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Confections

Help with Hard candy mystery

This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Roberto Martini 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #100990

    Jessie
    Participant

    Ok, please bear with the length of this—-I am assuming the more details, the better. I am hoping one of you more experienced with making confections can help me figure out what is now a mystery to me. I am an avid cook and baker who has recently ventured into the world of hard candy making. After years of trying to find hard candies that I can fall in love with, I have not been able to find any besides Caramel Nips (my addiction). Once I discovered Lorann super strength flavors, it has been a deep dive into a flavor hunt. The other day I made a batch of hard candy and I am not sure how this happened, but I ended up with opaque and crunchy candy that was pretty divine.

    I am attaching a picture in hopes that someone can help me figure out how to recreate these little pieces of happiness. I have no idea what I did differently, but once I put in the flavor and started to stir it began to turn opaque and quickly dry. I do remember seeing that the temperature has gotten over 310 degrees Fahrenheit, but it had not burned like other batches have when they remain clear and get to that high of a temperature. They have little sugar sparkles that gleam from them and a slightly grainy texture. They feel hard, but unlike a hard candy, they just take a bit of hard bite to crack them into little pieces that kinda melt in your mouth. I cannot think of a brand of candy that is similar and I have searched high and low to figure out what the heck I created. I don’t see a way to attach pictures, but I would love to because I think it would make more sense. I would appreciate any help you all can give me in solving this mystery :-)

    #102095

    David Crabill
    Keymaster

    I honestly don’t have enough experience with candy making to answer you question. Have you tried going to a local candy shop and asking? I bet they’d be happy to help!

    #103373

    Roberto Martini
    Participant

    Hello Jessie,
    It looks like you got into the recrystallization phenomenon, that is usually an undesidered (and avoided) effect in hard candy making, but that can unespectedly bring some curious results like the one you got.
    As you probably know, the mix of sugars used for hard candy making should always include, together with saccharose (the common table sugar) also some glucose syrup (or corn syrup) beacause glucose prevent sugar for crystallizing again after cooking.
    And, usually, it is recommended not to put sugar crystals in contact with the cooking mix, since even a small quantity of sugar crystals could activate the recrystallization, hence the need to use well cleaned tools for (sparingly) stir the mixture, and to dissolve promptly any crystallized sugar deposit stuck in the inner wall of the hot pan with a wetted brush so that water vapour breaks down the crystals.
    (Such is the touchy character of sugar’s physics)
    Now, for some reason, in the final stage of the hard crack cooking, you’ve probably brought some crystals of sugar (or any similar ingredient) able to disrupt the normal crystal-clear solidification and trigger the sugar recrystallization. Your description of a texture hard but grainy and fast to melt in mouth once crunched reflects exactly that.
    But, how to consistently replicate this random phenomenon? There’s no standard rule

    #103376

    Roberto Martini
    Participant

    other than trial and error…

    <end of previous reply missing>

    Try the “brute force” method: add a spoonful of fresh sugar to the mixture when reaching 300°F and see…
    Please let me know how it went, pardon me for my english (*undesired*, *unexpectedly*) and greetings from Italy.
    Roberto

    #104188

    David Crabill
    Keymaster

    Thanks Roberto! Jessie accidentally responded to your message via email (which came to me). Here’s her response:

    Hi Roberto, thank you so much for your response to my post. Italy is a place I’ve always dreamed about visiting. I should’ve been born there because I love all the cuisine, culture, landscape, etc.

    I so appreciate your feedback on my hard candy dilemma. I have tried so many times to replicate it and have yet to succeed. I have even tried making it was just powdered sugar to see if that made a difference, but it didn’t. I will try your suggestion of the “brute force” next time I give this a shot. After many attempts to replicate it, I had come to the conclusion that it must be just a product of a mistake or oversight on my part.

    I want to thank you for spending so much time responding to me. All the information you shared is very helpful and validated some of what I was thinking. I love to cook and bake and I’m always willing to try some thing new. Making hard candy is a new love I discovered after trying to replicate the caramel “Nips” hard Candy that I have loved since I was a teenager. I’m a pretty persistent person, so I will continue my trial and error experimentation to replicate my mystery candy :-) But this time, I’m going to pay attention to each step I take and note any changes I see happening during the cooking process. Take care Roberto!

    #104201

    Jessie
    Participant

    No, I looked for forums like this first. Thank you adding my response to Roberto. I was a bit confused when I got your email a while back. He gave me some good information to consider!

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  Jessie.
    #104489

    Jessie
    Participant

    Roberto, I wanted to update you on my progress in figuring out my hard candy mystery!!!. So, I tried your suggestion of adding more sugar once it hit 300 degrees. However, it did not work. It just made it more sugary with a coarse texture. However….this is the best part…..I did finally crack the hard candy code!!!!!! After doing some serious experimentation with changing the amounts of ingredients etc., I was able to recreate my little divine, crunchy, and perfect semi-hard candies. The trick was adding less corn syrup. I have been able to replicate them by putting more sugar and half of the corn syrup called for. Once it hits 300 degrees fahrenheit, it quickly begins to turn opaque and hardens quickly (it now reminds me of a hard version of a fudge). I have made them in chocolate, cherry and lemon so far. I am beyond excited and totally addicted. I so appreciated the time you spent responding to me and I could not wait to tell you the great news! I feel like a detective who has just solved her most intriguing case ever :-) Much love and blessings from this happy Cajun candy maker!

    #104498

    Roberto Martini
    Participant

    Hi Jessie! (And thanks to David for relaying your previous message)
    Glad to hear you succeeded in replicating your so persistently sought-after crunchy effect, I presume that the code you cracked turned out to be something like C₆H₁₂O₆ … Dan Brown would be proud of you :-)

    The trick you’ve devised makes sense indeed… Since glucose (the main component of corn syrup) is employed exactly for its anti-recrystallizing properties, altering the sugar proportions of your mix by making it glucose-starved evidently changed the candy structure in the same way it did for you the first time.

    I like very much your determination, that, together with curiosity and intuition, make the trifecta of a vigorous mind.
    I’m very curious by nature, always in pursuit of the “how and why” since I was a child – very often let down by the simplistic answers of the grownups – and always after new things to discover, learn and engage with. An attitude that invariably brings me, for instance, from wanting to better understand the extrasystole phenomenon (I got plenty, luckily of benign type) to getting me a 12-channel ecg machine, a 24h cardiac holter recorder, practicing them, studying stacks of diagnostic and ecg interpretation books, doing ecg interpretation drills and self-assessment tests… And that’s not due to hypochondria, I’m doing the same for every other thing, candy-making included…
    So I’m with Vincent Van Gogh in saying “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it”
    And there, you mentioned “Cajun” – that until today I thought it was just a spice – and now I’m already curious of knowing more about distant peoples, cultures and languages. So you speak also français cadien? I had french language at school, my english is, as you can easily tell, self-taught.
    Sorry for the long off-topic, but being this a not so crowded thread, I hope not being a nuisance.
    All the best,
    Roberto

    #104513

    Roberto Martini
    Participant

    Just a last quick note…
    What did I tell you?
    Well, it’s 7am in my corner of the world, I’d supposed to be already up and getting ready for work, while instead I’m still in bed listening to Zydeco music 🤣

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