The basics of cooking with sugar:Many of the recipes in The Green Chronicle require cooking with sugar; for example toffee and boiled candies, where the sugar has to be taken to a very high temperature in order to make it set to a particular consistency. On the face of it this may seem relatively simple, but in practice it can be very difficult unless you are familiar with certain principles and techniques:
Please remember that you need to be very careful when heating sugar in this way. Often when sugar looks cool it can in fact still be very hot. As in all forms of cooking where high temperatures are involved exercise great caution.
1/. Use a heavy bottomed pan.
2/. Make sure the pan is large. It must be big enough to accommodate the rising sugar when it boils up.
3/. Use a wooden spoon.
4/. Before the mixture begins to boil, make sure that all the sugar is dissolved. At this stage, stir very gently.
5/. Use a damp pastry brush to knock any sugar crystals on the side of the pan back into the mixture.
6/. Occasionally remove the pan from the heat and tap the bottom with the wooden spoon to help any remaining sugar crystals dissolve.
7/. Do not agitate the pan. Rather than swirl the syrup to help dissolve the remaining crystals, use the method in number 6.
8/. Once all the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and do not stir any more (unless the recipe particularly states that you should).
9/. Bring the sugar to an even, rolling boil, keeping the heat constant until the required temperature is reached.
To test the temperature of the syrup
Drop half a teaspoon of the syrup into a saucer of cold water. You will observe one of the following depending on the temperature reached:
Smooth(102-104 degrees Centigrade) (see conversions)
The syrup is sticky but disperses when dropped in the water.
Soft Ball(113-118 degrees Centigrade)
A soft ball which loses its shape when removed from the water.
Hard Ball(118-130 degrees Centigrade)
Forms a ball which does not lose shape when removed from the water.
Soft Crack(132-143 degrees Centigrade)
Syrup separates into hard threads.
Hard Crack(149-154 degrees Centigrade)
Brittle threads form.
Caramel(174 degrees Centigrade)
Syrup turns golden brown.
Much above the caramel stage will result in burning! Alternatively to check on the temperature buy a sugar thermometer.