Geekamama

Hot Sugar Action

5 Comments

It’s a new year! Time for the standard resolutions that will be dropped in a couple of months (eat better! exercise more! write in the darn blog more than once a month!). But it’s also a fine time to focus on a new hobby.

Lately I’ve been exploring the world of candymaking–or, as my husband and I joke, gettin’ some hot sugar action. A few months ago I picked up a book on it (Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home), partly because I was interested in learning how to dip things in chocolate, but perhaps more because the cover looked good enough to nibble.

Reading it whetted my appetite for learning more. I’ve got lots of friends who are amazing bakers, but candymaking is an area where I don’t have many people’s brains to pick, so I’ve had to do online research and experimentation. The book’s recipe for saltwater taffy just gave us hard candy; success was found elsewhere. For Christmas I received another book: Candymaking. Both have been helpful in their own way: Candymaking has a lot more variety in each area, but Sweet Confections features a photo of every single recipe, which can be incredibly helpful.

It’s ironic that even though chocolate was my gateway temptation, it’s one area where I’ve done very little further work. For chocolate to stay stable at room temperature and not require refrigeration, it needs to be properly tempered. On top of that, I’ve found there are many different ideas on what’s the best way to dip chocolates, or at least the non-round ones. (For round ones, the consensus appears to be that hand-dipping is best–and yes, that means using your hands to coat the centers with chocolates.)

At any rate, I’m having a lot of fun with it, and will likely be writing more about my candymaking adventures in the future. I’ve got some favorites already, and some drool-worthy ideas of what to try next. I’ve also been compiling a mental list of equipment I’m going to need at some point. To my husband’s chagrin, one of those dream items is a new kitchen. I’ll just have to keep him plied with caramels, and maybe one day he’ll concede.

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Author: Jessica Wallace

I'm a wife, mother, and software engineer living near Seattle, Washington. I like doing competitive puzzle events like the MIT Mystery Hunt and The Game. I've recently started learning a bit about candymaking, much to the delight of my husband, friends, and co-workers.

5 thoughts on “Hot Sugar Action

  1. May I recommend, if you don’t have it or something similar on your want list already:

    http://www.amazon.com/Maverick-CT-03-Digital-Candy-Thermomter/dp/B0000AQL25/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1325707135&sr=8-6

    When I do toffee, I set it for “soft crack”, and it bleeps at me when it hits 270 degrees. Basically this means I don’t have to stand over the pot continuously for that window between “everything is melted” and “start paying attention to when it looks right to turn it out” (which is right around 290 but after all these years I do it based more on sight) and I can worry about other things like chopping nuts or measuring chocolate chips or whatever.

  2. Ah, the classic. 🙂 That’s the one Mom used for years (hell, probably still uses), too. I hate trying to read analog thermometers so I went digital just as soon as I could.

  3. Chris – that’s an awesome thermometer! I added it to my wish list, too 🙂

    Jessica – I’m sure if you keep providing the treats, Jeff will eventually see the light. Especially if a new kitchen means bigger and better treats.

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