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May 01, 2016
Early on in my career transition to become a candy maker I realized that there are no candy maker courses or programs. Sure, you can take lots of chocolatier certification programs or you can become a certified pastry chef, which includes making marshmallows and some sugar work. But nothing that will help you perfect the art of caramels AND lollipops AND marshmallows AND pulled taffy, for instance.
So everything I've learned, I've learned from candy recipe books, online food forums (great for troubleshooting tips) and a LOT of trial-and-error. Needless to say, my collection of books is fairly significant. And I love them all for different reasons. I have my eye on lots more books but in the meantime, here are a few of my favourites in case you would like to tackle making candy in your own kitchen:
The Sweet Book of Candy Making, by Elizabeth LaBau
I mentioned this book in an earlier post in reference to her lavender caramels recipe. Elizabeth overall is an amazing wealth of information from her book to her online column. If there's a candy out there, she's likely got a recipe for it.
Liddabit Sweet Candy Cookbook, by Liz Gutman and Jen King
I also mentioned these gals and their company in an earlier post but what I love about the book is how many recipes there are in this book. You could spend a month or more making a different candy recipe each day. The only weakness about this book is that there are some typos in the recipes so they had to publish a list of corrections. So if you buy the book, make sure you print out this list of corrections and put a sticky note on each page to remind yourself to review the list.
Sweet Things To Make or Give, by Annie Rigg
Annie was a food stylist so as you can imagine the images in this book are beauuuutiful. Chapters are broken down into product and there are more than a few different recipes for each product. So the chapter on marshmallows has 8 different recipes. She also has 3 different recipes for Turkish Delight which is something I want to make for the upcoming Christmas season.
Truly Scrumptious Natural Sweets, Alison Candlin
My friend brought this back from England for me and what I love is that it really is all natural ingredients like fruits, herbs and flowers. The first 1/4 of the book is just on equipment & techniques including the technique of pulling - used to make hard boiled sweets.
Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home, Nina Wanat
Two words that makes this book awesome - Liquor Lollipops. Yep, this book has that recipe. It also has salt water taffy, caramallows (caramel wrapped marshmallows...and yes, I plan to make these again), candied apples and a fabulous sweet & salty snack tray that includes caramel corn, chocolate dipped potato chips and pretzels.
All the recipes are pretty simple and easy for the home cook. The photographs are beautiful and ensure you know what the final product should look like.
Boiled Sweets, How They Used To Do It, Two Magpies
The cover image alone made me 'have to have it'. The book itself is very simple with much of it dedicated to the history, techniques and basic ingredients. Then again, making hard candy IS very simple, once you know the ratio of sugar to syrup, have a good candy thermometer and pot, and know that even the best candy makers can burn sugar within a split second. What I love most is the recipe
Chocolates & Confections, Peter Greweling
The is the professional candy makers book but I seriously should have bought this book FIRST, not last. It explains everything from the science on the composition and characteristics of sugar, to shelf life and storage techniques, and the proper ratios within the recipe. I think the biggest lesson I learned from this book, vs all the others, is that the others are truly made for home cooks. So the ratios are slightly 'off' (likely make them more affordable recipes) which makes the final product's shelf life MUCH shorter - typically 3-4 weeks, in most cases.
In the end, hand crafted candy of any kind tastes so much better than anything mass produced and likely won't last more than a few days in the hands of whomever gets to eat them.
Overall, taking the time to make good quality sweets is well worth it.
I wish you many sweet moments in your own pursuit into candy making.
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