Monday, January 7, 2013

Candy Making 101

 For November's cooking group we learned all about candy making from our resident candy expert, Rebecca!  I may or may not have eaten my weight in candy that was all soooo good!  I have divinity since and it turned out perfectly--thanks to Rebecca, I had never had a successful batch before :)  She even adds pistachios and crystallized ginger to her divinity, which I think is pretty amazing...

Click on the titles for the recipes--it should bring up a google doc, let me know if you have any trouble!

**before making any of these candies, it's always a good idea to test your candy thermometer to make sure it's accurate--Boiling water should be at 204 degrees F

pouring hot syrup down the side of the bowl when making marshmallows

Some tips on boiling sugar:
        Rebecca says that the higher the temperature is that you cook sugar, the more water is evaporated.  less water = a harder product. 
        An accurate thermometer is very important!
        Sugar wants to recrystallize--so you need to take precautions.  Using corn syrup will help prevent recrystallization.  Also, you want the sugar to fully dissolve before it comes to a boil.  One undissolved crystal can cause the whole pot to recrystallize.
        For Marshmallows, pour the hot syrup down the SIDE of the bowl so it doesn't splatter while you're mixing it.
        Beat marshmallows until lines slowly relax and then slightly stay after you've beaten it.
        Let marshmallows cool COMPLETELY before cutting.

after pouring in red food coloring and peppermint extract

beating the egg whites
spooning the divinity

Some tips on cooking Divinity:
        If you cook the sugar too hot, the candy will be grainy and hard.  Beat it too little and it will fall flat.
        It helps to not engage the whisk attachment on your mixer.  That way you can raise the bowl and it will hold the whisk in place but then you don't have to twist it off in the end--just speeds up the scooping process at the end.
        Soak a pastry brush in water to rinse down crystals--only need to do this once, when it's really boiling. 
        You don't need to stir, but watch temperature to know when to start whipping the egg whites.  If you whip the egg whites too soon, they'll fall flat before you  need them.  Whip them when the sugar is at 110 degrees C or 230 degrees F (and remember that cold egg whites take longer to whip than ones at room temp.)
        Divinity mixtures should cool off in mixer, being beat continually.  Should lose sheen.  Using two spoons pushing mixture together, it should look more dull.  Then you are ready to add in nuts, vanilla, fruit, etc.  and spoon it out onto a pan.
I dare you not to lick the spoon!!

Seriously, the best divinity I have EVER had!

A few tips on English Toffee:
        You don't need to stir the pot very often.
        Can scrape the pot at the end.
        Should be the color of peanut butter
        You can spread it out with an offset spatula

A few tips on Brittle:
        Salt makes the brittle bubble up a little, giving it an air-ier texture than toffee. 
        Rebecca reccommends using table salt at the beginning of the recipe, and adding kosher salt at the end.
        This recipe has so much corn syrup in it that it never crystallizes, so you never need to wash down the sides.
        When it reaches an amber color, add the cocoa nibs and stir while hot to soften nibs (they 'shouldn't' melt)

stretching the brittle

And I guess I don't have any extra tips on making pralines.  This could be because I was far too busy eating to actually write anything down...or maybe the recipe is self-explanatory enough :)

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