The Shopper Kitchen: Fond of old-time candy? Try these Orange-Slice Bars

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By Angela McRae, The Shopper Kitchen

Of all the food memories we enjoy, I believe the ones from childhood may be the ones we savor most. And Christmastime candy memories rank high on the list.

When I was working on my Vintage Christmas Cookbook earlier this year, I thought back to the beloved Astro Pops that I enjoyed as a little girl. These multicolored cone-shaped treats were created by two rocket scientists in 1963. The yellow, green, and red coloring was designed to resemble a three-stage rocket, and I thought it was the coolest candy I’d ever seen. As an adult, I’ve been known to romanticize them a bit. I knew I had a problem several autumns ago when I realized my favorite stage of leaf turning is when the leaves on a single tree mimic the three shades of an Astro Pop.

I’m not alone in enjoying candy-colored memories. I asked my Facebook friends one day if they had a favorite childhood candy, and I was blown away by the rapid-fire responses: Mary Janes, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddy Candy and Sugar Babies, Bottle Caps, Fireballs, Shoestring Licorice, Pom Poms, Candy Corn, Pixie Sticks, Clove Lifesavers, and Jujyfruits were among those named.

Some of these candies can be hard to find (this holiday season, try Arnall Grocery Company in downtown Newnan) except from specialty shops, but one old-time candy that I still see everywhere is Orange-Slice Candy. While that’s never been a great favorite of mine, I was intrigued when I came across a recipe for Orange-Slice Bars, a recipe made with these candies and featured in a 1953 issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

As often happens with vintage recipes, I had to make some adjustments. Apparently, a 16-ounce bag of Orange-Slice Candy was common in the fifties. Today, a 10-ounce bag is the norm. But since this original recipe made such a large pan of candy, I halved it, which made the 10-ounce bag perfect for my purposes. The result is a sweet treat that reminds me of blondies and orange marmalade. Citrus-flavored treats have long been associated with the holidays, so if a citrusy Christmas treat appeals to you, too, give these a try!

Orange-Slice Bars
1 (10-ounce) bag candy orange slices, reserving five or six pieces for garnish
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut orange-slice candies into small pieces. (I chopped mine into 6 or 7 pieces each.) Pour flour into a medium bowl, add salt and chopped candies, and toss. Add remaining ingredients and blend till everything is combined well. You will have a stiff, sticky batter. Spoon batter into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment. Bake for 40-45 minutes and cool in pan. Cut into 1×3-inch bars. (The original recipe said to roll these bars in fine granulated sugar if desired, but I enjoyed them just as they were.)

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