Candy Making Tips Article -
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Candy Making Tips

All you need to make your own people-pleasing confections are a few common kitchen items, simple ingredients, and a little candy-making know-how.

Family Traditions

Making fudge at Christmas can quickly become a tradition, with the whole family coming together to make this simple confection. Candy can also be a great gift. Who wouldn't want to receive a box of homemade chocolate truffles in their stocking?

Tools of the Trade

Most of the tools needed to make candy can be found in a well-stocked kitchen:

  • A medium-sized saucepan with a heavy bottom and straight sides. It should be large enough to hold 3 to 4 times the volume of the ingredients; this will help prevent boil-overs.
  • A bowl, large enough to hold the saucepan, lets you cool the candy while it's still in the pan. The temperature of the sugar mixture continues to rise even after it has been removed from the heat. Immersing the pan in cold water or an ice water bath stops the cooking at just the right time.
  • A long-handled wooden spoon.
  • A pastry brush reserved exclusively for candy-making. Some recipes will call for brushing down the sides of the pan with water to prevent crystallization.
  • A good candy thermometer. Although it is possible to make candy without one, a glass candy thermometer is a must-have for beginners. Even professionals use one. Choose a thermometer with a metal clamp that attaches to the side of the pan.
  • If you make candy on a more regular basis, you may want to invest in a marble slab and a copper caramel pan.

Only the Best

Sugar is the most basic ingredient in candy. Use an unopened package of sugar; this will ensure that there has been no contamination from other ingredients commonly found in the kitchen, such as flour or salt.

Use unsalted butter; the salt content of salted butter can affect your final product. Never use margarine in a recipe that calls for butter: margarine has a higher water content, which will significantly affect the cooking time and results.

    Hints and Tips

    Before you turn on the stove, take a look at the weather. Clear, dry days are best for candy-making. On rainy or humid days, the cooking time can increase substantially or your candy may never set up at all. Sugar attracts water, so the humidity can adversely affect your recipe.

    Test your thermometer to make sure it is accurate. (You should do this every time you make candy.) Immerse it in a pan of water, and bring the water to a boil. The temperature should read 212 degrees F. If it doesn't, you'll need to adjust your recipe to reflect this. For example, if your thermometer reads 215 degrees F in boiling water, and the recipe says cook the candy to 250 degrees F, you'll need to cook the mixture to 253 degrees F.

    Last, but not least, measure all your ingredients before you begin. It takes a long time to reach 220 degrees F, but after that the temperature rises quickly. You'll want to have everything within easy reach.

    Sugar Cooking

    Dissolve sugar into liquid ingredients over low heat, and then bring to a boil. Don't stir once the sugar has dissolved, unless directed to by the recipe.

    • Either clamp the thermometer to the side of the pan, or periodically place it in the syrup to measure the temperature.
    • The bulb of the thermometer should not touch the sides or bottom of the pan, or you'll get an inaccurate reading
    • Always clean the thermometer after each testing, and keep it by the stove in a glass of warm water.
    • Cook until the desired temperature is reached. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and cool the bottom of the pan in the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. (For peanut brittle, pour the hot candy onto a greased baking sheet or oiled marble without cooling.).

    If you don't have a candy thermometer, use the cold water method to test the candy:

    • Drop a small amount of the mixture into a glass of cold water, and then examine it closely to determine if it's at thread stage, soft ball stage, hard ball stage, etc.
    • Remove the pan from the heat while testing to avoid overcooking the candy. Use a fresh glass of water for each test. 

    Cooking On High

    As with most cooking at high altitudes, there are modifications you'll need to make with candy recipes.

    For every 500 feet above sea level, decrease the temperature by one degree. If you live at an altitude of 3500 feet and the recipe calls for cooking to 234 degrees F, cook it to 227 degrees F.

    Mom's kitchen 
    Sep. 29, 2009 4:57 pm
    I am enjoying my travles through allrecipes, but for years I have been in searching(in vain it seems)for a recipe for something called hard tack or heart attack. They were little square candies almost the size of bathroom tiles, they were flat on the bottom and kind of arched on the top and they were made with coconut in them, they came in different flavors I believe razberry was the thing if I remember right. Any way people I'm not getting any younger, and would very much like to taste them one more time. Can any of my fellow cooks out there help me? By the way these candies would have the thing around 1950-60
    Dec. 9, 2009 12:09 pm
    There is a recipe for hard candy in here and it says to sprinkle powdered sugar on the sheet before. We I did and now how do you get it off the candy or can i use a cooking spray? Help please!
    Dec. 13, 2009 12:32 pm
    I made some peanut butter candy with marshmello cream but didn't quite have a full jar so added mini marshmellows (cup) and melted it together with the cream. Anyway it didn't set up after 24hrs. Can I fix it? Thanks.
    Feb. 21, 2010 6:58 am
    is there a difference berween EXTRACT AND OIL FLAVORINGS FOR HARD CANDY?
    brenda l cook 
    Oct. 23, 2010 1:29 pm
    I would like to get the recipe's for suckers (candy) that is sugar free. please and thank you.
    brenda l cook 
    Oct. 23, 2010 1:32 pm
    I would like to get the recipe's for suckers (candy) that is sugar free. please and thank you.And please tell me what the URL means I am not computer smart.for all items.
    Nov. 16, 2010 4:44 pm
    From over 40 years' of cany-making experience, I'd like to add the following: All-glass thermometers break - much better to buy a quality metal-backed thermometer. These are usually available in the candy/cake decorating sections at craft stores. Also - sugar must be pure CANE sugar, and it will say so on the package. If it doesn't say pure cane, it likely is at least partially beet sugar, which doesn't work well for candy.
    Dec. 7, 2010 7:38 pm
    Dec. 12, 2010 12:43 am
    Brenda, an "URL" is the address. For example: look at the bar up at the top of your screen and it should read: "".
I hope this helps.
    Sep. 11, 2011 4:01 pm
    I would dearly love to make some hard candy with some Rose Hip and Aronia Berry juices that I've just made. At least that way the candy would have some redeeming health it possible to make hard candy without the water and just substitute the juice or would that prevent it from setting up?
    Jan. 6, 2012 10:57 am
    can someone let me know how long after I make fudge can I keep it I was going to cut and warp it...weeks, months.thank you
    Jan. 11, 2012 7:38 am
    Does anyone know how to make sugar free hard candy?? I've been using the below recipe, however the candy isn't quite hard. It sticks to my teeth and it melts into a blob after a day or so on my counter. The syrup is equal parts water and splenda or stevia. 1 ½ cups of sugar-free syrup 1 cup of Maltitol ¾ teaspoon of candy flavoring oil
    Feb. 19, 2012 7:30 am
    Are there tips for making candy at high altitudes (6500 feet)? Toffee, for instance? Thanks.
    Feb. 29, 2012 9:37 am
    I had some delicious soft peanut brittle. When I tried to duplicate the recipe, (calling for me to cook it to 300 degrees)it still turned out hard as a rock. Can anyone help me on this one. Thanks
    Mar. 8, 2012 10:37 am
    "Great article !People would probably be very hungry after this. Go to and for more Ideas."
    Dec. 18, 2014 5:41 pm
    I have been using my Mom's fudge recipe for years but the last few batches has clumped up after I added the semi-sweet chips. I boil the evaporated milk and sugar for 5 min, take it off the heat then add the marshmallows, then the chips. As soon as I start to stir in the chips they clump up on me. I use a name brand of chips, same as the ones my Mom always used. Do you have any suggestions? It would be appreciated. Thank you.
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