw away at a piece to finish it.
However, finding the recipe makes me curious as to whether it would be possible to make it come out better. The ingredients certainly sound good: brown sugar, tons of butter, corn syrup, chocolate, peanuts and vanilla. The amounts aren't stated for the nuts and vanilla, but you can hazard a decent guess. There's also no telling whether we're talking squares of unsweetened chocolate or an actual candy bar, but there's enough sugar that you'd probably be safe with the former.
One hint as to the problem is the instruction to cook 3 minutes or so past the soft-ball stage. That's a LONG time considering that firm-ball sounds like the goal for a caramel-type candy and they're only 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit apart. I think a candy thermometer and a goal of no more than 250°F might very well result in candy most people have a fighting chance at consuming. (See update below: once I was making it I decided to follow the cooking instructions as written and it worked out exactly the way I wanted it.)
So, what do you think? Should I give it a try this year?
UPDATE 12/5/2021: I made it! I'm revising the recipe below to reflect what I actually did because it came out perfectly.
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
2 sticks butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and chocolate in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, to soft-ball stage (235-245°F) and continue boiling for another 3 minutes or so. Remove from heat, then thoroughly stir in vanilla extract and chopped peanuts. Pour into a square baking pan that's greased and lined with parchment and allow to cool. Cut into 1-inch squares (a pizza cutter worked well for me) and wrap each in waxed paper.
Note: If you use unsalted peanuts, add 1/2 tsp. of salt with them.