When giving these as gifts, place each piece in a small paper or foil candy cup and arrange the cups in a shallow, airtight container to create your own sampler box. There’s little chance that the first First Lady actually made or ate these sweets; the name likely came from the now defunct chain of Martha Washington candy stores.
Yield: 8 dozen pieces.
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (14-ounce) package sweetened, flaked coconut
4 cups pecans, finely chopped
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Finely chop the cherries and let drain on a paper towel.
Stir together the melted butter, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in coconut, pecans, and cherries.
Form mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
In a small glass bowl, microwave the chocolate morsels and shortening at 50 percent reduced power in 30-second intervals until the morsels begin to soften and lose their shape, then stir until melted and smooth. Alternatively, heat the chocolate and shortening in a small saucepan over low heat until the morsels begin to soften and lose their shape, then remove the pan from the heat and stir until melted and smooth.
Working with one candy ball at a time, coat each piece in chocolate. Lift it out with a fork and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place the coated ball on waxed paper or parchment paper to set.
Cover the coated candies loosely with plastic wrap or nonstick aluminum foil, and chill until the chocolate is set. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Tip: You can replace the semisweet chocolate morsels and shortening with 2 (16-ounce) packages of candy coating.