It's back! It's back! My desire to bake and blog is back!! I should modify that slightly. Technically, I still have no desire to "bake" anything -- no oven, no stand mixer -- and I don't know why (*whimper*). I do know, however, that I want to learn how to make every single kind of candy that exists. Not sure where this overwhelming need came from, but I'll take it... and so will you. :)
It's not like I've ever had any success with candy. My one previous attempt went terribly wrong when I broke the cardinal (sidenote: Go Cardinals!) rule of candy making -- never make candy on a rainy or humid day. Maybe the recent shift to cool, dry weather set off my internal baking barometer. Also, when's the last time you had homemade hard candy or homemade nouget or homemade gum drops? I was intrigued.
Also, my inner geek loves the precision and science of candy-making. A good candy thermometer is a must because a few degrees can make a huge difference. Plus, it has it's own language -- firm ball, soft ball, hard crack, thread, and so on -- to describe the stages of cooking sugar. These terms aren't used as much now that candy thermometers are reliable and inexpensive, but it's sort of fun to know that you can make taffy at the soft crack stage and toffee at the hard crack stage.
I thought I'd start with a classic candy: Caramel. Not the ooey-gooey liquid kind you drizzle over ice cream, but the chewy, semi-solid pieces of candy that are individually wrapped like little presents. While I was handing out my caramels to anyone who would try one, it was funny to hear how people thought caramel was made. One person said that it had gelatin in it to make it chewy and another person thought it was just melted brown sugar.
Turns out that caramel has five very basic ingredients: heavy cream, butter, sugar, corn syrup and water. You start things off by boiling the cream and butter in pot #1 and setting it aside to slightly cool.
|Aww, reminds me of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1993. Memories.|
This can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the stove, the pan, and the flame. So watch it!
|Note: My pan has like a 1/2 inch flat lip around the edge, I'm not just magically balancing crystal on a rim.|
|Note: I'm pretty sure this was one is actually twisted incorrectly. Doh.|