I need some advice on a safe(ish), easy, and fast way to cut buttermints I often make buttermints for friends for the holidays, and have run into problems cutting them into bite size pieces before the sugar cools and starts to crystallize too much, so I'm looking for ideas on how to do it more quickly so I can do larger batches. Note that I am doing this at home and have very little budget, but on the plus side I don't need to end up with perfectly uniform pieces.
The basic process for making the buttermints is:
1. cook butter and sugar to 260 degrees
2. pour out onto buttered marble slab and let cool slightly
3. add color and flavor, and pull like taffy while it cools further
4. when it just starts to show signs of crystallizing, roll into ropes and cut before it crystallizes much further (I have maybe 2 minutes if I'm lucky to get all the cutting done)
The main problem I run into is that when handling the candy during steps 3 and 4, my hands need to be buttered so the candy doesn't stick to me, and even if I quickly wash my hands, any cutting tool needs to also be buttered to prevent sticking, and basically it's nearly impossible to maintain a good grip on anything. The second problem is that the candy at this point is hard enough that if I try to snip it with scissors it will tend to slide along the blade instead of getting cut, yet it is still plastic enough that if I pick it up it will tend to sag under its weight and thin out too much while I'm concentrating on getting the scissors to cut right. My best results so far have been with leaving the candy on the marble and cutting it with a pastry scraper, but pressing down hard enough to cut all the way through with a slippery (due to the aforementioned buttered hands) pastry scraper while trying not to gouge the marble underneath is not particularly fun. I did try pruning shears once because the curved blade holds the candy in place instead of sliding along the blade, which worked fine except for the fear of lopping off parts of a finger made it too nerve-wracking to be done quickly.
Basically, I'd love to find something that works like this, but for something with the consistency of a hard caramel: