“keri’s filling just popped off”
“oh no! you’re kidding me?”
“she just left to go to the dentist”
“i said don’t bite! aw man, so much for hard candy at work”
what an adventure this has been. there have been mistakes, burns and emergency dental appointments (sorry keri) but after many many tries….i finally succeeded at the salt water taffy.
disclaimer: if you’re an adult…your teeth aren’t as strong as they use to be….proceed with caution. the emergency dental appointment happened on a batch (gone wrong) that was heated too much and turned into hard candy….i feel like it’s natural to bite down on candy even if you’re told not too…so if you have had work done to your teeth…and want that work to stay intact…be careful…or just steer clear completely :)
i have never attempted to make candy before….but it seemed simple enough…so i went out all confident…bought my first candy thermometer and collected about five or six different recipes. all the recipes were very similar…all calling for the same ingredients, only slight measurement differences here and there. i finally settled on a recipe i found on this blog (that i just discovered and am kinda falling in love with)…i picked the recipe mostly because of the beautiful photography (as i’m a sucker for things well designed and displayed) ms. humble also pointed me in the direction of LorAnn candy oils, which i learned are essential.
as the oils weren’t immediately accessible, i began to do my trial runs with some cinnamon oil i had on hand. for the first batch…i followed the directions precisely…heating the candy till it reached 260°F. i poured it out, let it cool and began pulling it…until it got so difficult that either i would lose my grip and hit myself in the face or it would break apart. hmmm….this did not seem right. will it soften as it cools? no…it will not. this first run ended up turning into a large hard candy cinnamon blob. also…halfway through this trial run….i distinctly remembered my father’s advice to NEVER directly touch the cinnamon oil to your skin…and to be very very careful with it. unfortunately i didn’t remember until my cheek started to tingle and feel very flushed. sure enough i had been careless with the oil and must have touched my face….i’m just thankful i didn’t touch my eyes…eek!
after this disaster of a trial run…i was sure i had done something wrong. i checked through all my recipes…and nothing seemed off. upon further inspection of my candy thermometer i noticed that there are different levels marked off: thread, soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack and hard crack. 260°F fell into the “hard ball” range. i decided i should experiment more with the temperature instead of the ingredients.
the most helpful tip i found was to drop a spoonful of your candy mixture, while it is heating, into a bowl of cold water. the candy mixture will harden into its final consistancy so you can tell if you’re at a good stage to stop heating or not. my go-to temperature ended up being 250°F.
salt water taffy
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted – extra for coating pans and hands
1 teaspoon salt
flavoring oil & color
i went with apple, strawberry cheesecake, mint chocolate-chip, marshmallow and vanilla (would have done cinnamon too, if it hadn’t been so mean to me) you only need about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of oil.
shallow heat safe pan, or marble slab
medium-sized sauce pan with lid
grease or butter shallow pans or marble slab and set aside. if you are making multiple flavors, prepare multiple pans.
in your saucepan, mix together sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, water, salt and melted butter over medium heat. stir until all the sugar has dissolved. let mixture come to a boil and cover with lid for 2-3 minutes. Remove lid and clip on your candy thermometer and heat to 250°F (that’s just my opinion….feel free to experiment with different temperatures). Remove from heat and stir in flavoring oils and color.
pour out candy into buttered pan or marble slab and let cool.
once cool enough to handle, grease or butter your hands and begin to pull taffy until it has a smooth satiny appearance. i laid down wax paper so that anytime the taffy started to get too sticky to manage, i could lay it down on the wax paper and then regroup. i also alternated between flavors. i pulled one flavor for about five minutes and then let it rest in the fridge while i started in on the next flavor, and alternated this way until i was ready to cut and shape the candy. when you are ready to cut, butter some kitchen shears and cut away…wrap with wax paper and then you’re done! i ended up with about 80 pieces per batch…but this really depends on the size you cut the taffy to.
again…careful with the dental work….but enjoy!
in the event that you have read this whole post and are concerned about keri’s tooth….rest assured….she was back from the dentist in about 45 minutes….it was free….and she said it didn’t hurt….but seeing the tooth without the cap was a bit shocking and she doesn’t recommend it.