"Grandmother - A wonderful mother with lots of practice."
When I was a child, there were a few things you could count on at my grandmother's house for Christmas. There was always ribbon candy and fudge, laughter, warmth, and haystacks. My great-grandmother, Viola Hook (aka Nana) always made haystacks.
|The child is my grandmother, the woman, my great-grandmother, Viola Hook.|
Nana made haystacks the old fashioned way. No peanut butter or marshmallows; just butterscotch, peanuts and chow mein noodles. I grew up on them, so it's the only way I like them. For us, they were always a part of the Christmas cookie tray, even though they are really more of a candy. In all my years, I've never seen them anywhere else, although when googled, recipes and variations abounded, and for the first time that I've ever noticed, there was a recipe for them on the back of the bag of butterscotch morsels. I've been making them for 30 years and never needed a recipe since they are so incredibly easy, but out of curiosity, I got out Nana's old file box of recipes and poked through it.
Apparently she never needed to write it down either, but there were some curiosities in there worth trying soon. My husband never had them til he met me, but he LOVES them. In fact, when we were first married, for years I would make a tin of them and give them to him for Christmas and he'd eat the whole thing. They are funny looking little things, yet addictingly good! Once the ingredients are stirred together, it is fun for kids to get involved and help shape them and drop them on the wax paper. They're pretty fool-proof and are already a bit goofy-looking, so you can't go wrong!
I am the last American without a microwave, so I'll give you the old-school recipe (the way I make them), followed by a microwave method.
Nana Hook's Haystacks
One 11 ounce bag Nestle Butterscotch Morsels
One 8.5 ounce can Chow Mein Noodles (I use LaChoy brand).
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts (I used the Planter's Sea Salt ones)
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place a medium saucepan half filled with water on the stove on medium high. Bring to a low simmer. Turn down heat a little and place a heat-proof bowl on top of saucepan (or use a double-boiler). Make sure the bowl is completely dry and that no water gets in it (or the candy will seize). Pour morsels in the bowl. Leave it uncovered. When most of the morsels are shiny, stir just until melted. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the chow mein noodles and peanuts. Place small blobs of the mixture on the cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Allow to cool completely and place in cookie tins. Store in a cool dry place, or the refrigerator.
Microwave morsels in a large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70%) power for 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 second intervals, just until melted. Stir in chow mein noodles and peanuts and toss until all ingredients are coated. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Cool completely and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.