Candy Making Basics
I started making home-made candy about six years ago and through trial and error I have learned some things that are very important to know when making candy. If you are making candy that requires a candy thermometer, try to find a good metal one or a nice digital one. These prove to be more accurate then the glass ones. You may pay a little more but it’s better than having to throw a whole batch of candy in the trash.
When it comes to sugar in candy-making pure cane sugar is preferable. Pure cane sugar melts better and combines well with the other ingredients. Sometimes when using beet sugar you will end up with a gritty texture. Don’t, however, use extra fine sugar. It measures slightly differently than granulated sugar. And no matter what do not use artificial sweeteners unless the recipe calls for it.
When cooking candy on the stove-top be sure to use a good heavy aluminum pan. Don’t try to use a nonstick pan. The candy cooks to very high temperatures and can damage the surface of your nonstick pans. Also a heavy aluminum pan with distribute the heat more evenly and your candy is less likely to become scorched. Also, make sure you use a good size pan, to prevent boil over.
Butter and margarine are both acceptable to use when making candy, unless the flavor of the candy requires a buttery flavor, such as toffee. Margarine can be used when you are trying to bring out another flavor such as chocolate or peanut butter.
Suppose you have a problem with sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan? Here’s what you can do. Cover the pan when you start the cooking process, the lid holds in the steam and washes the sugar crystals down the side of the pan.
Now lets say you accidentally over-cook the candy. It can be saved as long as it isn’t scorched. Leave the candy on the stove-top and carefully add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid, water, milk, whatever liquid was used in the original recipe. The temperature of the candy should drop and you can continue cooking it until it reaches the correct temperature.
When using chocolate to dip your candies, you need to melt it slowly. You can use the microwave, just make sure you stir it every 30 seconds to keep it from burning. If the chocolate seems too thick you can add one or two tablespoons of oil to it to thin it out. If you have a double boiler, you can use this. When using a double boiler, heat the water to boiling in the lower pan, remove from the heat, place the top pan from the double boiler on top and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate until it melts. The benefit to using the double boiler is that the temperature of the chocolate does not drop as quickly. Whatever you do, do not let any water get into your chocolate. This will cause the chocolate to seize up and will ruin it.
If you are uncomfortable using baking chocolate for dipping, please feel free to use the chocolate or white bark coatings available at the grocery store. There are also colored candy melts you can get in the craft section of your favorite department store.
Candy-making does not have to be intimidating. There are many recipes that you can try that don’t require a candy thermometer. Start out with something easy and work your way up. Check out some of the recipe web sites on the internet and type in easy candy recipes in the search bar. You will be sure to find some recipes that suit your skill level. It can be a very fun and rewarding hobby.
1. Candy making
2. Candy Making Basics (A Beginners Guide)