There are many areas of candy making, and this one is on the easier side, but takes special care and tools to get it done right. Since the sugar will reach 375F or more, burns are a concern. I would not let children help with this project.
Hard crack sugar can be used in several ways for garnish, and for making suckers and similar candy. In these photos, I used a 6-8oz ladle to create the dome and placed it over some melon pieces (called “Forbidden Fruit”).
This website at Baking911.com is a great starter for candy making.
- A heavy pot (copper, anodized aluminum, cast aluminum or cast iron)
- Candy thermometer
- Pastry brush
- Large metal sheet tray, or heat resistant surface to work on
- Food release spray
- Metal fork or spoon
- Large metal or heat proof ladle, small stainless steel bowl or other bowl shape to form cage shape
- Knife-sharpening steel or wooden spoon to form corkscrews
- Very large stock pot
- 1 qt Sugar
- 1 c Water
- Clean water for dipping pastry brush
Combine sugar and water and place on high heat. Do not stir once this has been placed on the heat. As particles form on the sides, use the pastry brush, dipped in clean water, to brush down the sides.
The optimal temperature for hard crack sugar is 375F. Because the sugar will continue to heat itself off the burner, you should take it off the heat about 350F or when you see the sugar start to caramelize to a light golden brown color. The color will get much darker, but be careful that it doesn’t go too far and give a burnt taste. While you are waiting for the right temperature, spray surface and shapes you will be using with food release spray, liberally.
Move pan to your work area, placing on a heat-resistant surface. Using a fork, dribble the sugar back and forth across the bowl shape in all directions so that it will hold that shape once cooled.
For corkscrews, use a spoon and dribble sugar along shape, spinning it so that it makes the desired shape.
When the sugar has cooled on the shape, it should slide off easily because of the food release spray. You will want to work quickly so that the sugar does not cool down so much it can’t be dropped in even strings.
The way you clean up is very important. Because of the nature of the sugar, if you were to pour hot, liquefied sugar down the drain, it would cool and harden in the pipes. This will clog and be very difficult to clean out. You must dilute the sugar in a lot of water before discarding. In a large stock pot, place your sauce pan and other items that have sugar stuck to them. Boil in water until they are clean. This water can then safely be put down the drain.