The holiday season when we make candy for our friends and family is quickly coming upon us and I have acquired alot of candy making tips that could help everyone this holiday.
Most of these tips were found on various internet sites like WWW.tipnut.com , www.betterhomesand garden.com , www.tasteofhome.com
and various instructions that I have used through out the years of my candy making..
1So you’ve decided to start making candy at home—great! Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or an experienced cook looking to try your hand at candy, these tips and instructions will provide some of the information you need to get started.
2Common Candy Ingredients**
There are two main factors that affect the taste of your candy: the ingredients you use and the procedure you follow. By educating yourself about common candy ingredients such as chocolate and sugar, and by selecting the best ingredients you can find, you will go a long way toward ensuring successful, delicious candy.
3Working With Sugar**
There is nothing terribly mysterious or complicated about making candy, but if you are new to the world of confectionery, you might find some of the recipe instructions confusing. Candies that are based on a sugar syrup—sugar and water boiled together—often give instructions to boil the syrup to a specific temperature. To make these recipes, you will either need a candy thermometer, or will need to be familiar with the “cold-water method” of temperature checking. Some traditional recipes call for the candy to be “pulled,” as in taffy or ribbon candy. Pulling candy takes a little practice.
4Working With Chocolate**
After sugar, chocolate is probably the most common candy ingredient, so it is important to know how to successfully work with chocolate.
5Equipment for Making Candy**
In general, candy making does not require much in the way of specialized equipment. Many candies can be made using basic kitchen tools that most people already possess. But there are a few tools that reappear in recipes over and over again, like a candy thermometer, and if you anticipate making candy on a regular basis, it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the most commonly used candy and chocolate equipment.
6It's actually quite easy to make candy from scratch if you keep in mind these pointers.
Make sure that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
7Measure and assemble all ingredients for a recipe before beginning. Do not substitute or alter the basic ingredients.
8Use heavy-gauge saucepans that are deep enough to allow candy mixtures to boil freely without boiling over.
9For safe stirring when preparing recipes with hot boiling sugar, use wooden spoons with long handles.
10Humid weather affects results when making candy that is cooked to a specific temperature or that contains egg whites. For best results, make candy on days when the humidity is less than 60%. Humidity affects the preparation of divinity and nougat to such an extent that you should plan to make these two candies on a relatively dry day. If the day is humid, no amount of beating will make these two candies set up.
11Store homemade candies in tightly covered containers unless otherwise directed. Don't store more than one kind of candy in a single container. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, most homemade candy will keep for about 2 to 3 weeks. Fudge and caramels can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 year. Always store different types of candy in separate containers, using waxed paper between layers. This will keep candies from exchanging flavors. If hard candy and soft candy are not stored separately, the moisture from the soft candy will cause the hard candy to become sticky.
12Before you begin
Although it's important to read and thoroughly understand any recipe before you begin, with candy recipes, it is essential.****** Start by reading the recipe through and noting (1) what equipment is needed, (2) how much attention is required, (3) how long it will take to cook, and (4) if any cooling, beating, and/or drying time is required. Be sure to use the proper equipment and allow plenty of time to prepare the recipe successfully. Don't be fooled into thinking that a short recipe is necessarily going to take little effort or be fast to prepare.
13assemble all of the equipment you'll need and measure all of the ingredients. For example, have the walnuts chopped before the fudge recipe says to beat them in. The time it takes to chop the nuts is too long for the fudge to sit idle.
14Measure accurately, and don't make substitutions for basic ingredients. Never alter quantities in candy recipes. Do not halve or double recipes; the proportions have been worked out for the recipes as they are printed. The only safe way to double your yield for a specific recipe is to make two separate batches.
15It's recommend when cooking most candy mixtures is to butter the sides of the saucepan. This helps prevent the mixture from climbing the sides of the pan and boiling over. the next step is to combine the sugar with the other ingredients and bring the mixture to boiling. It's very important to dissolve the sugar entirely during this step. As you cook the mixture to dissolve the sugar, stir it constantly, but gently, so it doesn't splash on the side of the saucepan. This precaution helps prevent sugar crystals from forming and clumping together in the saucepan.
16If some of the candy mixture splashes on the side of the saucepan, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 45 seconds. As the steam condenses, it will dissolve any crystals that may have formed. Watch carefully, though, so that the candy mixture doesn't boil over. (Candy mixtures using milk products or molasses should not be covered; they foam if steam cannot escape, and may boil over.)
17After the sugar is dissolved, carefully clip the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. (Always check the thermometer's accuracy before you begin.) For an accurate reading, be sure that the bulb of the candy thermometer is completely covered with boiling liquid, not just with foam, and that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Always read the thermometer at eye level.
18When cooking candy mixtures, it is extremely important to keep the mixture boiling at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. Many recipes suggest rangetop temperatures for cooking the candy mixtures. If you use this information as a guide, you'll be able to maintain the best rate of cooking for optimum results. Because every rangetop heats differently, however, you also will have to rely on knowledge of your rangetop to judge whether you'll need to use a slightly higher or lower temperature to cook the candy mixture within the recommended time.
19Use a heavy saucepan that has high sides and the inside is smooth.
20Stir: Always stir until the sugar is dissolved. One sugar crystal can cause the whole mixture to be grainy.
21Beating: Beating is made easier by first cooling cooked mixture without stirring to lukewarm (110°F.). Use a buttered pan or platter. Always have pan ready before making candy.
22Testing Candy: It’s best to use a candy thermometer, but if you don’t have one you can do the cold water test.
23Don´t get burned! To avoid getting burned while making candy, attach your candy thermometer to a wire whisk and lay the whisk across the top of your cooking pan.
24For a candy making surface that can take the heat, use a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread candies such as peanut brittle, fudge, or almond bark in a thin layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Cool the candy at room temperature or in the refrigerator and then gently remove from the foil.
25Thermometer Test: Clip the candy thermometer to the pan after syrup boils. The bulb of the thermometer must be covered with boiling liquid.
26Uncooked candies can be as rich and creamy as cooked candies. Truffles and nut clusters are examples of uncooked candies. The ingredients are mixed, then either shaped into balls, coated or pressed into pans or molds. Ingredients typically used for uncooked candies are fruits, nuts, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, powdered sugar, marshmallows and extracts. Some uncooked candies are mixed and topped or coated with melted chocolate. While a heat source is needed to melt the chocolate, these candies are still considered uncooked.
27Most of the classic candies, such as fudges, fondants, caramels, toffees and brittles, are cooked candies. Cooked candies are formed from a boiling syrup made from sugar, a liquid, and a variety of ingredients for flavor. They are prepared the conventional way on the range top in a heavy saucepan and cooked to the proper temperature. Care should be taken when boiling syrup because the hot syrup can cause serious burns if spilled or spattered.
28Butter, not margarine, should be used in most candy recipes to ensure the best texture and results. Butter also contributes flavor to candies. Today many margarines have added water to decrease the amount of fat they contain. Margarine-type products marked as "spreads" or those that come in tubs should not be used because their water content will cause melted chocolate to become stiff and grainy. Also, the added water will change cooking times for cooked candies. If you must use margarine, use only stick products labeled as margarine.
29There are two main factors that affect the taste of your candy: the ingredients you use and the procedure you follow. By educating yourself about common candy ingredients such as chocolate and sugar, and by selecting the best ingredients you can find, you will go a long way toward ensuring successful, delicious candy.
30Just as you should always read the recipe thoroughly before attempting to make any candy, you should familiarize yourself with unknown terms, ingredients, and procedures you may find in new recipes.
31Most of the tools needed to make candy can be found in a well-stocked kitchen:
A medium-sized saucepan with a heavy bottom and straight sides. It should be large enough to hold 3 to 4 times the volume of the ingredients; this will help prevent boil-overs
A bowl, large enough to hold the saucepan, lets you cool the candy while it's still in the pan. The temperature of the sugar mixture continues to rise even after it has been removed from the heat. Immersing the pan in cold water or an ice water bath stops the cooking at just the right time
A long-handled wooden spoon
A pastry brush reserved exclusively for candy-making. Some recipes will call for brushing down the sides of the pan with water to prevent crystallization
A good candy thermometer. Although it is possible to make candy without one, a glass candy thermometer is a must-have for beginners, and a useful tool for professionals. Choose one with a metal clamp that attaches to the side of the pan
If you make candy on a more regular basis, you may want to invest in a marble slab and a copper caramel pan.