- Food and Cooking
I Can Make Candy from Scratch
Yes, You Can Make Candy From Scratch!
Do you ever envy those do-it-yourselfers who seem to make the most tantalizing treats for every occasion? Since I was young, I was in the kitchen at baking time. I love cookie baking especially, but I never managed to get the art of candy making down. While I'm still not great at it, I'm learning. My daughters, though, are really getting the hang of it! Since January is National Candy Month, what better time to look at the art of candy making for a little encouragement and inspiration?
I have a relaxed learning approach to teaching my daughters to cook. I include them in the process when they express interest, and as they gain interest, I let them try their own idea out. My oldest is a bread baker. She started with the bread machine we had several years ago, and when it got ruined, she decided to delve into handmade bread. She's made flatbreads, sweet rolls and a variety of other recipes. My next oldest has explored everything from Paella to tortillas. The next in age is learning to make bread now and also is handling some basic techniques for pancakes, French fries and other snacks.
My grandmother recently passed away, and one of the interesting snippets of memories in the month before her death, shared by my Mom, was the fact that after Thanksgiving, Grandma always started in on homemade candy making, creating wonderful toffees, fudge, divinity and more. She would make batch upon batch, putting them out as she created. My mother said they were wonderful, and remembered fondly being able to help herself to the homemade treats. You can create a memory, or you can even create a heritage of creative culinary endeavors. You can just have a little fun and unwind by exploring candy arts in your kitchen!
Digital Thermometer: If you want to make candy from scratch, temperatures are important!
Candy making usually attracts all of our attention in December for the holidays. As a child, I watched my Mom make wonderful fudge, and I never quite got the hard ball/soft ball/threads thing down. Let's understand that heating sugar causes a variety of physical changes as various temperatures are reached. The product that you end up with is going to depend on the heat and the handling of the sugar. A thermometer seemed like cheating to me when my Mom didn't require one to make creamy delicious fudge. I changed my perspective after a number of failed fudge-making attempts, and invested in the thermometer shown here.
This is a worthwhile tool if you are teaching or helping your kids to learn about candy making. It's important to help young people realize that hot sugar is painful if it comes into contact with your skin. It's a great help to have accurate readings. I use a similar thermometer for meat temperature taking. It works beautifully!
Best Recipes for Learning to Make Candy
Honestly, there are a bazillion candy recipes out there. Nearly all of my instruction in cooking has been thanks to two important references. Joy of Cooking is great for various types of cooking. My Fanny Farmer Baking Book is my go-to resource for baked products. The girls get into the cookbooks for ideas, and my oldest daughter uses the basic bread recipe from one of these for a lot of her work. Similarly, there is an excellent candy section, providing options for toffees, fudge, penuche, divinity and more.
Easy Melt and Pour Candies to Make
Melt and Pour Candy Making
Melt and pour is an easy technique, and you can get away with microwave heating of candy melts, chocolate chips or almond bark. Generally, microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until the candy melts and is able to stir. Too long, and it will crystallize and be useless.
There are lots of options for melt and pour candies, and this is a good start for kids or for an unsure adult. Melted almond bark provides the glue for various ingredients.
- 4 Cups Apple Jack cereal
- 2 Cups crisped rice cereal
- 2 Cups mini marshmallows
- 2 Cups cashew chunks
- Melt almond bark in 30 second increments in the microwave, stopping to stir in between.
- Once almond bark is completely melted, stir in all dry ingredients, thoroughly combining and coating.
- Drop by tablespoon onto waxed paper and allow an hour for almond bark to solidify.
- Store in an airtight container.
Candy Melts: Young Candy Makers Can Learn without the risk of a Burn!
Working with candy melts and molds is a great way to introduce kids under 10 years of age to safe candy making. Adult supervision is still needed for heating and handling bowls, but filling decorating bags with melted candy will allow enough cooling for younger children to be able to comfortably squeeze candy into molds.
There are tons of colors and molds available for making your own melted chocolate projects. Your youngsters can also do some free form creating. My oldest daughter decorated her birthday cake with white and dark chocolate forms that she piped onto waxed paper that was placed over pencil sketches. You can get really elaborate.
Melt and pour candy making can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Why not get a few colors of melts to try out your artistic intuition!
Find Current Candy Melting Materials for your Candy Making Project
Options are always changing, but here, you'll find some current selections, colors and add-ins for your own candy making adventure!
Stove Top Candy Making - You can make real candy from scratch!
My husband buys toffee from a coworker each year, but my daughter was inspired to try it herself this holiday season. She ended up with dramatically different results each time. The first effort was good, but there was a hint of bitterness she didn't like in it. The texture, though, was perfect. Simply following directions and measuring the candy temperature at each point was sufficient.
The next recipe she tried was from my Joy of Cooking book. This recipe used cream whereas the first didn't. It was delicious, but not as hard and firm as the previous effort. She wasn't sure if she actually hit the right temperature. I loved this version for flavor, and I liked the slightly soft texture. It may have been an issue of stirring at an inopportune time. Your candymaking directions are important because movement can cause the sugar crystals to change and solidify before you are ready.
The third recipe was from Epicurious and it had perfect texture and flavor. She has yet to email me the recipe!
My point is that your candy making journey will no doubt involve experimentation. Pay special attention to stirring instructions and temperatures. Beyond that, you must learn by doing!
Butter Toffee Recipe and Demonstration
Making Candies: Marshmallows from Scratch
I have a friend who makes and sells artisan mallows online. My daughter just tried an Epicurious recipe for mallows, and they were on par with those we have bought from my friend's shop! Yum!
Handmade mallows are soft and fluffy. They were amazingly easy! If you need something fun to try, this is worthwhile!
Making Marshmallows from Scratch!
Get Your Kitchenaid Ready for Making Your Own Candies!
Whether you are making your marshmallows, royal icing dried candies, or fillings for truffles and dipped ball candies, your stand mixer can be a handy tool!
All images are used in compliance with creative commons licensing, with the exception of the first image, which is my own.
Peppermint Bark: George (Patti) Larcher at Flikr
Apple Jacks: Mom the Barbarian at Flikr
Toffee: Andrea_44 at Flikr
Marshmallows: Bochalla at Flikr
I've got lots of great ideas brewing, and this lens is just the tip of the iceberg for me! Happy candy making!