Thursday, November 5, 2015

Best Candy Making Techniques to Learn Before Christmas

There's really no better time than the holidays to try your hand at making candy. After all, homemade candies are a great addition to your own table and make awesome gifts too. With some basic know how, you can learn how to make festive treats perfect for the upcoming holidays.

Traditional Tempered Chocolates

If you want to make gorgeous, traditional chocolates, you'll need to master tempering. It's all about getting the temperature right, so you'll need a reliable thermometer. Start with high-quality, real chocolate. Chop it into small pieces and heat it over a double boiler, bringing its temperature to 115 degrees. Begin dropping in small chunks of chocolate, bringing the temperature to between 88 and 90 degrees. Pour chocolate into molds or use it to dip berries and candied citrus peels. If you work with it at this magic temperature, your end result will be glossy chocolates with snap.

Quick-and-Tasty Molded Treats

That kind of handmade, pure chocolate is great, but we don't all have time for tempering. To make cute, quick chocolates for an Advent Calendar, candy dish or even to decorate cupcakes, use chocolate or candy melts with Christmas candy molds. For even cooler designs, add oil-based food coloring to melts before you pour them into molds.

Get sophisticated with multi-color designs by piping different colored candy melts into different sections of your mold. Of course, you'll need to let each color harden completely before moving on to the next. All kinds of candies get even better when you incorporate colors and flavors, but remember that you'll need specialty supplies in order to do that.

Delightful Hard Candies

You want to make lollipops or molded hard candies to celebrate the holidays, but it seems daunting. Like tempered chocolate, making hard candies means heeding the temperature of your sugar syrup. For the best results, ask friends and family members in your local area what hard candy recipes they love. Altitude and humidity can really affect hard candy, so stick with recipes that have worked for others in your area. Follow the directions precisely. You can add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or cream of tartar to keep your mixture from crystallizing.

Once your sugar mixture has reached the right temperature, you're ready to get pouring. Special hard candy molds are designed to withstand the high temperatures of molten sugar. You can also use silicone molds for everything from hard candies to chocolates to cream cheese mints. For the best results, spray your molds and the funnel you're using to pour your sugar syrup with non-stick cooking spray.

There's no limit to the cute treats you can make using these basic techniques. These skills carry over to other holidays, too. Master chocolate tempering by New Year's and you'll be making amazing truffles by Valentine's Day.

What candy are you most looking forward to making this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

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