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General Directions for Candy Making

Oct 9, 2007
Candy tastes good and is good. And it tastes much better and is much better if you make it yourself. Whatever your favorite candy, whether butter crunch or fudge, nougat or molasses taffy, peanut brittle or chocolate mint patties, you can make it better than the best candy you ever bought.

You can even learn to make fancy-dipped chocolates and bonbons that look as tempting as the ones you gazed at longingly as a child with your nose pressed against the confectioner's plate-glass window. And they'll live up to their looks, if you make them yourself.

Below you will find some general instructions for candy making. Familiarize yourself with this information, find the basic equipment and away you go!

Reading a Thermometer

With a candy thermometer you can be sure you have reached exactly the right degree of temperature for the particular candy you are making. But the thermometer must be read correctly, with your eye right on the level of the top of the mercury, not above or below.

Testing Your Thermometer

Test your thermometer by placing it in a pan of water and bringing it to the boiling point. It should now register 212 degrees at sea level. If it registers 214 degrees you can correct it by adding two degrees to those given in the recipe; if 210 degrees, by subtracting. If it is more than a few degrees off in either direction, you need a new thermometer.

Correcting the Thermometer for Altitude

For every thousand feet above sea level subtract roughly two degrees from the suggested thermometer readings. For example, if you are making fondant in the mountains and the altitude is 4000 feet, instead of cooking it up to 238 degrees you would remove it from the heat when the thermometer registers 230 degrees.

Correcting for Humid or Rainy Weather

When the barometric pressure is low or the weather is rainy or humid, cook most candies two degrees higher than you would normally.

Hard Water

If your water is unusually hard it may make the difference between success and failure in your candy-making. Boil one gallon of hard water with a teaspoon of soda for twenty minutes, to neutralize, before using water to make candy.

Storing Candy

All candy should be kept in a cool place and most should be packed in tin boxes for best keeping. Caramels should always be wrapped soon after cutting to prevent spreading.

Changing Recipes

Proportions in most recipes are carefully worked out for best results and usually should not be changed. Increasing the amount of liquid, for instance, will lengthen the cooking time and give a less tender result. Recipes can be doubled successfully in almost every instance but in that case a larger saucepan must be used or the candy will boil over or cook too slowly. Cutting recipes in half is not advisable because very small quantities are difficult to work with.

Equipment for the Candymaker

Candy thermometer
3-quart saucepan
Measuring cups and spoons
4-quart saucepan
1-quart saucepan
Heavy 12-inch skillet
Electric beater
Pans, 8 by 11 inch
7 by 7 inch Cookie sheets
Funnel and stick
Heavy, sharp knife
Waxed paper
Cellophane
Tin boxes for storing
Wooden spoons
Pastry brush or muslin-wrapped fork
Fondant paddle
Marble slab or large platter
Chocolate grater
Standard beaters, wire whisks
Follow the above instructions, and your candy will turn out right every time!
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