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  • Writer's pictureGrace Saadi

Old Fashioned Hard Candies (& New Name!)

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Feel free to jump straight to the recipe. But if you could take a moment to read the blurb at the beginning, I’d appreciate it! And don’t worry, it’s not a story about the trip my friend’s distant cousin and her fifth husband took to Venice 3 years ago and now try to act like they're experts on all things Italian.


Some of you may have already noticed, but this site has gone through some changes lately. Originally titled “Scribbles & Sounds”, the blog was created for a writing class in college where I specifically discussed children’s books and other similar media. I continued to use it for my food writing class a year later but soon realized that the name was a bit limiting. While I still have goals of writing, illustrating, and publishing my own book(s) one day, baking is my current priority and passion.


I chose the name "Refined & Dandy" for several reasons. 1st I just like it! It’s fun, it’s a play on a common phrase, has a vintage quality, and even is somewhat food-related (refined sugar for example). You can see that my new aesthetic and logo reference this, and I love that I’ve been able to incorporate a hot air balloon into all of this. I’ve always had a fascination with them, and I don’t really know why. And 2nd, it's vague. While I will focus on delivering food content and recipes, I also want to use this platform as an opportunity to express other interests every now and then. Along with writing and illustrating, I’d love to share a new trade, skill, or craft that I’ve been working on. It may or may not be food-related and will vary depending on what piques my interest. I have one in the mail right now that I’ve been wanted to attempt for some time now, so keep an eye out for that!


Ironically, I first came up with this name when I temporarily pondered going into candy-making professionally (trust me, it was brief). So I figured it would only be appropriate to make that the first recipe I shared!


On another note, I realize there have been some disparities in the recipes I’ve shared in the past, specifically in their formatting. Going forward, I plan on formatting with weight rather than volume and typing out the ingredients rather than having them in a chart (like I’ve done a few times in the past). Also, when posts include more than 1 recipe, I personally prefer when it's listed as recipe 1: ingredients & instructions, recipe 2: ingredients & instructions, and so on. I believe I’ve found a setup that I like but I’d be happy to take any suggestions! The best way to do this is to send an email or DM me on TikTok or Instagram since Wix’s comment system is a bit strange.


There’s a lot more I’d like to discuss, but I’ll save that for a later post. Now on with the recipe!

 

Old Fashioned Candies

Yield: approx. 30 candies (depending on size)


Ingredients:

125 g filtered water

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

375 g granulated sugar

2-3 drops of food coloring (preferably liqua gel)

confectioners’ sugar


Instructions:

  1. Add the water, cream of tartar, and sugar to a clean pot.*

  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it starts to boil, stop stirring. At this point, add your thermometer and increase the heat.*

  3. As the sugar cooks, occasionally brush down the sides of the pot with a damp brush dipped in cold water. Do this sparingly, and stop brushing when the solution reached 280°F.*

  4. When the temperature reached 315°F, add the flavoring and coloring and very gently stir the solution with the thermometer to distribute.

  5. When the solution reached 320°F, remove the pot from heat, shock it in a bowl of cold water*, and immediately pour it onto a clean Silpat.

  6. Let the sugar cool for a minute or so until you are able to flick the edges into the center (wearing food-safe gloves). Continue moving the cooler edges of sugar in the warm center to distribute the heat until it forms a more solid mass that can be more easily handled. Be patient at this step! If it seems like the sugar is not cooling enough to handle, move the Silpat to another spot on the counter to help speed up the process.

  7. Pinch off small chunks of the thickened sugar* and roll between your hands to make a ball, working quickly. Put the sugar ball in the bowl of confectioner's sugar to coat and help cool. Repeat until all the sugar is used.

  8. You may find that the sugar will cool before you’re able to roll all the candy pieces. To help combat this, set the oven to 200°F and place the chunk of sugar in for 2-3 minutes to re-soften.

  9. Remove the candies from the powdered sugar and transfer them into an airtight container. You could even wrap them in decorative paper and give them away as gifts!


Tips:

*The keyword here is clean. Thoroughly clean all your tools prior to making this candy, it even helps to wipe the pot with a paper towel lightly soaked in vinegar. Also, to help avoid crystallization when cooking, try to use sugar straight from the bag so it is as clean as possible.

*I highly recommend using a candy thermometer for this. It will help with achieving the correct temperature without guessing or concern. This also makes cooking easier to handle because it can be clipped to the side and sat in the center of the solution.

*As the sugar solution is cooking, don’t worry if you see some color change. Just make sure that it is cooking over even heat and try to cook as fast as possible to avoid too much of a color change. If you are adding food coloring, this should not be much of a problem in the end.

*You could either fill up the sink or a large bowl with water, just steer clear of glass. To shock the pot, just quickly dip the pot (about halfway) into the water to stop the cooking. There will be a loud sizzle noise at contact and some steam will form, so be careful!

*There really is no measurement to this, make them any size you want! My candies tended to vary, but I really didn’t mind because I like the old-fashioned, rustic look.

 

Side note: Ingredient Importance


Cream of Tartar:

The cream of tartar is partially what helps make this recipe more beginner-friendly. For those who don’t know, it’s an acidic by-product of wine fermentation called potassium bitartrate. It’s more commonly used in meringues to help stabilize egg whites, but in this case, it helps to prevent crystallization! Be careful not to add too much, it could make the candy too pliable and make it difficult to hold its shape. Another bonus tip: if you’re like me and despise making caramel sauce, try adding a pinch of cream of tartar next time you make it!


Flavoring:

You can get away with using flavor extracts, but when it comes to candy making, flavor oils are the way to go. Typically found at specialty food stores and places like Michael’s Crafts, they’re super concentrated flavoring agents that are 3-4 times stronger than extracts. I used Lorann’s strawberry flavoring in this recipe. I especially like their oils because they offer 1-dram sized bottles, meaning you don’t have to fret about measuring when it's time to add it to the sugar solution.

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