Making candy for the holidays? These tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen will help you turn out candy-store-quality confections.
- Measure and assemble all ingredients before beginning. Don't substitute or alter the recipe's basic ingredients.
- Once you start a batch of brittle, don’t leave it. Keep stirring constantly. Humidity will make the candy stick together, so cool weather is the best time to make it.
- Candy is cooked to a "hard-ball" stage when a candy thermometer reads 250°. Drop a small amount of the hot candy mixture into cold water. When cooled and removed from the water, the candy will form a hard yet pliable ball.
- Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, most homemade candy will keep for about 2 to 3 weeks. Fudge and caramels can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 year.
- Always store different types of candy in separate containers, using waxed paper between layers. This will keep candies from exchanging flavors. If hard candy and soft candy are not stored separately, the moisture from the soft candy will cause the hard candy to become sticky.
- When purchasing a candy thermometer, look for one with a clear readout and an adjustable clip so it can be attached to the side of a pan. To use the thermometer, stand it upright in the candy syrup so the bulb is completely immersed in the liquid. Do not let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Clip it in place.
- We recommend that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
- If a recipe tells you to cook the candy mixture to "thread stage," it refers to the stage when a candy thermometer reads between 230° and 233°. Dip a metal spoon into the hot candy mixture. Hold the spoon over cold water. The mixture should fall off the spoon in a fine thread.