Homemade candy has always been a firm favorite and if you have some knowledge of the basics involved in candy making, you will be surprised how easy most types of candy can be made from your home kitchen. The two basic ingredients of all candy are sugar and chocolate and you should know how to boil sugar and how to work with chocolate.
Boiling sugar syrupThe first important point to remember is that boiling sugar is really hot and to avoid injury great care should be taken not to spill or touch the boiling sugar mixture. When working with sugar there are some basics that should be followed to ensure a good end product.
Here are some guidelines:
- Always measure the sugar and water exactly.
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly before boiling. Heat gently - do not allow to boil, until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Gently stir the sugar over low heat until dissolved. Never stir the boiling liquid unless directed by the recipe.
- While the syrup is boiling, the sugar crystals must be removed from the sides of the pan. Use a small brush dipped into water to brush the sides of the sauce pan. Candy that contain cream, butter, syrup or chocolates, will rise when boiling, so make sure that the sauce pan is big enough.
- Whilst heating, stir with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom and corners of the saucepan.
- Brush the sides of the saucepan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in warm water, to prevent a buildup of crystals.
- Ensure that the correct temperature is reached.
- If using a sugar thermometer, dip it in to hot water before tested the sugar, return it to the hot water after testing.
- When the correct heat is reached, remove the saucepan from the heat and place on a damp cloth, to prevent further cooking.
- The taste of candy must be delicate and when adding flavoring, use a medicine dripper.
- The addition of Glucose syrup will ensure a fine texture candy. Crème of tartar and vinegar will give the same result but be careful not to add too much as this will prevent the candy from becoming stiff enough.
- When the syrup has reached the desired temperature, remove the sauce pan from the heat and put into cold water so that the temperature does not rise any further.
Working with chocolate requires a skill to melt the chocolate. You will need some experience to do this, but once acquired, there are many possibilities for working with chocolate.
There are some tricks to successfully melting chocolate. Whether you are working with dark, semisweet, milk, or white chocolate, here are some tips to follow:
- Never allow any water to come in contact with the melting chocolate, unless the chocolate is being melted in a large amount of water (2 tablespoons water per ounce of chocolate is the minimum amount). Just a drop or two of water can make the chocolate seize up, or become hard and lumpy. Even the steam from the bottom of a double boiler can cause this problem. Make sure to keep the chocolate dry as it melts. If it does seize, you can blend in a teaspoon of vegetable oil (NOT butter or margarine) and the chocolate should smooth out.
- Chocolate should only be melted over low heat. The microwave is a good appliance to use because the cooking time is so controlled. If you stand there at the stove and stir constantly, you can melt chocolate in a pan set over very low heat. A double boiler (watch out for condensation) is a good method; make sure the water in the bottom is barely simmering.
- White chocolate or vanilla milk chips are the most difficult to melt. Too much heat will make this type of chocolate seize.
- To melt chocolate bars in a microwave, first coarsely chop the chocolate. Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50% power for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir. Continue this process until the chocolate is almost melted. Then stir until the chocolate is smooth.
- Melt chocolate chips just like chopped bars. To make a dipping chocolate for coating candies, when the chocolate is almost melted add 1/4 cup more chips and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. This will help set up sugar crystals so the chocolate stays firm at room temperature.