Have you joined me on my journey and started making confections in your own kitchen yet? If you haven't, then you must head to the store immediately and stock up on the following ingredients...
Sugar - I use this by the pound when I get started on a candy recipe heavy weekend. Luckily, the larger the sack of sugar you buy, the cheaper it is. Splurge on the ten pound bag. Get someone with big muscles to carry that grocery bag to the kitchen.
Corn Syrup - Corn syrup is made of glucose and provides the necessary molecular structure for correct crystal formation in your candy. (I feel like I need to do an entire post on corn syrup, it's so complex!) Corn syrup is special and I've found that it is almost specific to the Americas. I've begun testing my recipes with other liquid sugars, like glucose syrup and invert syrup, that are more globally available.
Candy Thermometer - Available in alcohol and digital, I've had both. My first candies were made with an alcohol thermometer, it's a perfect, inexpensive option for those just starting out their candy journey. Just be sure to get down and read the temperature at eye level. After my alcohol thermometer broke (bubbles may form in the red liquid) I upgraded to a digital model, one with an alarm. Now I never miss when my sugar reaches hard ball stage!
That's it! If you want to start making simple candies, all you need is sugar and corn syrup. If you want to make more specialty candies, invest in some of these items...
Candy oils - These little bottles of oil pack a flavor punch. Just a few drops of this stuff and your candies will taste like bubblegum, egg nog, cheesecake or root beer. The options are endless and the flavors are cheap, buy a couple and begin to experiment.
Chocolate or Chocolate Candy melts - You want to coat your candies in chocolate, you need to go out and get some chocolate! Sometimes block chocolate is elusive at the grocery store. You can generally find it in the bulk food section of the store and it's usually Merckens. Whole Foods also sells blocks of chocolate, mine carries the deliciously smooth Belgian Callebaut. If you want to skip the process of tempering chocolate, you can use candy melts. They are chocolate flavored and lack the snap that real chocolate has.
Powdered Milk - Mixed with water, this powdered stuff reconstitutes to skim milk. Mix it with a sugar syrup and you can make nougat.
Cocoa Powder - Natural. Dutch cocoa powder contains a bit of fat and shouldn't be used when making or coating marshmallows. Cocoa powder will allow you to turn plain nougat into chocolate nougat. Plain marshmallows into chocolate marshmallows. You get the idea.
Gelatin - Choose your favorite type, sheets or powdered. Gelatin is necessary for so many candy treats, marshmallow, sponge candy, certain gummies. Sometimes you can substitute with egg whites. Vegetarians out there, I haven't tested any of my recipes with agar powder. Let me know if you have!
Citric acid, malted milk powder, powdered pectin, invertase, the list could go on and on. Start out with the basics and soon you'll find yourself trolling the specialty food stores and websites for new candy ingredients to experiment with! (My primary sources are the King Arthur Flour.com, Lorann Oils.com and Amazon.)
One Year Ago: Cookie Dough Eggs Rolls (how appropriate!)
Cookie Dough Fudge
Adapted from Sweet Confections
I was blown away by the flavor of this fudge. It was just like eating cookie dough from the bowl. I'm not sure if this is better for you (with its lack of raw eggs) because it's pretty much just sugar and cream. One thing I do know is that this fudge was gone very quickly!
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips
In a 4-quart pot, combine sugars, heavy cream, milk, corn syrup and salt. Insert a candy thermometer and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, to 242 F. Remove from the heat and add butter, vanilla extract and flour. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan and let sit for 20 minutes. (The mixture will harden up and begin to crystallize)
Coat an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray, wipe out excess oil with a napkin. Scrape the now hardened candy syrup into a bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until the fudge comes together into a ball. (yours may just look like cookie dough, mine did) Scrape fudge into the prepared 8x8 pan and press into a flat layer. Add chocolate chips and press into the fudge.
Let sit at room temperature to crystallize, do not put into the fridge as it will disrupt the natural crystallization process. Once the fudge is cooled and the chocolate chips are set, place in the fridge for 1 hour (this will make the fudge easy to cut). Cut into 1-inch pieces and serve to all your friends!