This recipe for "Opera Creams" is my late mother in law's recipe and undoubtedly, my favorite homemade Christmas candy. I have not had this candy in over twenty years. My sweet mother in law passed away very unexpectedly over 20 years ago and she was the only person I knew who made this candy. No one in my family and friends had even ever heard of it and to this day, I don't know where she originally got it. I never thought to get her recipe for it and after she passed, I looked high and low for a recipe that might come close to it. My mother thought she had a recipe so she made it and bless her heart, it wasn't even close, but I didn't want to tell her that. So, I eventually just gave up.
When I started writing this food blog, I started asking all of my family and friends for recipes for the things they make that are really good, so I got with my sister in law about a lot of her recipes, because she is a fantastic cook. I mentioned how I wish I had gotten the Opera Creams recipe and she told me she had all of her mother's recipe files and books with her handwritten recipes in them and that she did, indeed, have the Opera Creams recipe.
I don't know why I had never thought to ask her before. She did warn me that she had tried to make them and they never did taste as good as they had when her mother made them. So I got the recipe and gave it a whirl. My husband says they turned out just like his mothers, although for me, none will taste just like hers did, but they brought back good memories of her for both of us. I even found the little candy dish she always kept them in after she made them. Food is so important in our lives and brings back such memories of those who made it for us. If we keep the food and the recipes alive, we keep part of those folks alive for us to remember always.
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
Place sugar, cream, milk, corn syrup and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until it comes to boil, stirring frequently. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer or around 240 degrees, stirring constantly. This takes some time to reach so be patient. When it reaches the soft ball stage, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and the 2 cups of chopped nuts. Pour into a buttered 8"x8" dish. Allow to cool completely and set up before cutting into 1 inch squares. This candy actually improves with age.