In years past, I've put candy-making on my to-make lists, but never seem to get to it. Or I forget a recipe. Or I find just the one, in the middle of January, only to file it away and forget about it again. This year though, with the likes of organizational tools like Pinterest, I have been squirreling away ideas since spring. (If you are a visual thinker like I am, this virtual pin board is wonderful.)
Alex and I both have childhood memories of making candy with our families, stretching salt water taffy across the kitchen or stacking blocks of fudge into boxes for gift giving.
So with that tradition in mind, we made Sea Glass Candy. I adapted our recipe and methods from this recipe.
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 – 1 tsp. flavoring oil
butter for greasing baking sheet
confectioner's sugar for coating the candy
Grease large baking sheet with butter. Then measure sugar, water and syrup. Pour into saucepan, place over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Place candy thermometer in pan and boil--without stirring-- until thermometer reads between 300F-310F*. This will take about 30 minutes.
*Once your thermometer reads 279F, watch your pan very carefully. This is about 15 minutes into the process. You will start to smell the sugar cooking at this point. I found that the last half of the boiling goes very quickly and, as I learned when making my first batch, that once the sugar smells brown, or as my thermometer hit 295F, you have about one second between a good batch and a completely ruined batch. Like so.
Gross. Here's a tip: when your kitchen is filling with hideous burnt sugar smoke and your formerly boiling sugar is quickly hardening in your only saucepan into a black, sticky mass, do not attempt to pour it down the sink (unless you want pipes filled with taffy.) Luckily, I had some aluminum baking pans on hand and I poured the burnt sugar into one of those, and with protected hands, placed that on a baking sheet and placed it outside to cool completely before disposing of it. Like so.
Because the timing on the boiling sugar is so precise, only one batch at a time is possible. It's also important to note that you should measure out any desired food coloring and flavoring ahead of time, so that you are ready to add both once you have removed the sugar from the heat. You will have to work quickly. Once the sugar is ready (a few drops into a glass of ice water should crackle into strands), remove from heat, then add any desired flavoring or color. Mix with a wooden spoon. (I noticed that 1 tsp of color is very deep and intense, so if you desire something paler, add only a scant drop. However, 1 tsp of flavoring is barely detectable, so adjust accordingly.)
Once you've stirred the color and flavoring into the sugar, pour out onto your buttered baking sheet. (At this point, you can swirl additional color into the sugar for a neat streaked effect, as suggested by my kids.) You do not need to spread the sugar out, simply let it cool. I put ours outside for about 15 minutes (it was cold) first, then moved it to the freezer for another 5 minutes. It will look something like this.
Now comes the fun part. Once your sugar is completely cooled, cover it with a piece of parchment or wax paper and using a rubber mallet, rolling pin or hammer, tap your sugar until it cracks into pieces. A variety of sizes is best. Overly large pieces should be split.
Then, scoop about a 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar into a gallon resealable bag and scoop the broken pieces of sugar into the bag. Seal well, and shake to coat each piece.
The candy should really start to resemble sea glass at this point, but removing some of the excess sugar in a colander, over a baking sheet, by stirring the pieces vigorously, really achieves that perfect sea glass look.
We did this to all three batches, each a slightly different shade of blue-green. We then filled gift bags with the candy and sealed for giving.
Doesn't that look pretty enough to eat? Thrilled with the success of that project, we moved onto some late-night peppermint bark making. I read about Amanda's favorite recipe some years ago, but had never made it. The recipe is also here. I'm not even a big chocolate fan, but this peppermint bark is good. It's fairly simple (though I still find the foil-on-the-back-of-a -baking sheet-thing perplexing. I followed directions, but I don't know why that step mattered.)
What's cooking in your kitchen? I hope it's something sweet!