Holiday Treats in the Lebanon Valley

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie or candy? Do you want to find ribbon candy or chocolate-filled hard candy raspberries in your Christmas stocking? There are many traditional holiday treats in the Lebanon Valley. What are your cookie baking or candy making memories?

Leb cakes or “lebkuchen,” round, gingerbread spice cookies; sand tarts, and peppernuts are traditional cookies made in Lebanon County. My father’s cousin always said it wasn’t Christmas until she baked Grandma Weigley’s molasses cookies. I baked sand-tarts with my aunt from a family recipe; before I could actually help with the baking, I placed the hickory nuts on the cookies. In my family sand tarts weren’t sand tarts without these small, hard-to-shell nut meats. A fun afternoon was spent in her kitchen, hearing family stories as we mixed the dough and cut out the cookies.

Opera fudge is definitely a traditional holiday candy, often made with family recipes; but there are other traditional candies in the Lebanon Valley. Have you ever heard of bellyguts (off-white pull taffy) or “Moshy?” Moshy was a popular Lebanon County Christmas treat. Moshy is now called molasses candy. Molasses and butter were boiled to a certain consistency and poured into small, round pans with scalloped edges, called patty pans. Frequently nut kernels were added or the mixture was poured over apples, creating “Moshy” apples.

Start a family baking traditional or visit your local candy shop or bakery. Try a new treat this holiday season.

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