House-made candy adds a unique element to your dessert menu and bakery case. When you create your own product for sale, you increase the opportunity to change your inventory. This allows you to cater to trends, demand and overall customer satisfaction. In fact, many customers today are looking for unique and specialty items when they go out to eat. According to the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, U.S. retail and foodservice sales of specialty foods and beverages rose 6.9 percent in 2011, topping $75 billion.
In order to add this fun and house-made element to your menu, you’ll need the right tools. Let’s take a look the candy making essentials that will get you on the sweet path to success.
Candy thermometers are a must for any candy maker. These thermometers are specifically designed to measure high temperatures up to 550°F. This is because candy thermometers are used to test the temperature of boiling sugar during the candy-making process.
To properly use a candy thermometer, it must first be calibrated. Because the thermometer will be measuring ingredients at very high temperatures, you need to calibrate the thermometer at the water’s boiling point. Boiling points vary by elevation, so it is important to pay attention to your kitchen’s elevation below, at or above sea level before determining the exact temperature for calibration. This chart shows the different boiling temperatures for altitudes ranging from 1000 feet below sea level to 30,000 feet above sea level. Although the odds of a chef calibrating a thermometer at the more extreme depths and heights are unlikely, it’s still a handy and fun chart to keep around.
There is a second technique to calibrating a thermometer and it requires calibrating at the thermometer’s freezing point. Check out the video below to see how this is done.
To add a little extra oomph into your candy making skill set, use a sugar pump to blow sugar into creative shapes. Your sugar art can top off your candied treats or serve as a decorative show piece for cakes or display cases. Some fun blown sugar ideas have included apples filled with chocolate mousse, a red onion filled with goat cheese and caramelized onions and even cupcake toppers shaped as planets!
To properly blow sugar, a chef will need a few more tools in addition to the sugar pump. These tools include, a candy thermometer, pastry mat, pastry brush, metal spatula, thick disposable gloves, heat lamp and kitchen torch.
Divider rulers, also called candy rulers or confectionery rulers, allow candy makers to create uniform thickness within a caramel, chocolate or ganache. Divider rulers are easy to use and indispensable for chefs who need to obtain consistency throughout their recipe.
To use a divider ruler to make caramel, simply position them in a square pattern on a pastry mat that is preferably placed on marble. Pour the prepared and still hot caramel between the rulers and allow the caramel to set overnight. Check out this great article on how to make chocolate caramels with your divider ruler.
There is a great variety of molds available to assist chefs with getting the right shape and size for each piece of candy. These options include Valentine candy molds, fruit-shaped jellied candy molds, basic-shaped candy molds, hemisphere molds and pyramid molds.
Silicone and metal molds can be placed in the oven, freezer or left at room temperature. These versatile molds allow chefs to create tiny, but treasured, treats for customers. Silicone molds are non-stick and very easy to clean.
(Cool Tip! Freeze your candies before dipping them in to the hot dipping chocolate. This will prevent the candies from melting into the chocolate, thus keeping the mixture pure and ready for the next batch of candies.)
Chocolate Dipping Forks
Chocolate dipping forks are used for multiple candy recipes including chocolate-covered nuts, truffles or anything else that is dipped and coated in hot, liquid chocolate. Chocolate fork sets include forks with various shapes for the different shapes and sizes of your ingredients. The ends of these forks are typically round, oval, fork shaped or spiral. The variety of how the end is shaped allows you to keep different types of candy secure while dipping them in chocolate.
Enjoy a creative and cost-effective candy making process with the right equipment in place. Stock up on the essentials and sweeten up your menu with house-made confections for every occasion.