I think I was about 17 when I caught wind that my mother was taking my older sister Tina to visit my Grandmother in Boise to learn how to make chocolates.
choc·o·lates (chô’kə-lĭts, chôk’lĭts, chŏk’-s)
- flavored cream fondant, caramel, nuts, or other savory items dipped in fermented, roasted, shelled, and ground cacao seeds then melted
- delicious confectionery recipe passed down through the Ouderkirk genealogical family line
- scratchmade love candy given to Gabriel by his gorgeous wife on Valentines day
Unfortunately, I learned that I was not invited. Who was invited, other than my mother and sister? my 6 old niece aptly named Catherine (my favorite name)! I thought that was ridiculous! I rarely got to see my Grandmother, and Tina spent her summers growing up on the family farm! Plus, it was time I got to learn how to make those chocolates! So, I finagled a way to secure an invitation: I offered to babysit. After all, how were they going to concentrate on making chocolates when a little child was running around? I knew however, that the the allure of Boise antique shops would be to much to resist, and I would have Bammieroo all to myself.
I was right. They spent a few minutes at the house, but mostly the two of them were out and about picking up discarded, dirty, dusty duds.
They missed all the fun!! Catherine and I made a fun memory book of our time spent together with stickers, paints, and pictures, we watched a pirated DVD of the Titanic filmed from a theater with no sound that Bam picked up from a street vendor in NY, explored for hours outside on the acres and acres of land on the property, and flavored and dipped chocolates.
This blog entry will catalogue step one of candy making.
First, we will go over a couple must have things you need before you can get started. Most importantly is a heavy durable pan, ceramic, enamel, or waterless aluminum. Waterless aluminum is not your typical grocery store pan – a famous brand would be a Guardian Service pan, touted as being practically bullet proof. Regrettably you can no longer purchase these pans, but you can find beautiful enamel pans made by Le Creuset, or wonderful ceramic pans made by Calphalon, even at discount stores like Ross and TJMaxx. Also, the pan can be no smaller than 8″ in diameter, and 4″ deep. Second, it is in your best interest to have a stand mixer with a kneading hook, like a Bosch. I know that you can make candy without it, and I know that my Grandmother used to do it as well as countless other people, but I don’t know why you would want to. And you must have a lid – no exceptions! Lastly, a marble slab, or some concoction that you can pour boiling liquid onto.
Now you are ready!
In your pan mix 2 cups sugar with 1 cup of cream and 1 tablespoon Karo syrup with a wooden spoon.
Place on burner and turn heat to med-high. Cover with lid, or substitute lid with aluminum foil. Do not stir.
Allow mixture to boil and rise to the top of the pan. This will prevent crystallization of the sugar, and speed up the cooking process. Once mixture has reached the top of the pan, remove lid and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Continue to cook until mixture reaches hard ball stage. Don’t rely on a thermometer, this is old fashioned candy making, so leave modern appliances for the grunt work.
Once candy reaches the correct stage, pour onto well buttered marble slab to cool. The purpose for pouring the candy onto the slab is that you want to end the cooking process immediately. If it cools in the pan, it will continue to cook, and you will no longer have creamy candy fondant.
Allow the candy to cool until it comes up easily off the marble, and looks a bit wrinkly when contorted. Scoop candy into your mixer and turn on high. Or, if you choose to make the candy without a mixer, get out your wooden spoon and start weaving circle 8’s through your fondant.
While mixing, your candy is going to go through 3 distinct stages; my Grandmother called this ‘turning’. Depending on how long you cooked the candy, how long you let the candy cool, the temperature of your kitchen, the weather, the time of year, etc. etc. will determine how long this process takes. My best advice is to be patient. In the best of times it takes 10 minutes, but I have patiently screamed at my mixer, the candy, and my husband while waiting 2 hours at times. My mother always says, “Just wait,”; she always seems to be right.
The first stage is fairly close to the same consistency as when you poured the candy from the pan. It is smooth, buttery and resembles caramel in look and taste – but better. This is the longest stage. The next stage happens fairly quickly, and if you are reading or watching TV during your mixing you could miss it. If you have a 2 hour marathon mixing event I highly recommend watching TV or reading, and pulling up a chair, but do not leave your mixer unattended. It is a vigorous process, and needs one hand on the mixer at all times. The second stage is crumbly, and resembles pebbles in look only.
Place all of your completed fondant into a bowl, or Tupperware to cure, just make sure it is wrapped up tight. At this stage your candy will turn rock hard. This process takes a minimum of 3 days, but can last afterward for months in your fridge. Keep in a separate drawer, or away from any smells which it could absorb.
Check back in a few days to see the next step in our candy making process.
If you make your candy today, your candy will be ready for the next stage on the 12th, and just in time to give to your sweetheart and WOW them on Valentine’s Day. If you have any questions about the process – please feel free to email me and I will promptly respond!