Making candy is not rocket science, anyone with the right tools, a recipe and a bit of practice can succeed in this endeavor. Below we will address 3 of the important parts of the candy making process.
The Size Of the Pot Matters
The size of the pot or kettle that you will be using is very, very important. We cannot emphasize enough how the size of the cooking ware will affect the outcome of your first candy recipe. The size of the pot should ideally be 3 to 4 times larger than the actual volume of all the ingredients of the recipe combined. The pot should also have depth and fairly straight (not curved or bell-shaped) sides.
What happens if you use a small pot for cooking a large quantity of candy?
Because of the size of the cooking ware and the heat required to adequately cook the candy, high temperature will be centered on the bottom of the pot and will most likely burn a large quantity of the candy.
But, the situation is different when you use a thick-bottomed pan, because the bottom of the pan has a larger surface area, heat will be well-distributed throughout the batch of candy, including the sides. Though some scorching will occur, the scorching will be minimal.
You might have heard of the age-old practice of greasing the sides of the pot when cooking candy, but is this a good practice?
Yes, this actually is a good practice! But only if ingredients with fat have been added to the candy beforehand. If all goes well, a well-greased pot will prevent accelerated crystallization of the candy on the sides of the pot.
Take It Easy At First
Many candy recipes call for bringing the entire batch of candy “to a boil”. While many will be tempted to simply turn up the kitchen range to high heat, it’s actually important that you don’t do this. And the reason for that is because the temperature will rise too quickly and the bottom part of the batch will burn while the rest of the candy will remain uncooked.
So how can you bring a batch of candy to a boil without scorching the bottom then?
Well, you can set your burner to low or medium heat at the beginning of the cooking process and wait for the solid ingredients to melt. Also, don’t forget to mix the batch regularly with a wooden mixing spoon.
Once the ingredients have sufficiently melted into the batch, you can then turn the burner up to medium-high (still not to high, though!)
When you see small bubbles releasing steam at the surface of the candy, you have achieved boiling point. And the best thing about this is that you were able to do it without burning the melted sugar!
If your first batch of candy got scorched, don’t fret! Simply start over with a fresh batch and try this crucial tip (of bringing sugar to the boiling point safely) again until you succeed.
How To Handle the Dollop
More often than not, you will find that the bottom part of your batch has burned (at least slightly) because of direct contact with the pot or kettle. Do not attempt to save the hardened candy that has stuck to the bottom of the saucepan or pot!
The burnt flavor of this hardened candy will affect the taste of the entire batch, so instead, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the pot. Leave the bottom part for washing later.
Also, as a candy maker, remember that you can exert full control over what is happening to your batch of candy.
At any point during the cooking process, you can cool down the entire batch by submerging the entire cooking ware in ice water. This step is quite useful when the temperature of the candy suddenly exceeds the ideal or target cooking temperature.