Learning from the master – Part 2
In the category of teaching an old dog new tricks, here are two things I’ve learned about candy making from Sue, a member of my book club who is the undisputed queen of candy making. These tips have made all the difference.
Temperature matters. Terms like hard ball and soft ball and hard crackdot candy recipes like peanuts in peanut brittle. And they don’t mean baseball or the latest drug deal. My grandmother and mother could determine each of those critical candy-making stages by dropping a few drops of cooking syrup in a glass of cold water. Me? Stickler for detail that I am, I need a good candy thermometer.
Tip: Check the reliability of your thermometer each year in boiling water. If it doesn’t read exactly 212 degrees at a full boil, adjust the temps accordingly in your recipes.
Humidity matters. In the past, I found that candies like peanut brittle and toffee and butter crunch occasionally adhered into a sticky glob when I stored them. Eating such candy was a hazard to anyone who had crowns. The problem? High humidity.
Tip: Make crunchy types of candies on days with low humidity and sunshine. This is also true if you make divinity. My grandmother whipped divinity by hand – but only on dry, sunny days.
Sue’s Almond Butter Crunch
1 lb butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 T light corn syrup
- Melt butter over low heat in a heavy sauce pan.
- Add sugar and stir almost constantly until it comes to a full rolling boil.
- VERY carefully add the water. (You are adding water to boiling fat)
- Then add corn syrup
Cook – stirring occasionally until temperature reaches 290 degrees
- Take off heat and add 1-2 cups chopped almonds
Pour into 10 1/2 x 16 inch, well buttered sheet pan.
Let sit 3-4 minutes then sprinkle 12 oz chocolate chips over the top. As they melt, spread them evenly across candy. Sprinkle 1/2 cup finely ground almonds across chocolate.
Once candy is cool, break into pieces and store in tins in a cool place. I’ve found that scoring the candy with a sharp knife while it’s still a little warm helps with breaking it into pieces.