For a long time I was thinking of trying to make homemade candies. I admit that this whole process puzzled me; thermometers, very high temperatures and some degree of difficulty. Finally, I recently decided to try it and after I burnt the candy a couple of times, I managed to make these homemade cough candies, with lemon and ginger!
The ingredients are simple: lemon, ginger, honey, and sugar. The lemon adds Vitamin C, honey is soothing, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and strengthens the immune system. As for the sugar … it makes the candies! Let’s make homemade cough candies without the taste of the medicine!
I have read many posts on the internet, which were numerous and had completely different information and advice. Most of those were more confusing rather than facilitating. That’s why I throw away many candies until I succeed … and I washed many times the pot with burnt caramel … believe me it is not that pleasant! The most useful and clear information I got from the book “SugarBaby” of Gesine Bullock-Prado, which I remembered a little too late that I have in my library. I am very forgetful lately …
Well take some notes:
- The candy thermometer is an essential tool in this recipe (as well as patience!). And if you decide to get involved with candy, this is an expense that you must do. In a rough survey I did on the internet I saw that there are some candy thermometers at quite reasonable prices. There is no need to spend much to buy one. And because caramel needs only a click to burn, we must make sure that the thermometer is working properly, so you need to calibrate it by putting it in a pot of boiling water. The water boils at 100 ° C (212o F) at sea level (as the altitude increases the boiling temperature drops). If the thermometer shows that temperature when put in boiling water, it works correctly. If not, you need to calculate the difference every time you use it. Two or three degrees can make a difference and destroy the caramel.
- Use a pot with a thick bottom. Also, keep in mind that the mixture almost doubles as the temperature rises, so use a big one.
- We make our candy over medium heat. Not high, or medium-high, as I read in many posts (I told you about the results). Just medium heat.
- Use a wooden spoon. It doesn’t melt and it can be cleaned much more easily.
- At first the temperature of the mixture rises slowly. From the 121o C (250o F) the temperature rises very quickly. Be ready!
- The candy is hot! Very hot! You should be very cautious when it has reached the desired temperature, and should be put in the molds. Also, you must be quick, because the temperature drops very quickly and the caramel thickens, especially if the room temperature is low. It helped much to throw the caramel first in a Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring spout and then fill the molds. But this means that you have to be even faster. You should have warmed the measuring cup before you pour in the caramel, so the temperature doesn’t drop quickly.
- Probably you will have seen that there are special silicone molds for candies in the stores. You can buy them if you like. But there are other ways: if you have silicone ice cube trays, use these to start, unless the size is not convenient. I used such heart shape molds (nothing to do with Valentine’s Day!). Sprinkle the molds with a mixture of powdered sugar and cornstarch before you pour in the hot caramel. With the same mixture you can make impromptu molds. Mix enough icing sugar and corn flour, pour the mixture into a baking pan and with the help of a spoon, do small puddles, the one next to the other. I found very handy for this job the round scoop of ½ teaspoon (see photo). This way you have uniform molds, from scratch. Finally, the simplest and fastest way is to pour small amounts of caramel on a surface covered with greaseproof paper. Clearly, this way you do not have a uniform shape and I guess it takes you more time since, while trying to give a round shape to your candies the rest of the caramel cools down and thickens. I used all three ways. I wouldn’t recommend the later, especially for beginners. Whichever way you use, prepare them all before starting your caramel. You will not have time afterwards.
- Moisture is the enemy of candy! It can destroy it. That’s why when you leave your candy to cool, make sure that the area is not humid. (For example, do not boil greens as candies cool in the kitchen …… It will stick and you would not know what went wrong!! I speak from experience!)
- Store your candy in a box or jar and sprinkle with sugar-cornstarch mixture or plain icing sugar to prevent sticking.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Servings: about 40 candies
- 170 g. (6oz) fresh ginger, crushed by a heavy object, to release its juices
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 190 g. (6.7oz) sugar
- 180 g. (6.3oz) honey
- Put the ginger in a saucepan and add enough water to cover it. Bring it to boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain well and hold one cup of liquid.
- Prepare molds.
- In a large pot with a thick bottom, over medium heat, add 1 cup the ginger liquid, sugar and honey.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. With a wet cooking brush, scrape the sides of the pan to melt the sugar crystals that may have formed.
- When the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring, place the thermometer in the pot and allow the mixture to reach the 138o C (280o F).
- Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to the mold as quickly as possible (see notes).
- Allow candies to cool for several hours, or overnight. Sprinkle with icing sugar and store in an airtight container.
Clearly, these few efforts do not make me an expert in caramel. This is what I found through my failures, mainly. Any advice or points are more than welcome.I hope these tips I give you will help you and answer some of your questions, so you may attempt it yourselves. I know the whole process might seem very difficult to you. Caramel, though, is very charming!
Nutritional Facts per Serving
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