Episode 58 Candy Making
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Candy making can be as simple as melting chocolate and dipping things, or it can be as complicated as making caramels from scratch. In this episode Marie covers basic candy making techniques and a few ways to trouble shoot when things go south.
The simplest form of candy making is to melt chocolate or candy melts and dip things like pretzels, nuts, or dried fruits.
Chocolate is made from both parts of the cocoa bean, cocoa butter and cocoa nibs. Cocoa butter gives the chocolate a smooth mouth feel and cocoa nibs give it the taste and smell.
White “chocolate” is technically not chocolate because it does not have any cocoa nibs. In its purest form, white “chocolate” is cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and vanilla. Most products we consider white chocolate are really candy melt. Candy melt is a mixture of sugar, palm oil, milk solids and lecithin. It works great for melting and dipping and you can find it at the craft store in lots of colors. It is tricky to color yourself because you need an oil-based, not a water-based food color. Most food colorings on the market are water-based so it is best to buy them pre-colored.
To melt chocolate for dipping you have two options.
1-Use the microwave. When using the microwave, be careful not to burn your chocolate or candy melts. Start with just one minute and stir. Continue heating for 15-20 seconds at a time stirring every 15-20 seconds. The residual heat will continue to melt the chocolate. When you have just a few small unmelted bits, you can just continue stirring and let the residual heat finish the melting.
2- Use a double broiler. A double broiler is a saucepan of water that is simmering with a glass or metal bowl placed on top of the saucepan. It is important that the water is not touching the bowl with the chocolate. The steam from the simmering water will heat the bowl which will then gently melt the chocolate. Be careful not to get any water in the chocolate. The water will cause the chocolate to “seize” and get almost crumbly and you cannot use it for dipping.
To make more complicated candy, you will be using some type of sugar syrup. It is important to use a Candy Thermometer (not affiliate). The candy thermometer will get you close to the correct consistency, but to have better results, you want to pair it with the cold water test.
The following are all in Fahrenheit:
240 – Soft Ball – The sugar syrup forms a ball that flattens in the water.
255-260 – Hard Ball – The sugar syrup forms a ball that holds its shape and almost has a firm “shell” on the outside, but it is still malleable.
285 – Soft Crack – The sugar syrup will make a crackle sound and have threads that will break apart but do not have a firm snap. Jolly Rancher candy is a soft crack candy, while a peppermint or candy cane are hard crack.
310 – Hard Crack – The sugar syrup will crackle and will break with a firm snap.
To make fudge, peanut brittle, toffee, marshmallows, divinity, or caramels, you will be cooking sugar with a liquid, like corn syrup, water, evaporated milk, butter and/or cream. Each type of candy uses different ingredients at different temperatures.
Fudge- There are two types of fudge. The first is “Old Fashioned” fudge which uses a sugar syrup and cocoa powder. It does not have any chocolate or marshmallow crème. The second is a more common type of fudge that uses chocolate and marshmallow crème.
Toffee- is made by quickly cooking a sugar syrup with butter then pouring into a pan and topping with chocolate and nuts.
Marshmallow – is made by whipping sugar syrup with gelatin to make a fluffy and stable confection that can be poured into molds or cut into squares.
Divinity – is made by adding sugar syrup to beaten egg whites.
Caramels – are, in my opinion, the most difficult candy to master. Cream, butter, and sugar are cooked slowly to a consistency between soft ball and hard ball.