Choose an authentic opera creams
recipe and enjoy an old fashioned candy treat. These creamy confections were once viewed as sinful because they
are so good tasting. Now, you can experience the luxurious taste of these homemade melt-in-your-mouth candies
anytime, as they are so very easy to make. For a real treat,
hand dip them in melted dark chocolate!
Lee's Priceless Recipes (1895)
Two pounds white sugar, 3/4 pint cow's cream; boil to a soft ball; set off; add 2 ounces glucose; set on; stir easy until it commences to boil, then pour out; let get 3/4 cold and stir it until it turns into a cream; then work into it 2 tablespoons vanilla; line a pan with waxed paper, flatten the batch in it, and mark it in squares. Set aside 2 hours to harden.
Melt 4 ounces of butter with 4 ounces plain chocolate; take a batch of the Opera Cream and when cooked add the above (chocolate mixture), stir it in the kettle until it creams, then pan and work it as you do the Operas above.
Marion Harland, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 16, 1913
Into two cups granulated sugar stir enough milk to dissolve it; add one-quarter teaspoon cream of tartar and put over slow fire. Stir constantly while boiling, until a little dropped in cold water is like putty. Pour into pans and set aside until cold and firm; beat to a soft dough-like mass, knead, lay on a sugared pastry board, roll into a sheet one-half inch thick, and cut into squares. —Request of L. N.
The Carbondale Cook Book of Tried and Tested Recipes (1924)
Melt together three-fourths cup of milk, two cups sugar, two squares chocolate. Boil three or four minutes, flavor (with vanilla extract, if preferred) and set in cool place until absolutely cold, then beat until it becomes creamy. Drop into balls on waxed paper.
The Lee's opera creams recipe was first published in 1895, and it could be one of the first homemade recipes for this quality confection that some say originated in the Cincinnati, Ohio area of the United States during the latter part of the 1800s.
There are several thoughts as to why these old fashioned candies are called opera creams. The most likely explanation is "opera drops" were quality cream-filled chocolates once sold during intermissions at the opera, and the word "opera" itself denotes class and richness.
Quality confections such as these were sold in confectionery shops as a luxurious treat affordable mostly to the well off. Those of lesser means were tempted by the jars filled with penny candies and the boxes of chocolates displayed on the front counter of most general stores.