Monday, October 30, 2006

Candy Class

This is the time of year when my thoughts begin to turn to the holidays. One thing that I love to do during the holiday season is make candy. There is just something so wonderful about putting sugar, corn syrup, butter, and flavorings into a pot and cooking them in different ways to produce candy. I love it. My absolute favorite candy to make are my truffles. It's a little early to be working on the truffle factory, but this is the perfect time to experiment with something new.

Today I opened my book "Candymaking" by Ruth A. Kendrick and Pauline H. Atkinson. This is a great book for a beginner candy maker. I haven't liked everything that I have made out of this book, but the directions are pretty straightforward, and it doesn't take long to get a handle on the basics. Today's challenge was Fondant. This particular fondant was called Water Fondant. Fondant is the basis for many candies, and what I am after is cream fillings to be dipped in chocolate. My truffles are excellent, but I would like to provide some variety to the rich truffles. Fondant is actually what makes the liquid center in a cherry cordial. And, as it turns out, fondant is fairly simple to make, provided you have some time and some elbow grease.

I started by putting my ingredients into my pot. I placed this on the burner over high heat, and let it combine, stirring occasionally. Once it started boiling, all I needed to do was add my thermometer and let the candy do its stuff. I monitored the thermometer carefully, as it is a new one, and I wanted to be sure it worked properly. It seemed to anyway. I waited patiently for the temperature to get up to 240-or soft ball stage. Without stirring I removed the thermometer and poured the boiling sugar into my 9 x 13 ungreased pyrex pan. I tried to move the pan as gently as possible to my garage floor- which was nice and cool. A refrigerator works as well, but I didn't want to take the time to make space in there. The directions stated to wait until the bottom of the pan was no longer warm. It only took about 30 minutes in my garage to achieve this. Here is what it looks like at this point: You really want your pan to be cool at this point. The cooler it is, the creamier the end result will be. You can see that it is pretty shiny, and here is where the elbow grease comes in. I took my heavy duty wooden spoon and started stirring. The mixture kind of resembles something unpleasant, rubber cement comes to mind, but I decided this was the perfect time to add my flavoring and color. Today's flavor selection was raspberry. I took some raspberry extract, a few drops of lemon oil, and some red food coloring and stirred it in. Here is the result of that additive.
Now the tough part. According to my book, this stirring can take as long as 30 or 40 minutes. I took my wooden spoon and just continuously stirred the mixture in my pan. Over and over. The longer I stirred, the tougher it got, but I kept at it. What I was looking for was for the gloss to go away, and for the fondant to set up. What this book doesn't help with was how to stop the pan from sliding around on me. It wasn't long before I needed to use both hands on the spoon to stir, and the darn pan just kept slipping and sliding. So I ended up dampening a towel and sitting on the floor. I put the pan on the damp towel, and I wedged the pan and myself between my stove and counter, so it wasn't going anywhere. And I kept stirring, and stirring, and developed and burst a couple of blisters, but by golly, I was determined. And thankfully, my stirring only took about 20 minutes before I ended up with this beautiful pile of fondant:
The fondant will keep for several days in a fridge, or several months in a fridge. This is supposed to improve over time, so I will be freezing it until closer to Christmas. All it needs is to be rolled into balls and dipped in chocolate. It tastes great now, and would be excellent now, but I'm looking forward to trying it after it has had time to ripen. It's light and creamy and tastes like a bright raspberry. I am very pleased, and I am hoping to get to a cake supply store sometime soon to pick up some orange extract, as I would like to do an orange cream as well, and possibly a mint cream. First though, I need to heal up my blisters. And the best part? One batch of fondant will make about 100 centers- that's a lot of chocolates that I can give for gifts. Now I just need to find a source for inexpensive chocolate boxes. Suggestions anyone?


The Mom said...

You don't need boxes... I have the perfect place to deliver all those lucious chocolates, and they don't even need to be wrapped! Yum!

Would you like me to come and bandage your poor hands? Tee-hee!

I'll look for boxes....

Erika said...

Okay Mom, you can have them, but I don't want to hear it when you have to start pulling out your fat clothes again... ;-)