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A Sweet Day

Making candy for the holidays

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Staci Andrews, Myrt Huerter, Liz Andrews, Demi Andrews Duggar

SWEETEST DAY Three generations – Staci Andrews, Myrt Huerter, Liz Andrews, and Demi Andrews Duggar (from left) – gather once a year to make Christmas candy. (Photo:

For the Andrews family, candy-making is the tradition that heralds the holidays. When Liz and Rob Andrews married 13 years ago, both had been divorced. “I loved being married, but I didn’t have any kids,” Liz says. “I really wanted to find someone who had kids. I wanted a family.” Rob had two teenaged daughters.

“They were the perfect ages, into makeup and clothes,” Liz says of the girls, Staci Andrews and Demi Andrews Dugger. (Their mom, Heidi Ruggles, lives in Katy and is remarried.) In addition to fashion, Liz got the girls excited about making her own family’s Christmas candy recipes, and that’s what they’ve been doing every weekend after Thanksgiving for the past seven or eight years.

“It was 1964, I was in first grade, when my mom got her recipe for bonbons,” Liz says. 

Liz’s 91-year-old mother Myrt Huerter remembers: “My husband and I were transferred from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Muskogee, Oklahoma. I joined a ceramics group, and the recipe came from the ladies who ran it.” Myrt says she had fond memories of helping her own mother in the kitchen by pulling taffy with her sister. “When our kids got old enough, we started making candy. We’ve been doing it ever since.”

“Back in the day,” Liz says, “my mother would make the candy and line those red, 3-pound Folgers cans with wax paper and fill them with bonbons. Then she’d put the plastic lid on and put them in the freezer, or she’d just put them in the garage, because it was cold enough. I’d sneak out and eat them.”

The candies, Liz says, “makes me think of home and history and family and traditions. My dad was a manager for Sears, and we moved around a little. Wherever we went, we made these candies at Christmas.”

Today, Liz, Myrt, Staci, and Demi gather at Liz’s house for a whole day of candy-making. “It’s usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but then Demi got married and Staci and her boyfriend bought a house, and they have multiple families to visit. So we get together on the closest weekend we can after Thanksgiving.”

Staci Andrews, Myrt Huerter, Liz Andrews, Demi Andrews Duggar

Myrt Huerter, Demi Andrews Duggar, Staci Andrews, and Liz Andrews (from left) get together after Thanksgiving to make homemade candy for Christmas. Here, they are enjoying the fruits of their labor. (Photo:

Everyone has their job. Demi explains: “I know I’m stirring the chocolate and dipping the bonbons, Staci’s making the peanut brittle, Liz is…well Liz is doing everything. We have a good rhythm, and we enjoy it.” Myrt rolls the balls for the bonbons, and Rob’s only job is eating. “It’s a girls’ day,” Liz says. “A lot of rolling and dipping in chocolate!”

In addition to the bonbons, the family also makes fudge. “We’ve been making that for a long time, too. I can’t make it as good as my mother, but I’m attempting,” Liz says.

A few new recipes have found their way into the candy-making day. “My husband’s mother would make these little butter mints,” Liz says. “He just loves them, so the girls and I make them in different colors for the holidays, red and green and yellow and blue.”

Then there’s the peanut brittle. “Mom and Dad started making peanut brittle in their 60s,” Liz says. “Now, Staci is the peanut brittle queen. She’s into it. Mom came and showed her how to make it and how to stir.” The peanut brittle has become Rob’s favorite result of the day. Liz jokes, “He tries to limit the amount he eats, but he has trouble.”

“We make [the day] a priority,” Demi says. “We get to chitchat while we’re making the candy, catching up on each other’s lives, telling Myrt what’s going on in our lives, as much as we can without burning all the candies. Which has happened before. We’ve made mistakes, but we’re in a good spot now.”

Liz, who works part-time for her husband’s management consulting company, likes to finish their candy-making before the company Christmas parties get started. “We host these big parties at our house, and it gets really busy,” she says. That’s when the candies are nice to have in the freezer. “I’ll put them out for holiday parties, or if people come over on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” Liz says. “You can just pick them up and pop them in your mouth. It’s nice to have a little chocolate after a meal.”

When their sweet day is done, the girls will take some home to their significant others, and Liz will freeze the rest. “A lot of times I’m out by the time Christmas comes, because we’re all eating them,” she laughs.

The candies are a labor of love. “I mean it’s the whole day,” Liz says, “from the minute they walk in in the morning until 6 or 7 that night.”

And there’s no question what comes after the full day in the kitchen: “We go to bed!” Liz says.

Huerter-Andrews Family Bonbons

Huerter-Andrews Family Bonbons (Photo:

Huerter-Andrews Family Bonbons

1 can Eagle brand condensed milk
2 small cans coconut (14 ounces)
1 cube margarine
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 pound pecan pieces
12-ounce package chocolate chips
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 ⁄ 3 bar paraffin

Mix the condensed milk, coconut, margarine, powdered sugar, and pecan pieces together and roll into balls about walnut size. Put the balls in the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the chocolate chips, chocolate, and paraffin in a double boiler. Dip the balls into the chocolate with a toothpick. Place them on wax paper and refrigerate.

Myrt Huerter’s Fantasy Fudge

Myrt Huerter’s Fantasy Fudge (Photo:

Myrt Huerter’s Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
¾ cup margarine
2 ⁄ 3 cup (5 ¼ ounce can) evaporated milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped nuts (Myrt uses pecans)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the sugar, margarine, and milk. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes (I usually boil about 7) over medium heat or until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees (or until a small amount of the mixture forms a soft ball in water), stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add the marshmallow cream, nuts, and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Pour into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Cool, and cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds.


Myrt Huerter’s Peanut Brittle

1 cup sugar
½ cup white corn syrup
1 cup raw peanuts, shelled
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

Spray a cookie sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 4 minutes. Stir in the peanuts with a sprayed spoon. Microwave the peanut mixture on high power for 3 more minutes. Add the butter and vanilla and stir. Microwave on high power for 1 ½ more minutes. Add the baking soda, and gently stir until the mixture is light and foamy.

Pour the peanut brittle mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and allow the brittle to cool 1 ½ hours. Break the brittle into small pieces and store in an airtight container.


Buttermints (pictured, with the recipe card for bonbons) are a newer addition to the candy-making day. Liz's husband's mother used to make them, and Rob loves them. (Photo:


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus extra for rolling
¼ teaspoon pure peppermint oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
Food coloring (optional)

Combine the butter and 4 cups confectioners’ sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the peppermint oil and milk, and beat on medium speed until combined.

Lightly dust a cutting board with confectioners’ sugar and turn the dough out onto the board. If you’re using food coloring, add 1 to 2 drops (or more for deeper color) and knead it into the dough with your hands until incorporated. If you’re making multiple colors, divide the dough into several pieces first (one for each color) and add the food coloring to each piece, starting with 1 drop and kneading, adding 1 drop at a time, until the desired colors are reached. Gather each piece of dough into a ball.

Sift more confectioners’ sugar over the cutting board. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (if you haven’t divided it already), and set 3 of the pieces aside, loosely covered in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Using your hands, and dusting them with confectioners’ sugar, gently roll one piece of dough into a log about ½ inch in diameter.

Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the log into ½-inch pieces. Lay the pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet to dry. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough, and allow the candies to dry at room temperature, uncovered, overnight. 

Store the buttermints, layered between parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature, away from light, for up to 2 weeks.

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