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Cheat Sheet

Candy Making For Dummies

From Candy Making For Dummies by David Jones

You need some special utensils and skills for candy making, as well as some special (and yummy) ingredients. After you learn how to temper chocolate (people eating chocolate are generally in a good temper, but that’s not the same thing), you can take off and start giving your candy as gifts — and you probably have some friends who’d be happy to help eat your mistakes, too!

Essential Utensils for Candy Making

As a candy-maker, you need specific tools and utensils. Some, like measuring cups and spoons, you probably already have and use; others, like a candy thermometer and a marble slab, don’t see much service unless you’re making candy. Keep the following tools on hand for your candy-making efforts:

Baking pans Measuring spoons and measuring cups
Candy and chocolate thermometers Microwaveable bowls
Dipping utensils Plastic storage containers of a variety of sizes
Double boiler Saucepans (including 2-quart, 4-quart, and 5-quart)
4- to 5-quart mixer Small marble slab
Kitchen scale Spatulas (hard rubber and offset/stainless steel)
Large knives Wax paper
Large wooden or stainless steel spoons

Essential Candy-Making Ingredients

Before you start getting ready to make candy, you need to check your cupboards for some essential ingredients. If you’re going to make candy regularly, put the basic ingredients from the following list on your candy-making shopping list so that you have everything you need when you’re in the candy-making mood:

  • Sugars: granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, and confectioners’ sugar

  • Sweeteners: corn syrup and honey

  • Dairy products: unsalted butter, heavy cream, whipping cream, half and half, and whole milk

  • Nuts: pecan halves, whole and sliced almonds, English walnuts, raw and roasted Spanish peanuts, cashews, and macadamias

  • Chocolates: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa

If you have the storage space, you can keep a few specialty items around as well: invertase, powdered egg whites (called “egg albumen”), flavorings, and food colorings.

How to Temper Chocolate for Making Candy

If you’re making candy, chocolate is pretty much a staple ingredient. It’s often the finishing coat for a collection of other sweet treats that you dip into it. The process for getting chocolate to the proper consistency for dipping is called tempering, and the following steps show you how to temper chocolate by hand:

  1. Place a block of chocolate on a cutting board and, using a heavy knife, shave it into small pieces.

    Each piece of chocolate should be the size of a fingernail. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.

  2. Microwave or use a double boiler to melt the chopped chocolate to at least 110 degrees.

    Using a chocolate thermometer, check the temperature of the chocolate; its temperature should never exceed 120 degrees.

  3. Pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a marble slab and work the chocolate back and forth using an offset spatula and a trowel (like a sheetrock tool) until the chocolate reaches 82 degrees on a chocolate thermometer (84 degrees for dark chocolate).

    The chocolate becomes thicker as it cools.

  4. Add the chocolate from the slab into the chocolate in the bowl and stir the two together.

    The chocolate should now be in temper.

How to Make Candy Gifts

When you get really good at candy making, you can give gifts of your special candies. Be assured that everyone on your gift list will eat them right up. The gift ideas in the following list can help you get started creating unique gifts from your kitchen:

  • Make an attractive gift basket using shredded plastic “grass” and a variety of your beautiful homemade candies.

  • Fill a decorative tray with your candies, cover it with cellophane, and decorate it with a ribbon.

  • Fill a mug with candy, cover it with cellophane, and close the cellophane with a ribbon.

  • Create your own Valentine box filled with your own fancy homemade candies, and you have a gift that rivals the fanciest chocolate shops’ productions.

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