Homemade candy is a wonderful treat any time of the year and it’s especially delightful when you can share it with your friends and family in your shalach manot. Who needs a shalach manot theme when you can just impress everyone with your homemade sweet confections?!?
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional baker or candy maker to create these sweet treats this year. I’ve put together a list of tips that will make the process safe and simple. Once you’ve got your technique down, try out some of my easy-to-follow candy recipes and let me know what you think!
Candy Making Tips:
Get to know your thermometers: If you want to try making your candy without a thermometer, you might want to think again. Sure, many recipes will tell you to look for a certain color or texture but unless you’ve made that candy recipe dozens of times, chances are your candy won’t cook correctly. There are many types of candy thermometers on the market. Clip-on glass, clip-on glass with a rectangular metal casing, and digital instant-read thermometers. Clip-on thermometers are best because you can keep an eye on the temperature as it is rising. With a digital instant-read thermometer, it will give you an accurate temperature as soon as it touches the surface but you will have to guess when it’s time to check and when it comes to candy, temperature is everything.
Cleaning your candy thermometer: if you’re using a glass candy thermometer (my personal favorite), you want to be careful not to crack the glass. After removing it from the boiling sugar, place the thermometer into a cup of warm water to dissolve the sugar crystals stuck to the glass. Place the thermometer upright to dry and store upright in a room-temperature cabinet.
Don’t burn the chocolate: there are two methods for tempering (carefully heating and cooling) chocolate. You can melt chocolate over indirect heat using a double boiler or melt in the microwave. Both methods work well and both are simple to do. For the double boiler method, place a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water but make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir the finely chopped chocolate with a rubber spatula until smooth. To temper the chocolate in the microwave, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Warm the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds then remove the bowl and stir the chocolate. Warm for another 30 seconds then stir again. Warm one last time for 30 seconds in the microwave then stir until the melted chocolate is combined. Don’t warm the chocolate any further or it will be too hot and might burn.
Dipping chocolate: many recipes call for candy (and fruit) dipped in chocolate. You don’t need special tools for this process, just two forks. Place the candy on one fork and dip in the tempered chocolate until it is completely covered. Remove the chocolate with the two forks and let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the candy on parchment paper to harden.
The freezer is your friend: If you are making candy but don’t have the patience to wait for the chocolate or candy center to harden, just place it in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
Follow directions: when a recipe tells you that the candy should be 342 degrees Fahrenheit, it might seem like a strange request but you should listen. There is science involved in candy making so your best bet is to just follow the rules. When a recipe tells you to bring the sugar to a boil slowly, this is also a good time to listen. You will scorch the sugar before it has a chance to cook correctly. Candy recipes are not forgiving to recipe changes. The acidity, texture, moisture and other factors could affect the recipe and when you exchange one ingredient for another, it may not work in the same way.
And the most important tip of all: SUGAR IS HOT! Please don’t forget that when you are stirring, whisking, and pouring the hot cooked sugar.
Now that you have the tips and tricks for making candy at home, check out all these DIY Candy Recipes.