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gfron1

Confections burn before hard crack

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I know this is altitude but very often my sugar candies will start to smell burnt before I get to 300ºF.  Today I was making horehound candies and the burned at 250º.  I could bring down my heat but then I never seem to get to temp.  And my pan is heavy aluminum not copper.  I work on coiled electric primarily.  And they aren't done cooking...like this batch isn't setting up properly.  Suggestions?

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How big of a batch are you making, and is your room cold? With big batches sometimes you get different temperature zones in the pot. Kind of like trying to make a huge vat of rice and the bottom burns before the top is cooked. (thus the reason why we use steam jacketed kettles)

 

Also, look at your sugar, if you still have the bag. Does it say 'sugar' or 'cane sugar'?  Oftentimes beet sugar is in the generically marked bags and it can give odd results.

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250F is only firm-hard ball, shouldn't be coloring much less burning.  Is there some hypersensitive ingredient that you could be adding later in the process instead of cooking with the sugar? 

 

Sometimes I get some scorching on the bubbled up sugar on the sides of the pan, but I figure that is due to the gas flame coming up the sides and shouldn't happen on electric.

 

Hmmm.

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In no particular order...

-definitely cane sugar

-Small batch - say around a pound

-Thermometers are fine because I always use two...I'm my mother's untrusting son

-No citric acid, and different recipes.  Today's was pretty simple: sugar, corn syrup, infused water

-My room is definitely not cold - its my regular restaurant kitchen so if anything its hot.

 

Again, I'm pretty sure this is just altitude but a 50º difference is pretty severe.  I'm at 6000'

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Can you try starting with plain water, and using reduced/strong infused water after pulling off the heat? That way you're sure nothing in the infusion is burning. Also, you might try an alcohol infusion, once again adding after.

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I infused horehound into the water for the infusion.  Good idea Lisa.

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Has you attempts at making boiled sugar been only involving infused water? Like Lisa suggested, boil a batch plain and see if you get the same result, just to narrow things down. However, if you add the infused water after boiling is complete, i cant imagine that the flavor would be strong, not to mention your candies would get sticky very easily and crystallize quickly from the excess water. Your boiling the sugar to high temps to remove virtually all the water, and you'll probably get an undesired result from adding water back into the sugar after its taken off the heat. Are you able to get a horehound oil?

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You can add water to sugar after it's boiled, as long as it's a small quantity and the sugar is still hot -that's how you color hard candy.

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I know that you can add a small amount of water right after and itll bubble and boil away, but flavoring a hard candy with a flavored water isnt really the best way to go, either the flavor will be very light, or you'll want to add more and end up adding too much water. Even using an extract is doable, but not really the most practical, since it has such a high water content. When I do hard candies, especially for events, I use paste colors that dont have any water or acid in them. I dont mind using typical food colorants in other things like marshmallow or taffy, since those things have a moisture content. I think im probably just overly paranoid when it comes to pulled sugar candies, there's nothing I hate more then sticky hard candies :-)

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