Candy Making Tips   



When you are going to make candy, pick a day when the humidity is low, some candies just won't work if the humidity is too high.

There are basically two methods to determine when candy has been cooked to the proper consistency. One way is to use a candy thermometer, but that takes most of the adventure out of it; accuracy is boring, and all that. Fudge and fondant usually need to be at 234-238 degrees; divinity and caramels come in around 245-248; taffy, 265-270; butterscotch, 275-280; peanut brittle, 285-290; carmelized sugar, 310.

The other way is to test the sugar/syrup base in cold water and see what happens. For each test, you need a cup of cold, fresh water and a pot of hot candy. If your recipe calls for the "soft ball" stage, check it early and often after the mix starts to boil. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of hot, cooking candy in the water and roll it with your fingers into a ball. Then read your test with the following guidelines:

Soft Ball (234-238F.). Candy will roll into a soft ball that quickly loses its shape when removed from the water.

Firm Ball (245-248F.). Candy will roll into a firm, but not hard, ball and will flatten out a few minutes after being removed from the water.

Hard Ball (265-270F.). Candy will roll into a hard ball that has lost almost all of its softness and will roll around on a plate.

Light Crack Test (275-280F.). Candy will form brittle threads that soften upon removal from the water.

Hard Crack Test (285-300F.). Candy will form brittle threads in water that remain brittle when pulled from the cup.

Carmelizing (310-321F.). Sugar melts, then becomes golden brown. It will form a hard brittle ball in cold water.