Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chocolate Candy Making 101


If you have never tried it, the words “candy making” can strike fear into your heart. It might very well bring to mind worries over scorching chocolate, finding the perfect temperature for the sugar to make hard candy, and maybe the time you got molten caramel on your finger and it left a blister for days. After all that, you’re probably ready to give up and head to the store.

However, you do not have to go through all that trouble just to make your own candy. In fact, all you really need are the right ingredients, a refrigerator, and a microwave. Making your own candy is so simple, you could do it at the office if you had the time and, if you like your coworkers enough, share your candy with them.

Of course, to pull this off, you will need some chocolate that has already been tempered, it's called melting chocolate. It comes in both white and dark chocolate packages. This means that your selection of candies will be limited to what you can make with chocolate, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It is chocolate, after all.

Ready to try it? The following guide will lay out the steps for making the candy and shows how to make a s'mores-style candy with dark chocolate and marshmallows. This candy making guide is just a start; feel free to tinker with it as much, or as little, as you desire.

How to make candy
Step 1: Preparing to Make Your Own Candy
The first step will be to prepare the container that is going to hold the candy. You want a fairly deep (minimum 1-inch), non-reactive vessel; a glass lasagna pan would work perfectly. You also will want to grease it with butter or cooking spray. This example will assume a 9-inch lasagna pan.

Step 2: Making the Candy Crust
This is an optional step. You may or may not choose to put a non-chocolate layer at the bottom of the pan. For our s’mores dessert, you will want to smash up about 20 graham crackers and spread them on the bottom of the vessel. You also could use cereal mix, pretzels, potato chips, etc. Just spread it out so that it evenly coats the entire bottom of the pan.

Step 3: Make Your Own Candy’s First Chocolate Layer
Now it’s time to use the microwave. To make the chocolate layer, mix 8-ounces of melting chocolate with two tablespoons of butter and microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then microwave again for 15 seconds. You also can stir in about 2 teaspoons of extract or flavoring, if desired.

Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the pan and spread it evenly so that it coats the entire pan. If you are going to add more layers (see step 4), then put the pan into the refrigerator to let the chocolate cool. If not, go to step 5.

For our s’mores we’re going to use 8-ounces of dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 teaspoons of orange extract. The orange is not traditional, but it will taste good. We will not add another layer, so we’ll go to step 5.

Step 4: Candy Making is Better with More Chocolate
This step is optional. If you like, you may layer the chocolate by repeating step 3. Just melt the chocolate, then pour it into the pan and let it cool.

This is what you would do if you were making peppermint bark and wanted to mix light and dark chocolate. Just must sure the chocolate is cool before adding the next layer. For our s'mores, we’re going to skip this step.

Step 5: Topping Your Homemade Candy
This is the final step: You can add another layer of toppings to the candy like chocolate chips, crushed up candy canes, pretzels, or bacon. For our s’mores, we are going to add a layer of mini-marshmallows. All you have to do is scatter them over the top of the candy and then put it in the refrigerator until the chocolate is completely cool.

Note: it is very important that you add the toppings while the chocolate is still warm so that they will adhere to the candy when it cools.

There you have it, you can now make candy in basically the amount of time it takes chocolate to melt. Have fun experimenting with this recipe and keep it handy around Christmas. Peppermint bark, for instance, is nothing more than a dark chocolate layer, a white chocolate layer flavored with peppermint extract, and crushed up candy canes.

Now start experimenting; you have two ideas, have fun creating your own.

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