Candy making needn’t be a difficult and messy activity. Some people feel put off by stories of candy making being a precise art form that must be learned from the masters of confectionery and expert chocolate makers – legendary cook books with hidden secrets that have been passed down for generations and are only known by a few, etc. All nonsense!
The only ‘secrets’ about successful candy making is to be sufficiently prepared in advance. It is a good idea to have quality cookware and ingredients before beginning. A good, medium to large sized sturdy saucepan, wooden spoon and cooking or candy thermometer are the three basic pieces of equipment you’ll need – nothing difficult about that! Some people may be tempted to use any old metal stirring spoon that is in the kitchen draw but a wooden stirrer is preferable as it will prevent over-heating and will be less likely to become stuck with candy syrup or scratch your cookware. Be aware that the weather may play a factor in the successful outcome of your candy making. Choose a dry, cool day if you can; if damp conditions are present increase the temperature of cooking by 2 degrees.
Make sure you choose tried and true recipes to guide you. A good quality cook book written by a reputable author should be your first port of call. Borrow one from the library or purchase from a trusted book shop. You will need to take time to familiarise yourself with the recipe that you choose before you begin any cooking and heating. So much about successful candy making is all about timing and accurate measuring of ingredients.
The main cooking ingredients of candy are sugar, butter (not a substitute!) and chocolate. To produce the best quality and finest tasting candy make sure you purchase the best quality ingredients that you can. Have accurately measured portions of all ingredients that you’ll be using laid out in advance, stored in practical, easy to reach containers. Make sure your cooking utensils are clean and lined up within easy reach. Don’t leave things to the last minute or go hunting for missing cooking items while making candy or you may spoil the recipe through burning or scalding.
Perhaps the most important tip to making the best candy is to be keenly aware of the cooking temperature of your liquids and syrups. Make sure that the thermometer is clipped to the inside of the cooking pan if possible and ensure that the thermometer’s bulb is covered by the heating candy to gauge accurate temperatures.
When cooling your candy do so in a cool, dry place and not in the fridge. Wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap or waxed paper and keep in air-tight containers with lids to keep as fresh as possible. Finally, make sure that you cooking equipment and utensils are sufficiently cool to touch before washing up begins.
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