Candy: Advice, Tips & More

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  1. Weather Warning: Before making candy, check the weather forecast. Sunny and dry days are great for candy making, but rain and high humidity can cause setting problems.
  2. Thermometer Tactics: For candy making, get a good candy thermometer. You can make candy without one, but it’s harder for beginners in particular. One with a metal clamp that clips on the pan is helpful.
  3. Test Time: Always test that your thermometer is accurate. Place in a boiling pan of water to check the temperature. It should be 212 degrees F. Adjust cooking as necessary.
  4. Measure Before Mixing: Measure out all candy making ingredients beforehand. Getting the temperature to 220 degrees F takes a while, but you want to have everything ready when it hits that point.
  5. Flat-Bottom Pans: When melting sugars, use a heavy-duty saucepan with a flat bottom. This will help prevent scorching.
  6. Low And Slow: Dissolve your sugar into the liquid ingredients over low heat, and then slowly bring to a boil. Once dissolved, don’t stir the sugar mixture unless indicated by the recipe.
  7. Dry It Out: You don’t want moisture in your sugar. One good way to absorb any extra moisture in your sugar container is to dry it for a few hours in a container with a desiccant packet.
  8. Sugar Burns: The temperature of sticky, boiled sugar can exceed 320 degrees F. The human body temperature is about 98.6 degrees F. Ouch!
  9. Attention Please: Candy making deserves your undivided attention. For safety reasons, ban the kids and pets from the room to avoid distractions.
  10. Protect The Fingers: Always use a wooden spoon greased with oil to stir the melting sugar mixture. The oil helps prevent sticking. A metal handle gets too hot and can burn your hands.
  11. Steam Burns Too: When sugar syrups bubble up, they make a lot of very hot steam. Adding creams and other ingredients make it worse. Wear oven mitts that cover hands and forearms, and hold the pan far from your face when pouring.
  12. Super Sugar: When making candy, always use a fresh, unopened package of sugar to ensure purity.
  13. Save The Salt: When making candy, use unsalted butter unless the recipe says otherwise. Unsalted butter is fresher than salted butter and gives better results.
  14. Scorching Is A Sign: If you cannot stir your sugar mixture before it scorches on the bottom, your burner is turned too high. There’s no great fix for this, so toss it out and start fresh at a lower temperature.
  15. Size Matters: Use the specific size pan called for in the recipe. Using a different size can alter the cooking time and impact the results.
  16. Double Is Trouble: Unless you are a candy making pro, don’t try to double a recipe to save time. Making separate batches will ensure the ingredients are correct for the designated cooking time.
  17. Mixing It Up: When you need to melt chocolate with water or other liquid, combine them at the start of the melting process. This will keep the chocolate from turning gritty.
  18. Oven-Melted Chocolate: Put minced chocolate in a metal bowl then place it in the oven. The temperature should be set at 110 degrees or at the lowest temperature setting (with the door slightly open). The chocolate will melt in about 60 minutes.
  19. Take A Dip: Make a dipping chocolate coating for candies and other treats by adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to 6 – 8 ounces of solid chocolate and melting them together.
  20. Super Storage: All kinds of chocolate need proper storage to avoid absorbing other odors. Wrap it tightly and store at around 65 – 68 degrees F and about 50% humidity to keep it good for almost six months. Dark chocolate can last longer.
  21. No Scraping: It’s tempting to scrape every fudgy bit from the sides of your saucepan or bowl, but don’t. It will make the fudge too gritty.
  22. Beat The Blooms: Chocolate can “bloom” when stored at temperatures warmer than 75 degrees F. A white cocoa butter film may develop on the surface. It doesn’t look great, but it’s safe to eat.
  23. Fine Like Wine: Dark chocolate is an amazing confection. It contains healthy antioxidants and gets better as it ages.  Just remember that and you’ll feel less guilty.
  24. Dram I Am: Flavorings in a dram? You need to know that a dram is a measurement equal to 1 teaspoon.
  25. Ignore The Fridge: Cool candy slowly at room temperature. Don’t be tempted to speed it by cooling in the refrigerator.
  26. Get Silly: Sometimes the key to finding a new and delicious candy combination is trial and error. Chocolate with bacon … yum. Candied jalapeños … spicy yum!
  27. Heat It Up: To keep melted chocolate warm longer after melting, place the bowl on an electric heating pad.
  28. Treats For A Year: Make homemade fudge and caramel. These treats can be frozen and enjoyed for up to a year.
  29. Chocolate Creativity: Don’t toss out remaining dipping chocolate! Nuts, pretzels, raisins, marshmallows, cookies, and fruits can all be dipped for a candy-like snack.