Published: December 18, 2016 · Modified: February 13, 2024 by: Cindy Gibbs

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy is an indulgence you will never forget!!  This candy is made with pure whipping cream and sugar and it gets cooked, pulled, and cut into pieces of taffy-like candy.  Then it gets covered and left to cream overnight.  That’s when the miracle occurs.  It miraculously turns into the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth candy that you will ever eat. 

Due to the large amount of questions on this recipe, I’ve updated it with more tips and some updated, more specific pictures. This is an intermediate candy recipe. Don’t be discouraged if you flop it a few times…yes, a few times. Make sure to read through all the tips on this recipe and read the recipe thoroughly at least twice before attempting to make this candy. Once you make your first perfect batch you’ll be in heaven, and you’ll make batch after batch!

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy.

Okay my friends, as you know I’m from Kentucky, and I’m about to share with you my most favorite of all candy recipes and it originated right here in Kentucky.  If you have never had a piece of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy, you truly don’t know what you’ve been missing, and if you have had this wonderful candy, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  This creamy yet airy candy simply melts in your mouth.  It’s made of sugar, pure vanilla, and heavy whipping cream…shall I say more!

I want to share this recipe with you for several reasons…

  1.  It is an old-time recipe that goes back to at least the early 1900s or before.  As I have mentioned on my home page, I want to revive the old recipes and not let them be forgotten, especially the great ones.
  2.  I want to clarify the confusion that I see on Pinterest between Kentucky Cream Pull Candy and Vinegar Taffy.  They look-alike but Vinegar Taffy is different.  It’s Taffy and this recipe is Cream Candy.  This candy has a consistency of Taffy when it’s first made but changes to a creamy melt in your mouth texture overnight.
  3. This is the most delicious candy you will ever put in your mouth.  My friend Julie calls it “sinful”.  I promise that if you have a chance to eat one piece of this melt in your mouth divine bite of heaven, you’ll want to know how to make it, and I want to make sure you know how to make it.  When you eat a piece you will totally savor it as it slowly melts on your tongue and you’ll moan in great pleasure. You’ll keep going back for more until you make yourself sick.  Trust me, I know!

The history of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy

No one knows exactly when the first batch of Kentucky Cream Pull Candy was made or who created the recipe. What we do know is that it appears to have originated somewhere in central Kentucky and it dates back to at least the early 1900s or before.  There are four women in Kentucky who were all well-known for making this delicious confection…

Ruth Hanly Booe and Rebecca Gooch, two substitute school teachers in Louisville Kentucky, opened their own business in 1919, Rebecca Ruth Candies, in Frankfort Kentucky.  Rebecca Gooch later sold her half of the business to Ruth Hanly Booe.  I have a picture of Ruth Hanly Booe pulling the candy outside in her yard in 1923. Rebecca Ruth Candies is still well-known today for their candies here in Kentucky.

Ruth Hunt from Mt. Sterling Kentucky started making the candy from the basement of her home in 1921.  She sold it by word of mouth until her business outgrew itself.  She later found a permanent shop to sell her candy in 1930.  She was also known for her creation of the Blue Monday, cream candy that had been dipped in chocolate.  Today, you can visit and purchase Ruth Hunt candies in two locations, Mt. Sterling and Lexington.

Maxine (Mom) Blakeman from Lancaster Kentucky, started making the candy from her home in the 1940s. She made it available to the patrons at her restaurant.  She started marketing her candy in 1961.  Mom Blakeman’s Candy is still sold today here in Kentucky.

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy is cooked to a hard-ball stage, (260 degrees), poured onto a very cold marble slab, and when cooled enough to handle, is pulled like Taffy and stretched into a long piece of candy with ridges on the top and cut into pieces with scissors. It is left overnight to cream.

Many years ago candy makers thought the only way to get this candy to turn out perfect was to stand outside in freezing cold temperatures to pull it.  Many years later, we now know that this is not necessary. Years ago and today, most people think that you cannot make this candy when it is raining or humid outside.  Well, I’m here to disagree with this common belief among some candy makers.  I have turned out my very best batches of this candy on rainy and humid days.

kentuckycreampullcandy-1-1_fotor1

Some people enlist the help of a second person to help them pull this candy. Others use a large hook to pull it, especially if they are making several batches of it. The candy gets placed over the hook and gravity pulls it down.

TIPS

  • If you’re using a candy thermometer to test your candy, make sure it’s calibrated correctly.  I calibrate my candy thermometers once a year just before the holidays when I know I’m going to be making a lot of candy.  It takes just a few minutes to calibrate your candy thermometers, so save yourself a flopped batch of candy by doing this step.  Click here to see how to calibrate your candy thermometers.
  • Use the right pot for candy making!  Use a heavy-bottomed pot and one that is deep enough.  Most candy bubbles and rises up in the pot before it cooks back down.  Make sure your pot is tall enough so the candy doesn’t bubble over.

PREPPING TO MAKE KENTUCKY CREAM PULL CANDY

  • Start by prepping your marble slab. Marble is heavy. Make sure to place it on an old towel on your work surface if it’s not perfectly smooth on the bottom. Make sure it is VERY cold, as “in the freezer” cold. If it’s winter you can place it outside. Placing it in a refrigerator does not get it cold enough.
  • Rub some butter over it before placing it outside or in the freezer. If you wait until it’s cold, it will be hard to spread the butter over it, although you can. I do when I forget to butter mine ahead of time.
  • Have your bottle of vanilla near by. You’ll need it as soon as you pour the hot candy onto the cold slab.
  • Place a pair of sharp kitchen scissors in your freezer.

COOKING THE CANDY

Start by adding 4 cups of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup of boiling water to a deep pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cover with a lid and boil for exactly 5 minutes.  Why this step?  By boiling the sugar water for 5 minutes covered, it causes the sugar to dissolve, and also keeps sugar crystals from forming on the insides of the pot.

Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and add a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, or use a digital instant read thermometer. Slowly add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, making sure the mixture doesn’t stop bubbling.

The mixture will bubble up quite high for a few seconds before it settles back down. That’s why it’s important to not use a short pot.  Continue to cook the mixture over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 260 degrees, (a hard-ball) on the candy thermometer, or when tested in cold water.  Click here to see how to test candy in cold water.  Immediately remove the pot from the heat.

In case your candy thermometer is not calibrated correctly, (and many are not), the color of the candy should never be any darker than what you see in the pictures below, a cream color. If your candy is brown in color, it’s over cooked.

Next, pour the hot candy onto the cold buttered slab. Drizzle the vanilla over the top. After about 30 seconds, use a thin metal spatula and slide it under the edge of the candy, folding it into the center as you slide the spatula along under the edge. Do this on each side.

As the underside starts to cool, flip it over one time to cool the top side, and keep moving the candy to the coldest area on the marble slab to help it cool down enough to handle.

At this point, if two people are pulling the candy use the edge of the metal spatula and cut the candy in half. Note in the picture below, we cut the candy in half, then moved it to the edge where the slab was cooler.

Read these tips before pulling the candy

  • Use your finger tips to pull the candy. Many people have hot hands. My husband is one of those people. The palms of his hands are always very warm. The more he pulls the candy, the more it sticks to this hands. The more it sticks, the more he feels the need to butter his hands. Don’t do this. Using your finger tips, hold the candy either horizontally or vertical and pull it out about 2 feet in length. If holding it vertically in the air, gravity will help you easily pull the candy downward.
  • Use butter sparingly. You might think adding more butter to your hands helps, but it really doesn’t. It might help for a few seconds, but then you realize you need more. The addition of butter ends up making the candy more sticky. Then you keep adding more butter because the candy is sticking to your hands even more. Make sense? At this point, my husband would be yelling HELP! He finally got it after he ruined 1/2 batch of candy a few times.
  • Use ice water. Place a small bowl of ice water next to your marble slab and a small towel. Dip your fingers in the ice water and dry them off before you start to pull the candy. If the candy starts to stick to your fingers at any point, stop and quickly dip them in the ice water again.

PULLing THE CANDY

You should pull this candy for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. I have included photos below showing what it should look like when it’s ready to be pulled out into a rope and cut into pieces.

Pull the candy out pretty far in length. I pull it out to at least 18 inches, then I fold it over in half and pull it again. I don’t pull it ultra fast but I don’t move like a snail either. I hate to keep picking on my husband, but sometimes he pulls his very slow. If you pull it too slow, it will start to become grainy, and can start to turn into a clump in your hands. Also, don’t simply pull it to about 12 inches and stop. There’s a purpose behind pulling the candy and pulling it long enough and moderately fast enough.

Below are a couple of pictures taken about 1 minute before pulling it into a rope and laying it down. See the shine and texture. It’s no longer sticky and has lost most of its shine. It has a satiny sheen appearance and the candy has become lighter in color. At this point it’s almost ready. I pulled it 2 more times before pulling it into a long rope and putting it down on the marble slab.

Okay, so once it becomes satiny and lighter in color, it’s ready to put down.  If pulled correctly, the candy will have ridges along the top of the candy.  Pull the candy out into a long rope and lay it down on the slab. Some people like their candy to be as much as 3 to 4 inches wide. I like mine about 1 1/5 to 2 inches wide, (perfect bite size).

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy.

As soon as you lay it down, take your scissors from the freezer and start cutting the candy into bite size pieces.

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy.

At this point, the candy will be slightly sticky and rather dense in texture. It is the most delicious tasting Taffy at this stage.  You will want to eat the entire batch just as it is, but you must make yourself leave it alone until it creams.  You’ll thank me later.

Quick tip: You can wrap the taffy-like pieces individually in plastic wrap and freeze them as soon as you cut them. Then you can grab one from the freezer when you want a piece of delicious tasting taffy. Some of my family prefers them frozen.

Transfer the candy pieces to a cookie sheet, and cover the candy with a lint free towel overnight.  You can also put it in a tin, but you must make sure that the pieces are not touching together while they are still slightly sticky.  Often times, this candy will cream within a couple of hours as well.  As soon as the candy creams, transfer it to a candy tin.

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy.

FAQ’s

Why did my candy turn into a clump in my hands?

  • If the candy is over cooked.
  • If the candy is left on the marble slab too long before pulling, such as the slab not being cold enough, and the candy being too hot for too long before being able to handle.
  • If the candy is pulled too slow. You don’t have to feel like you’re in a race when pulling this candy, but by no means don’t poke around at a snails pace either.
  • If the candy is pulled for too long. You need to pull the candy long enough for it to look satiny and lose its shine. It should also hold its ridges when you pull it into a rope. However, as soon as it holds its ridges stop pulling. If you keep pulling past this point it will turn to sugar in your hands.
  • Stopping frequently to butter your hands. Each time you stop the pulling process, the candy will start to try and cream a little.

Why didn’t my candy set up? Mine stayed sticky and stringy and wouldn’t hold its ridges. Why?

When this happens the candy has usually been under cooked. Check your candy thermometer to make sure it’s accurate. It might need to be calibrated. The candy should turn from a whitish color to a cream color when it’s ready to come off the heat. If you keep trying to add butter to your hands to fix this problem, you’ll end up with both sticky and stringy candy.

Why is my cooked candy brown?

It’s been over cooked. It should never be brown. It should be a light cream color when it’s finished cooking. It should lighten up a little more once pulled.

My candy stayed in a taffy stage and did not cream but became hard. Why?

  • The candy has been under cooked (or)
  • The candy wasn’t pulled long enough.

I pulled the candy long enough, but when I left it to cream overnight it turned sugary on the outside. Why?

  • It might have been pulled too long.
  • Or could’ve been slightly over cooked.

Why did my candy burn on the bottom?

The only reason it would burn is if you forget to turn the heat down to medium before adding the cream. The cream should also be added slowly. You should not have to stir it.

Chocolate dipped candy

You might be familiar with the Blue Monday version of this candy made by Ruth Hunt. If you like their chocolate dipped version, you can melt some chocolate and dip the tops or the bottoms in chocolate. I recommend using dark bittersweet chocolate to offset the very sweet candy. However, feel free to use your favorite.

Some people make this candy in different flavors. I have never experimented with different flavors. This candy is so delicious in its original flavor, I don’t dare change it.

Kentucky cream pull candy.

If you like candy recipes, check out my collection of candy recipes!

Check out my recipe posted in Southern Living Magazine!

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Kentucky Cream Pull Candy

  • Author: Cindy Gibbs @ My Country Table
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30

Description

Kentucky Cream Pull Candy is an indulgence you will never forget!!  This candy is made with pure whipping cream and sugar and it gets cooked, pulled, and cut into pieces of taffy-like candy.  Then it gets covered and left to cream overnight.  That’s when the miracle occurs.  It miraculously turns into the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth candy that you will ever eat. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla
  • Butter for marble slab


Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, salt and boiling water in a large pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let mixture cook for exactly 5 minutes.
  2. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium. Add a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Slowly add the cream, a little bit at a time, making sure that the mixture does not stop bubbling. DO NOT stir. Cook until candy reaches 260 degrees on a candy thermometer or forms a hard ball when tested in cold water
  3. Remove candy from heat, and immediately pour onto a very cold buttered marble slab. DO NOT scrape the insides of the pan. Drizzle the vanilla over the surface of the candy. Using a metal spatula, turn each long side of the candy inward. Flip the candy over to cool the top side.
  4. When cool enough to handle, cut the candy in half, (if two people are pulling it). Using your fingertips, pull the candy for at least 3-4 minutes until it’s no longer shiny and sticky and has started to look satiny and lighter in color. It should also hold its ridges when pulled. Pull the candy into long ropes and place it on the marble slab. Using scissors, immediately cut the candy into pieces about 1 1/2″ long. Make sure the candy pieces are not touching since they are still sticky at this point. The candy will now be a consistency of taffy. It’s delicious but try not to eat it.
  5. Cover the candy with a towel and let it set overnight to cream. Candy can be placed in a tin, but pieces should not be touching until the candy has creamed. I find it best to just spread the candy on cookie sheets or leave on the marble slab and cover with a non-frizzy towel.
  6. Yields: About 2 pounds

Notes

  • If you’ve never made this candy, take a moment to look at the illustrated steps above this recipe, before attempting to make it. It’s really not hard…it just takes a few minutes and a little patience, but it is so worth it.
  • Time does not include pulling and cutting candy.