Candy can sometimes be tricky to make because, for many candies, success depends so much on getting the candy mixture to the perfect temperature. For foolproof candy, a candy thermometer is a must.
Choose a candy thermometer that:
If you make a lot of candy and know the temperatures of the cooking stages, you might opt for an infrared thermometer that you simply point at the mixture to get the precise temperature.
A word of warning when you are making any candy: Be extremely careful. The sugar mixture can get as hot as 400 or 500 degrees F. This is not a kitchen activity for young children, but they can help with the eating when it's done.
Makes 12 large candy canes
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Cook until thermometer reads 265 degrees F (hard ball stage). Take pot off of heat and stir in peppermint extract.
3. Separate the mixture in half into two bowls. Stir the red food coloring into one of them. Let the candy cool until cool enough to handle.
4. While candy is cooling, butter a cookie sheet as well as your hands.
5. Cut white and red candy into same-sized pieces. Pull each piece of candy until it looks glossy, then roll it into a thin strip.
6. Twist a red and white piece together and form into a candy cane. Place on cookie sheet and let cool until hard. Continue with remaining candy.
Makes 3 dozen
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon amaretto
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Finely chopped almonds
1. Bring whipping cream to a simmer in a medium pot. When cream is simmering, stir in amaretto.
2. Put chocolate pieces in a bowl and pour in hot cream. Stir until chocolate melts and becomes smooth.
3. Place chocolate mixture in refrigerator for at least two hours or until hardened.
4. When chocolate is hard, roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and arrange on a waxed-paper-covered baking sheet. Let chill again for another two to three hours.
5. Roll truffles in cocoa powder or finely crushed nuts, and chill again until hardened.
Note: You can substitute vanilla, almond, mint, orange or any other flavored extract for the amaretto.
Makes 2 dozen pieces
2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Heat butter, sugar and salt in a medium pot, stirring until butter is melted. Let mixture come to a boil and cook it until it reaches 285 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
2. Pour candy onto a medium baking sheet and spread out. Let candy harden.
3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips using a double boiler until smooth and silky. Spoon chocolate over toffee and spread to cover all of the candy. Sprinkle nuts over chocolate and press down. Let toffee harden for at least six hours, then break into pieces.
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