Hard candy troubles

I have been trying to make hard candies and have been pretty successful, except that when they are done- they are still sticky and never fully harden past the point of being sticky (even once they are in the freezer). Does anyone have any suggestions of what I am doing wrong? and how I can fix the problem?

over 6 years ago

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Are you sure you have the correct temperature? It should boil for the proper amount of time also. Have you tried the ice water drop method to see if it forms to the right consistency?

over 6 years ago

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CANDY 101

How Candymaking Works
Sugar Temperature Chart
Candy Ingredients
General Candy Formulas
Nutritionals
The Role of Sugar Crystals
General Tips
How to Cook Sugar
All About Sugar
Storage
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Working with boiled sugar syrup can be dangerous because it is extremely hot and it burns. Sugar melts at 320 degrees, and can be heated up to 350 degrees F !! By comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F, and we all know how hot that is.

The Official Candy Chart

Tips about using candy molds
Sugar confectionery refers to a large range of food items, commonly known as sweets. Confections come in a variety of forms including hard, hard or chewy candies, caramels, toffees, jellies, gummies, fudge, nougats, marshmallows, fondants, marzipan and other nut pastes and butters, chocolates and compounds. Sometimes different components are blended into one item, such as the chocolate bar filled with caramel and nougat, cream-filled licorice or the chocolate or nut piece coated with a sugar-based candy shell.

Always make candy on a cool, dry day. Because candy is made from sugar, and it pulls in moisture from the air, rain and humidity, the cooking time can increase substantially. It also may never set up at all -- the candy will absorb water from the air and turn into syrup. (Caramel syrup can be made, however).
I usually try to check out the weather, but if I can't, then I do this little "thing" that I have done for years: I press my chin down to my chest and then lift. If it sticks then the humidity is high, if not, it isn't. -Tami

Everyone has a favorite sugar candy. Whether it's creamy caramels or salty peanut brittle, wouldn't it be great to make homemade candy? Or, if you are an experienced candy maker, wouldn't it be nice to have answers to your questions right at your fingertips? If you've said yes, then you have come to the right place.

Candy mixtures should boil, not simmer, at a moderate, steady rate over their entire surface. Cooking too fast or slow makes candy too hard or soft, that can burn easily.
Remember, it's always wise not to be too ambitious when you're new to the art; don't laugh, but start with the easiest recipe such as Rock candy. Here you will get used to boiling a sugar solution, measuring it's temperature, etc. Then, try and tackle the more difficult one such as peanut brittle. Fudge can be difficult to make. (Chocolate candy is made in a different way and making truffles are also a good way to start).

It sounds so simple, huh? It's not. Making any type of candy is not easy and definitely take practice because there are so many variables at play at once. But, it can be fun to do! So let's learn some candy making basics and how to make some delectable recipes. Happy Baking, Sarah

~~~~~~~~

There are hundreds of varieties of candy, but they are all classified into three basic types. The classification depends on the ingredients used. Sometimes recipes call for combining two or more types of candies giving a soft center and a hard sugar outer coating.

The first type, hard candy, consists almost entirely of sugars, with the addition of small amounts of flavoring and color. Peppermint sticks, fruit drops, and clear mints are common hard candies. The confection known as rock candy is almost pure sugar.

The second type, mostly soft candies such as marshmallows, some jellies, and nougats. It consists of sugar to which no more than 5 percent of other ingredients have been added. Cotton candy, frequently found at carnivals and amusement parks, is almost pure spun sugar that has been melted with only a small amount of coloring added. Marshmallows are made by whipping air into a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, egg whites, and flavorings. The popular form is white and covered with powdered sugar. It can also be purchased in a nearly liquid form for use as ice cream topping or in cooking. Harder types are often formed into peanut or other shapes and colored.

The third group of candies contains large proportions of ingredients other than sugars such as fudge, caramels, chocolates, sugar- or chocolate-covered raisins or nuts, and pastes. Among the pastes, marzipan is probably the best known. It is made from crushed almonds, sugar, and egg whites. However, chocolate fudge is probably the candy most easily and commonly made at home. It consists of corn syrup, sugar, chocolate, vanilla, milk, and butter cooked together until the desired consistency is reached. It is then cooled and allowed to harden.

Candy Bars - History: At the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a World's Fair held in Chicago, chocolate-making machinery made in Dresden, Germany, was displayed. It caught the eye of Milton S. Hershey, who had made his fortune in caramels, saw the potential for chocolate. He installed chocolate machinery in his factory in Lancaster, and produced his first chocolate bars in 1894. Other Americans began mixing in other ingredients to make up new candy bars throughout the end of the 1890's and the early 1900's.
It was World War I that really brought attention to the candy bar. The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps commissioned various American chocolate manufacturers to provide 20 to 40 pound blocks of chocolate to be shipped to quartermaster bases. The blocks were chopped up into smaller pieces and distributed to doughboys in Europe. Eventually the task of making smaller pieces was turned back to the manufacturers. By the end of the war when the doughboys arrived home, the American candy bar business was assured. As a result, from that time on and through the 1920s, candy bar manufacturers became established througout the United States, and as many as 40,000 different candy bars appeared on the scene. The Twenties became the decade that among other things, was the high point of the candy bar industry.

The original candy bar industry had its start on the eastern seaboard in such cities as Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. The industry soon spread to the Midwest, because shipping and raw materials such as sugar, corn syrup, and milk were easily available. Chicago became the seat of the candy bar industry and is even today an important base.

Other candies include: Panned candies, which are made by coating nuts, fruits, caramel, nougat, chocolate, or jellies with sugar or chocolate. Examples are jelly beans, candy Easter eggs, chocolate-covered raisins, and sugar-covered almonds. The hard candy coatings are made from layers of sugar syrup or chocolate sealed with a glaze.

Licorice (from Greek words meaning "sweet" and "root") is made from the licorice plant, an herb native to Southern Europe. Thickened juice of the roots is used to make the candy. To get the juice the roots are crushed, ground, and boiled. Apart from its use in candy, licorice is an ingredient used to mask unpleasant flavors in medicines.

Candy bars vary from simple chocolate bars to more complex chocolate-covered nougats or other coated centers. Many have names that have little to do with their contents. For example, popular candy bars have been named after President Cleveland's first daughter (Baby Ruth), baseball star Reggie Jackson, the Three Musketeers, and New York City's Fifth Avenue.


How Candymaking Works:


The white stuff we know as sugar is sucrose, a molecule composed of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen (C12H22O11). Like all compounds made from these three elements, sugar is a carbohydrate. It?s found naturally in most plants, but especially in sugarcane and sugar beets ? hence their names.
Candy making is an exact science and recipes include the use of crystalline (sucrose) and other sugars as its main ingredient. In all cases, each type of sugar-based candy pretty much starts out the same. Crystalline sugar ( a solute) and sometimes corn syrup are dissolved in a liquid, usually water (a solvent) to make a sugar solution, which is then heated and boiled into a liquid, sugar syrup. This is done to a certain temperature, concentration (density) and color depending on the recipe. Flavoring, cream, chocolate, nuts or other ingredients can be added, either before, during or after cooking, some serving as what it called interfering agents, such as lemon juice, butter, cream, etc. Plus, the solution may be stirred at pre-determined times, cooled and shaped in a certain way, resulting in different types of candy and textures.

Sugars are made up of simple molecules. Sucrose, for example, is made up of two simpler sugars stuck together: glucose and fructose. Identical molecules are stacked together in neat organized geometric patterns repeated over and over again making a unique crystalline structure.


Under a microscope, you can see that sugar crystals aren?t cubes, exactly, but oblong and slanted at both ends.
(Image courtesy of Nutrition and Food Management Dept., Oregon State University)
Sugar has special properties which make it an ideal candidate for candy recipes. Sugar crystals remain solid at room temperature. When sugar crystals are dissolved in water, the first step in candymaking, the sugar goes into solution. It is then heated and boiled to certain temperatures. Here you are making chemical changes or reactions in the sugar; the heat breaks the crystals apart into molecules which at some point will come back together again as a sugar crystal as the sugar syrup cools. The fact that it solidifies into crystals after heating, is extremely important in candy making.

The picture shows Rock candy, which contains large sugar crystals attached to on another. It is made in a way similar to other candy recipes - the water and sugar are boiled first and then cooled slowly, without stirring, causing large crystals to form on a string or stick which provides a foreign object that they can cluster on.
The goal in candymaking is to control the way these individual molecules come back together again to form a new crystalline structure and size particular to the type of candy you want. Generally, recipe ingredients and procedures are specifically designed to control the reformation and size of sugar crystals. This results in two categories of candy: Crystalline and Non-crystalline. Here candy can range from the soft textures of caramels and fudges, where crystallization is minimized, to hard candies where crystallization results in a desired grainy or crystalline structure. This does not occur as smoothly as one hopes because of the nature of sugar crystals.

A Candy Thermometer is the most accurate way of testing the temperature of the sugar solution. I use mine all the time.
Even without heat, crystallized sugar will dissolve in water. Up to a certain point, that is. The general principle with candy making is that at a particular temperature, a given solvent (in this case, water) can dissolve only so much of a particular solute (sugar), reaching its saturation point where no more sugar can be dissolved. In other words, sugar crystals added to the solution after saturation will just sink to the bottom of the container. But heating the sugar/water solution will increase the amount of sugar that can be dissolved. That's because heat disrupts sugar's crystalline structure, breaking apart the sugar's molecules which allow more of it to dissolve in the water. As you have probably already found out, sugar dissolves more readily in hot liquids than in cold.

As the sugar solution continues to be heated, the sugar's molecules move faster and become farther apart, enabling the solution to dissolve more and more sugar molecules, until it boils. Here, the sugar solution turns into a clear, syrupy substance, called a sugar syrup. Sugar syrups have various other uses than in candy making, such as soaking cakes, glazing baked goods, poaching or preserving fruit, adding to frostings, etc.

SUGAR SYRUP: Also called "Simple Syrup", sugar syrup is a solution of sugar(s). Sugar syrup can be made in various densities: Thin (3 parts water to 1 part sugar); Medium (2 parts water to 1 part sugar); and, Heavy (1 part water to 1 part sugar) Depending on the thickness, sugar syrups have various uses including soaking cakes (such as babas), glazing baked goods, poaching or preserving fruit, adding to frostings, etc.
Once the solution boils, many water molecules are released into the air, concentrating the solution as a sugar syrup and raising its boiling point. In general, a solid, such as sugar, dissolved in a liquid makes it harder for the liquid molecules to escape. Consequently, the solution has to be hotter for the liquid molecules to get away at the same rate, and the boiling point rises.

As boiling point increases, the concentration of solute continues to increase. You can use the temperature of the boiling syrup to tell when enough water has boiled away to give the syrup the right ratio of sugar to water for each candy recipe. For example, the boiling point of water is usually 212 degrees F. However, when the liquid is around 70 percent sugar, the boiling temperature rises to 230 degrees. At 240 degrees, the solution will be 80 percent sugar, and a small portion of the solution will form a soft ball when dropped in cold water. At about 300 degrees, the solution, now about 98 percent sugar.

As the solution is heated to above the boiling point, the solution becomes supersaturated. Here, more water evaporates and the concentration of sugar crystals to water increases. Now the solution has a delicate balance of just enough sugar molecules and just enough heat to keep them dissolved, but it is in an unstable state. The sugar molecules will begin to crystallize back into a solid at the least provocation and disruption of heat. Stirring or jostling of any kind or introducing a new sugar crystal from an outside source into syrup, can cause the sugar molecules to begin recrystallizing to return to their original, dry and stable crystalline state.

The magic in making candy is learning when to stir the sugar syrup and knowing when to stop it from cooking. See Candymaking Chart.
Sometimes you can see unwanted crystallization happening before your eyes, for example when the sugar syrup becomes a stiff and crackled mess in your pot upon cooling, ruining the whole batch. Sometimes you don't always see that unwanted crystallization has occurred until it's too late. For example, once I made homemade fudge and could hardly wait to taste it. When the moment came, and it bit into a piece, to my surprise it was sandy and gritty, rather than smooth and creamy! Into the garbage can it went.

When boiling stops and the cooling process starts, if you've done everything right, the syrup continues to cool as a supersaturated solution and you get the recrystallization you want, the size of which is also influenced by stirring, kneading or beating. At a higher temperature the rate of crystallization is slow and becomes more rapid at a lower temperature.

Whether you stir the sugar syrup or not during cooking or afterwards is determined by the type of candy being made.

Basic candy making steps:

? Prepare the ingredients and pans: There are different ingredient (formulas) used depending upon the candy recipe. Weighing ingredients is the most accurate way to measure solids, such as sugar, but it can also be measured in a dry measuring cup. Measure liquids in a liquid measuring cup.

High humidity (over 60 percent) in the room in which you?re cooking will affect the finished candy. On rainy days, some say to cook the candy mixture a degree or two higher than indicated in the recipe to help compensate, but it doesn't always work. Some candies ? like divinity ? absolutely cannot be made on a humid day.
Prepare all equipment and tools in advance; you won't be able to once the candy making steps start. All pots and utensils must be spotless and dry. If using a buttered pan or platter, always have the pan ready before making candy.

Prevent crystals from forming by buttering the sides of the saucepan before adding ingredients so when mixture bubbles up, grains of sugar can't cling.

? The first step - mix together the ingredients: The sugar and water ingredients are put into a 2 to 3 qt saucepan (large enough so boiled sugar does not overflow) and placed over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Most candy recipes require that the sides of the pot be washed down early in the cooking process, either with a wet pastry brush or by putting the lid on the pan for about three minutes to remove any sugar crystals clinging to the container walls. It is also why the recipes specify that the sides and bottom of the pan should not be scraped into the bowl where the candy is to cool. There is too much chance of scraping in a stray sugar crystal. Afterwards, place a candy thermometer on the side of the pan.

Any agitation can cause unwanted crystallization that happens by accidentally bumping into the pan, moving it while cooking, stirring the contents in the pan at the wrong time or placing it on the countertop with a bang.

? Boil the mixture until the desired temperature has been reached: Boil sugar solution according to the recipe and measure its temperature with a candy thermometer. Keep the temperature constant; never try to rush a candy mixture by cooking it at a higher temperature than the recipe directs, or slow it down by reducing the heat.

? Cool: All sweets are cooled slightly before being shaped. How the solution is cooled also affects the type of candy.

If you cool quickly after you boil at a known heat, the candy forms as a crystalline or brittle type such as rock candy. At a bit slower cooling after boiling at the same temperature, the candy forms a non-crystalline structure known as a taffy or caramel. For more crystalline candy like fudge, the mixture is set aside to cool slowly. Then it is stirred again to break crystals into smaller pieces, making the fudge smooth and creamy. Lastly, if you add a gelatin, starch, pectin, or gum to the boiling mixture the sugar will gel and make products like jelly beans, Turkish delight, and licorices.

Most simply, the boiled mass is poured onto a table (this should be made from metal, stone, or marble to cool the recipe uniformly).

It is important that the boiled mass is cooled sufficiently, since if it is to be formed by hand there is a danger that you may suffer burns.

Q: My pan has baked-on crystallized sugar which I am having much trouble removing when I clean the pans. Is there a good way to remove this sticky stuff? A. Pans with baked on crystallized sugar are unavoidable. Fill the pan water, put it on the stove, turn the burner up to high, and let the crystallized sugar dissolve as the water boils. Then clean as usual. You can also put any utensils that you used in boiling the sugar into the pan to clean at the same time.

? Stir / Beat / Shape: Stir the candy at the proper stirring temperature. In the case of caramels and lollipops, no stirring is necessary; candy may be transferred directly to serving pan. For candies that must be stirred, continue until mass is thick and stirring difficult due to crystallization.

Beating is a process which controls the process of crystallization and produces crystals of a small size. For example in the production of fudge, the mass is poured onto the table, left to cool, and then beaten with a wood or metal beater.

There are two main ways of forming sweets: cutting into pieces, or setting in molds. Molds may be as simple as a greased and lined tray. Others can be made from rubber, plastic, metal, starch, or wood. The mixture is poured into the impressions and allowed to set.

The table below outlines the processing stages for a selected range of confectionery items.

Mix ingredients
Boil
Cool
Beat
Form/set

Hard-boiled sweets * * * *
Fondant * * * * *
Toffees/caramels * * * *
Fudge * * * * *
Jellies * * * *
Marshmallows * * * * *

SOME EXAMPLES from two candy recipes. Follow all instructions to the letter.

Nut Brittle

Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. You should no longer to feel any grains of sugar against the bottom of the pan when you stir

Move pan off the heat, with a wet pastry brush or wet paper towel, wipe any grains of sugar from the sides of the pan above the liquid level. Place pan back on heat.

Clip on candy thermometer and bring the syrup to a boil. (Read the thermometer at eye level.) Do not stir or shake.

Boil syrup to the hard crack stage (300 to 310 degrees F / 132 to143 degrees C). When it has reached this stage, stir in the butter and the mixture will cool down. Then, return to heat until the mixture reaches the soft crack stage (270 degrees to 290 degrees F / 132 to 143 degrees C). Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients and nuts as the recipe directs. Pour onto baking sheets when thoroughly mixed.

Classic Fudge

Heat the chocolate, sugar, half-and-half and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, scraping down the sides of the pan with a wooden-handled, heat-proof spatula.

Clamp on a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. (Read the thermometer at eye level.)

Boil the mixture gently, scraping frequently to prevent burning until the temperature is 236 degrees F (113 degrees C). Do not stir or shake. Turn off the heat.

Drop 2 tablespoons of butter on top and stir quickly. Allow to cool to 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). Remove the thermometer. Add other ingredients from the recipe and beat. Pour or knead and press into greased pan.


Using the Candy Thermometer:
Before you start making candy, calibrate your candy thermometer: Water should boil at 212 degrees F. Measure the boiling point of water with your new thermometer by leaving it in boiling water for 10 minutes. Add or subtract any difference when determining the end-point of the boil of your sugar slurry.

The temperature the sugar solution boils to and its color determine whether or not the sugar solution will harden into a soft and creamy Fudge or a hard and brittle, Nut Brittle. Temperature and color are recorded on a Sugar Syrup Chart. The chart tells you how hot to boil the sugar solution to, its corresponding color and what it looks like when dropped in cold water, called the Cold Water (Viscosity) Test. The temperature and color are directly related to the type of candy you're making. Experienced candy makers can just look at the sugar syrup's color and know when it's done, but for beginners (and even experienced candy makers), I recommend using a Candy Thermometer at all times. Ranked from best to worst are: Candy Thermometer, Viscosity (Soft-Ball Test), Color, Time.

Don't double a candy recipe -- rather, make 2 separate batches instead. Increasing the amount of ingredients changes the cooking time, adversely affecting the final recipe.
A Candy Thermometer makes candy-making easier and more foolproof by indicating the exact temperature, and thus the concentration of the syrup. The concentration of the syrup determines whether the finished product is a soft and creamy fudge or a hard and brittle. Note the exact temperature to boil the sugar syrup to will differ by recipe and type of candy being made. At higher altitudes candy cooks faster.

Read thermometer at eye level. Watch the sugar solution carefully and read the thermometer frequently. Look at the thermometer at eye level to read it accurately -- do not remove it from the pan until your recipe is done cooking.

CANDY THERMOMETER TIPS: Using a Candy THERMOMETER is the most accurate way to determine when to stop the boil. Buy a thermometer with a clip that attaches to the side of your pan.
Every time you place the thermometer in the pot, make sure it is spotless and dry. A speck of old sugar left on it could ruin the whole batch by crystallizing it.
When you start to cook your candy, have the thermometer nearby, resting in a container of warm water. Be sure to dry it before using. Then it will be preheated when you lower it into the hot mixture.
Clip the candy thermometer to pan after cleaning the sugar from the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush and the right before syrup boils.
The bulb of the thermometer must be covered with boiling liquid, not just foam, but it should never touch the bottom of the pan.
Knowing when to stop boiling the sugar solution is crucial. Stopping the boil at 234 degrees F really means 234 degrees F. Don't sit and watch the thermometer climb to 236 degrees F 'just to be sure.' Remember, over boiling is as bad as under boiling.
When you remove the thermometer, put it back into the warm water.
To remove sticky sugar, while still warm, place in hot water. Dry and let the thermometer cool before putting away. I keep mine in the drawer where it won't be disturbed.

The importance of temperature in candy making: With sugar and water, you can make five kinds of candy through temperature and density! Of course, you add other ingredients to the candy at different times depending on the recipe i.e. flavorings, nuts, chocolate, butter, coconut to make it taste better and to get variety. Often, you add food color to improve eye appeal but temperature remains the key to the kind of candy you make whenever you cook up a sugar mixture.

Suppose you put sugar and water in a pan over heat, cover the pan and, shaking the pan, bring the mixture to a boil dissolving the sugar. Uncover the pan and continue cooking it at a low boil until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage (234 to 240 degrees F?syrup, when dropped into a bowl of very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens on removal from the water). If you take some out at this point, you can make fondant, fudge or penuche with it.

If you continue cooking the syrup remaining in the pan until it reaches the firm-ball stage (244 to 248 degrees F?syrup, when dropped into a bowl of very cold water, forms a firm ball that does not flatten on removal from the water), you could remove a part of it to make caramels.

By cooking the rest of the syrup to the hard-ball stage (250 to 266 degrees F?syrup, when dropped into a bowl of very cold water, forms a hard ball which holds its shape, yet is plastic), you could pour some out to cool and pull it for taffy or make divinity.

Continue cooking the syrup still in the pan to the soft crack stage (270 to 290 degrees F?syrup, when dropped into a bowl of very cold water, separates into threads which are hard but not brittle), and again pour out a part?you've got butterscotch or taffy.

Bring the last of the syrup to the hard crack stage (300 to 310 degrees F?syrup, when dropped into a bowl of very cold water, separates into threads, which are hard and brittle), and make lollipops or brittles.


Candy Making Tools:

The most important thing to do before making any kind of candy is having all the essential tools. Here are some that I recommend, however they will vary by recipe. Most tools you will have on hand already; others can be purchased at a general cookware or cake decorating store. Not all tools are needed when making a candy recipe; it will direct you as to what you need. For stores carrying candy making supplies, see Pantry: Sources.

Heavy (copper, anodized aluminum, cast aluminum or cast iron) pot with a 2- to 3-quart capacity for making sugar candy. Make sure it's a smooth, heavy-bottomed pan with straight sides for candy cookery because the sugar solution will boil upwards and you don't want to get burned or make a huge mess. Many candies scorch easily in lightweight pans. The saucepan should be an appropriate size for the recipe and match the size of the burner or be slightly smaller to minimize heat fluctuations in the candy.

A double-boiler for chocolate candy making.

4 quart Pyrex dish, if the recipe calls for it. The bowl needs to be heat safe since you'll be pouring molten sugar syrup directly into it. This effectively rules out plastic bowls.

Long handled wooden spoons unless you can find heat proof metal spoons. Plastic spatula will melt since this solution is much hotter than boiling water. Make sure it is clean and dry EVERY TIME you dip it in the candy mixture to stir.

Candy thermometer: Mine is mounted on a metal frame and made by Taylor, and it works very well for this. Select one that registers from 100 to 400 degrees F and handles easily in hot mixtures, such as one with a plastic handle. The thermometer should be immersed below the surface of the syrup, but it should not touch the bottom or sides of the pan. Hold the thermometer at eye level to read it accurately. It should be left there for the duration of cooking. When finished, let thermometer completely cool before washing.

Spatulas (2 - 3) - ones that can handle high temperatures

Ice water in a large bowl, big enough to fit the pot when immersed and ready to dip your hands in in case of burns.

Pastry brushes are little tools you will also use a lot. Whenever a recipe calls for a hot, cooked sugar mixture, you will need to wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in hot water. This prevents crystallization that would ruin the batch.

Stand mixer with paddle attachment (not a hand-held one), optional (just easier than mixing by hand)

Liquid and dry measuring cups & spoons

Pyrex glass or aluminum baking pans

Sieve or perforated spoon for skimming

Marble or granite surface or vegetable-sprayed parchment paper placed on the back of a baking sheet, or a Silpat mat.

Aluminum foil: For a candy making surface that can take the heat, use a sheet of foil. Spread candies such as peanut brittle, fudge and almond bark into a thin layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. There's no sticking and no cleanup.

Vegetable oil spray

Timer or clock

Good oven mitts, preferably ones that cover your forearm.

Candy molds
Cooling racks
Rubber cleaning gloves or surgical gloves ? to protect your hands from the heat, cleaning gloves work best. Either thickness will also protect the sugar from any dampness on your hands as you work with it.

Other:

Dehumidifying agent (silica blue gel or quicklime) to protect the finished pieces.

Glycerin; glycerine The commercial name for glycerol, a colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid--chemically, an alcohol--obtained from fats and oils and used to retain moisture and add sweetness to foods. It also helps prevent sugar crystallization in foods like candy. Available from wilton.com.

Tools for more specialized work:

General:

? Kitchen scissors
? Heat lamp to keep sugar warm and pliable
? Leaf mold to form larger rose leaves
? Oiled metal spatula for sugar ribbons

For Sugar Cages, Corkscrews, Teeter-Totters, Shards:

? Ladle, copper or stainless steel mixing bowl or other bowl to form cage shape
? Knife-sharpening steel or wooden spoon to form corkscrews
? Dinner knife or narrow metal spatula for teeter-totters and shards

For Spun Sugar:

?Metal whisk with end cut off and wires spread slightly or long, narrow metal spatula

For Pulled Sugar:

?Lemon juice (delays re-crystallization and gives sugar flexibility)
?Small drop bottle


Candy Storage:

Land O'Lakes says: Each type of candy is always stored according to its type. Airtight storage in a cool place is best. Some candies may be frozen, but avoid freezing those made with fruits and nuts.

Keeping candy for short term (two months or less):

Protect taffies, caramels, nougats, and popcorn balls from dampness by wrapping them individually in clear plastic wrap;

Store individually wrapped candies in boxes, tins or cartons with tight-fitting lids.

Exception: For small hard candies, sprinkle candy with finely ground sugar (not powdered) and store in jar with tight-fitting lid.

Do not mix candies that absorb moisture (caramels, mints, hard candies) in the same container as candies that lose moisture (fudge, fondants, meringues). If these types of candies are mixed, the hard candies will become sticky. For instance, brittles soften if stored with creamy candies.

Use waxed paper to individually wrap or separate layers of fudge in storage container.

Keeping candy for long term (up to 12 months):

Most candies freeze well for longer storage. Wrap tightly in plastic food wrap or aluminum foil. Be sure to label with contents and date. When ready to eat, thaw wrapped candy at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

*Truffles can be frozen for up to 2 months.

*Fudge

*Toffee can be frozen for up to 2 months

*Most caramels should be stored about 2 weeks at room temperature

*Nut brittles should be stored about 1 week at room temperature

*Be careful when freezing - I make all of my candy that freezes well first and save things like caramels till last. Be sure to use coating chocolate for candies that need to be dipped, otherwise freezing and storing can cause "bloom", which is when the cocoa butter comes to the surface and causes gray or white streaks and dots - it doesn't mean that the candy has spoiled but it doesn't look very nice.

Some candy information and resources from: http://www.landolakes.com/mealideas/holidaytips.cfm, www.cfs.purdue.edu/Class/F&N202/ animated_crystallization.ppt, www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar.html and starchefs.com/c_and_h/html/tips.html and http://www.wilton.com

over 6 years ago

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3 comments
1. Tucson, United States  over 1 year ago

I need help making home made milk chocolate for coating candy. This last recipe I cooked 3 cups milk, 3 cups sugar and 5 tbs cocoa powder to 240 degress than added 1 tbs unsalted butter and 1 tsp vanilla. It said to pour into a pan lined with wax paper and I can't get the chocolate unstuck from the wax paper and it is soft and sticky. I want hard chocolate can you please help?


2.  over 1 year ago

I attempted to make herbal cough drops with maple syrup and light Caro syrup. (I doubled the recipe...I see, above, that that was a mis-step). I tried two batches and could not seem to get the temperature to go above 225. It this a solvent/sugar ratio or humidity issue...or something else?


3. Hanover, United States  4 months ago

Make sure the bulb of candy thermometer is not resting on the bottom of your pan or won't get accurate temp reading

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Recipe Review

Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

This is a great recipe and it's is so simple. I changed it up a bit. I substituted almonds and left some of them fairly chunky. I also added dried diced apricots to the dry ingredients along with about 1/2 cup sesame seeds. After cooling I added some melted dark chocolate and dropped a bit on top of each cookie. I then added a sliver of dry apricot to rest on top of the chocolate. They looked smashing and they had an excellent flavor.