the taste of childhood

When I was young we would spend summers with my grandparents in Galveston, Texas. It was a goldmine of treasures in the closets and being spoiled shopping with grandma and a minefield of family secrets and old wounds. My memories of these early times in Texas are diametrically opposed. The gorgeous old mansions, getting my hair and nails done and loving being with my family then suddenly the comments, the tears, the feelings of shame. Perhaps it seems silly to then remember the candy of a chain restaurant as such a part of it all. No matter what part of the trip we were in, the good or the bad, we could always count on dinner at Monterey House. The Mexican food was good and cheap and in the bottom of the chip basket was this candy. Oh, the candy! You could buy pralines at the counter, but not THE CANDY which was some sort of brown sugar praline like thing but better. Then, Monterey House shuttered it’s doors and disapearred taking that delicious candy with it. I’ve searched high and low for it, checking every Mexican Market I encountered in Los Angeles but to no avail. Last week it occurred to me that others might miss such a childhood delight. And I was right! There are message boards and recipes galore all trying to recreate this candy. I took two recipes, smooshed em together and gave it a shot. Despite feeling this was an utter failure they turned out perfectly. Exactly the way I remembered. Judging by how my husband and father in law scarfed it, they thought it tasted dang good as well.

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Milk, butter, sugar…smells heavenly.


It’s easy. It’s sugary. It’s so good. Here ya go, (Mom) here is the recipe!

5 1/2 cup sugar

2 cans (12 oz) evaporated milk

5 1/2 teaspoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup packed brown sugar.

directions: Mix the milk, sugar, butter, salt and vanilla in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it boils add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat to medium stirring occasionally until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage. Remove from heat and stir until it thickens. Pour into candy molds or if you are lazy like me dump it into a brownie pan. I actually used a cookie sheet this last time to make them thinner. Hence less guilt when you go back for a second. I like to score the candy once it is almost cooled (about 20 minutes) makes it easier to cut and eat!

Grocery day is tomorrow and I will be buying more evaporated milk. Because OMG. YUM!

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7 comments on “the taste of childhood

  1. Gina Bocanegra April 7, 2014 3:39 pm

    Hello. My 76 year old father was the owner of the company that made and sold the Leche Quemada and Prailene to Monterey House. Send us over your E-mail address to be added to the E-Blast if you would like to be kept up-to-date on the re-opening of the factory.

    Have a great day!

    Gina Bocanegra

    • Kathleen Salvato December 14, 2017 5:34 pm

      Please add me to your email list for reopening of the factory!

    • David January 19, 2018 12:05 pm

      Add me! I grew up eating at Monterey House as well! LOVED that candy, and my mom always loved to get one of the pecan pralines at the counter. I’d love to purchase some — how far are you from making it???

  2. Cricket October 29, 2017 7:10 pm

    Thank you, I love Montery house and the candy in the chips was my favorite.

  3. Patty Cummings December 11, 2017 9:04 am

    Really good. Making for the second time today!!

  4. Charlene Martens May 6, 2018 11:15 am

    I know this is an old post but I was hoping someone will see it and give me advice. I cooked it what seemed like forever to the softball stage but it ended up more like caramels than the fudge consistency I was hoping for. Ant candy makers out there… What did I do wrong?

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