There are certain dos and don'ts to keep in mind when you're making any kind of candy, whether you’re a novice or an experienced cook. Here are seven candy mistakes to avoid if you want perfect batches every time.
1. Making Candy on a Humid Day
It's best to make candy on a cool, dry day. If it's humid or rainy, the candy might end up with a more sugary, grainy texture. If you are making candy on a hot or humid day, cook the candy until the thermometer registers 1 to 2 degrees higher than the recipe specifies.
2. Using the Wrong Pan
Use a heavy saucepan with thick sides and a thick bottom so that it will conduct heat evenly. Candy mixtures usually triple in volume as they cook, so you'll need a pan that is large enough for the mixture to boil freely without boiling over.
3. Using the Wrong Spoon
A wooden spoon is the preferred utensil for making candy. Some candy mixtures need to be stirred while they're still hot, and wooden spoons don't absorb heat like metal spoons.
4. Not Using a Candy Thermometer
Sure, you can eyeball it or use the cold water test to see if the mixture has cooked to the proper stage, but to take out the guesswork, use a candy thermometer. The thermometer will help you cook the candy mixture to the precise temperature specified in the recipe. Attach a clip-on thermometer to the side of the pan, and make sure that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan so you'll get the temperature of the candy mixture, not the pan.
5. Not Controlling the Crystals
The main goal in candy making is to control the formation of sugar crystals. If you have a lot of sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pan, your candy will be too grainy. Always stir gently to avoid splashing the candy mixture onto the sides of the pan. And, after the mixture comes to a boil, use a brush dipped in warm water to wash any crystals off the sides of the pan.
6. Scraping the Saucepan
When you're making fudge, don't scrape the mixture from the sides of the saucepan into the bowl or the fudge will be too grainy.
7. Combining Chocolate and Water
Don't let melted chocolate come in contact with water. When the chocolate comes in contact with even must a few drops of water, the dry particles in the chocolate (cocoa and sugar) become moist and begin to stick together, forming a gritty clump of chocolate. This is called seizing. Make sure your bowls, utensils and workstation are completely dry. If you're melting chocolate in a double boiler, don't let the water boil and splash up into the chocolate.