Long before prepackaged sweets lined every checkout counter, home cooks concocted super-rich fudge, nut-studded brittle and chewy caramel right in their own kitchens. Today, candy thermometers let you avoid much of the guesswork that once made novice candy makers uncertain of success. If you’ve never tasted homemade confections rich with fresh butter, cream and other indulgences, you’re in for a real treat.
Candy making depends in large part on the sugar reaching a precise temperature that determines the final texture. To make sure the operation goes like clockwork, follow these hints.
*Before you begin, assemble and accurately measure all ingredients. Set out and prepare the pan or paper needed for the finished candy.
*Use a heavy saucepan to prevent scorching. Make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the bubbling up that occurs during candy making.
*If you want twice as much candy, prepare the recipe twice. Making a double batch can throw off the timing and the results.
*Verify the temperature of the sugar syrup mixture with a candy thermometer.
*Stir as directed to prevent sugar crystals from forming and giving the candy a grainy texture. Do not scrape the undissolved crystals into the pan or the candy will become grainy.
Caution: Sugar syrup gets very hot, much hotter than boiling water, and can cause serious burns. Use a large pot to prevent boil-overs and be aware that the mixture will foam up when baking soda is added.
*Unless otherwise directed, heat sugar over moderate heat so it doesn’t come to a boil too rapidly.
*In humid weather or on rainy days, cook candy to a temperature 1 or 2 degrees higher than specified in the recipe.
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