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In order to make candy, there are three things that you need to do: select a candy type, identify the ingredients and equipment required, and find a suitable location. The instructions to make handmade candy are not very complicated, but special attention should be paid to the equipment requirements.
To select a candy type, look at a list of options from a candy making recipe book. There are three types of homemade candy: syrup-based candy, filled candy, and chewy. Select a small receipt to start and remember that handmade candy has no preservatives, so it is a good idea to limit the quantities at first.
Syrup-based candy is the easiest to make and filled candy is the hardest. The reason for the increased difficulty is the need to prepare and insert the filling at the right stage of the process. Chewy candy is similar to fudge in texture and equipment requirements.
Look at the recipe book and select a simple recipe. For all hard candies, you will need sugar, cornstarch, food coloring, and water. Some recipes call for corn syrup, which is a type of liquid sugar. All these ingredients can be found in the average grocery store baking aisle.
It is wise to purchase a thick-bottomed saucepan just for candy making. To make candy, you must heat the saucepan to a high heat and maintain that temperature for a sustained period. Many candy recipes call for repeated heating and cooling cycles, which can damage your saucepan.
Review the recipe with care and take a close look at the exhaust system above your stove. Heated sugar molecules rise in the steam when you make candy. As the steam cools, the sugar molecules stick to all available surfaces. This includes walls, floors, and cupboards. There are two ways to resolve this issue: cook the candy mixture outside, or use a powerful exhaust fan.
To make candy, the first step is to mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. If you want colored candy, add food coloring. As the mixture heats, it must be stirred continuously. Continue to add sugar until the solution is saturated and the sugar no longer dissolves. Take care to keep the mixture just below boiling. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Add flavoring, if required.
Remove the pan from the stove and place in the fridge to cool the mixture. It must be room temperature before you take it out the fridge for the next stage. Pour out the candy mixture onto waxed paper into the shapes that you want and allow it to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to stop it sticking to each other and enjoy.
@Grivusangel -- I have that fudge recipe and it's a good one! Of course, I've also been known to buy the fudge kits at the store, too. For $5 or so, really, it's a bargain. Just the chocolate chips will set you back that much.
But even with a fudge kit, I always, always add my own vanilla flavoring. I don't know how it works, but adding a little extra "real" vanilla just seems to make nearly any sweet thing taste better, even something from a box. Something about the vanilla just gives the whole recipe a more homemade taste.
@amypollick - Have you tried the fudge you make with sweetened condensed milk? It doesn't matter what the weather is outside -- that fudge will set every single time. I don't know whether there's a hack like that for divinity candy or not.
I agree with what you said about a wooden spoon being an essential tool. I have to have my wooden spoons and I use them for everything -- not just candy-making. At least wooden spoons aren't expensive! And they're usually pretty durable.
Also a good idea about checking your candy thermometer's accuracy. I never thought of doing that. I guess that's why I like the fudge I mentioned -- you just melt everything together. You don't have to temp it or anything, and it always comes out great.
Candy-making is a fiddly process and sometimes, the weather outside can affect the outcome. For example, if the weather is humid, the candy may or may not set and harden properly. You always have to be careful about cooking temperatures, and make *sure* your candy thermometer is accurate. You can test it by bringing water to a full, rolling boil, and seeing if it reads 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
I've found the weather equation to be especially critical when making fudge or divinity candy. In general, the best weather for these candies is cold, clear, winter weather when the humidity is low.
A club aluminum saucepan is a good choice for a candy pan. These are usually heavy-duty, good quality
pots that will withstand an unbelievable amount of abuse that candy making entails. Also, for me, a wooden spoon is absolutely imperative for making candy. They don't conduct heat and they won't scratch a pan. A silicone spatula is also a helpful tool, since the silicone can withstand the heat with ease.
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