Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Salt Water Taffy, Take 1

After procuring glycerin at the local health food store, it was time to try to make some salt water taffy. My brother agreed to help. I won't post the recipe here, because it didn't really work out. I combined three recipes--two from candy cookbooks and one that I dug up at The Exploratorium, not exactly known for its culinary excellence.

I think there were a couple of problems. First off, you need a lot of flavoring to overpower the super gross flavor of glycerin. We tried vanilla and lemon. The lemon was more successful because it had more flavoring, but I could really taste the glycerin in both and it was gross.

That was a secondary problem, really. The primary problem was that I overheated the sugar. Recipes call for the mixture to be heated to soft crack stage (270 F). I was using two candy thermometers, a good one and, as it turns out, a very bad one. The bad one was telling me that the temperature was lower than it actually was, while the higher one was right on target. I let the mixture get much too hot by basically averaging the thermometer readings… the mixture definitely made it to hard crack stage (300 F), or close. I was also testing the mixture in cold water. The problem with that was that the mixture never got completely hard in water— it the glycerin meant it was always a little gooey. The result was candy that we could stretch, but not cut. Because it had glycerin, it wasn't completely hard, but it was hard enough to pull out a tooth if you tried to chew it.

We got some great pictures though! I'm not sure if I'll try to make this salt water taffy again, but I might be tempted to try again with a molasses or brown sugar based recipe. Those always tasted better anyway, and I think would help with the glycerin flavor problem. Below and above are images of what most of the final batch looked like--hard to cut, greasy and, eventually, brittle.

1 comment:

kittenfactory said...

Are there any photos involving this elusive brother character?