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Making Your Own Sweet Treats

Aug 18, 2007
Candy making can be fun, especially once the art of boiling the sugar has been mastered. The syrup made by boiling sugar and water is the basis of most candies, and on the quality of this syrup depends the quality of the candy.

For a certain kind of candy the sugar is boiled to a certain degree. For another kind of candy the sugar is boiled to a greater or lesser degree, as the case may be; hence, it is of prime importance that the art of boiling sugar be thoroughly understood by the amateur; otherwise, he is apt to be surprised when he strives for a certain result and does not get it.

There are seven degrees, some of which are subdivided. We give them below in their regular order, together with the various methods of testing.

Sugar is usually mixed with water in the proportions of a pound and a half of sugar to a half a pint of water. Now, suppose we put over a fire this amount of sugar and water, and stir it until the sugar dissolves, and then let it boil for a few minutes. It will commence to look smooth and slippery and is already approaching the first degree.

THREAD DEGREE

When the sugar is dissolved, and has boiled for a few minutes, and commences to look smooth and slippery, dip in a stick, moisten the thumb, and touch the syrup adhering to the stick; then touch the forefinger to the thumb, draw them apart, and if a fine thread spins out the syrup has reached the small thread degree. Boil it a little longer, use the thumb and forefinger as before, and a little heavier and longer thread will be the result. This is called the large thread.

PEARL DEGREE

This is a continuation of the "thread" degree. The syrup commences to show bubbles and has an oily consistency. If tested in the same way as for the first degree, a large thread may be drawn out without breaking as far as the fingers can stretch.

BLOW DEGREE

Use a skimmer, dip it into the syrup, empty it, and blow through the holes. If the blow has been reached, small bubbles will appear on the other side of the skimmer.

FEATHER DEGREE
This degree is a continuation of the "blow" and as soon as you finish that test, dip in the skimmer again, draw it out, give it a sudden jerk and the remaining syrup will fly off in strings or feathers. This is the stage at which the syrup has a tendency to grain, because of the evaporation of the water, and care must be taken not to disturb it by jarring the kettle.

BALL DEGREE

Put the forefinger in ice water until it gets cold, quickly take it out, plunge it into the syrup, and plunge it back into the ice water. There is no danger of burning the finger by this test if the operation is done quickly. Roll the adhering syrup between the thumb and finger; if it forms a soft ball it has reached the soft ball degree; if it forms a hard ball, which sticks the teeth together on being bitten, it has reached the hard ball.

CRACK DEGREE

This quickly follows the "ball". Test in the same way, and bite; if it does not adhere to the teeth and breaks with a slight noise, the soft crack has been reached. Test again at once; if a clean, brittle candy is formed, which breaks sharply, the hard crack-has been reached.

CARAMEL DEGREE

This degree is noticed at once, because the syrup loses its clearness and assumes a straw color. As soon as the change commences to take place remove it from the fire, and set the bottom of the kettle in cold water in order to prevent it from burning. There is no time in which to test this degree, because as soon as it changes to a straw color it will speedily turn to a dark brown color, and burn.

Once the above techniques are learned thoroughly, any manner of delicious candy can be made and enjoyed. Good luck!
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