Sweets look scary to make, but they are relatively easy – they’re just a bit tricky to handle because of the high heat and the speed at which you have to work.
- Be careful!! You are dealing with VERY hot sugar which loves to stick to skin. Use the silicon mats to maipulate the sugar and wear rubber gloves. You can still get a heat blister through gloves if you handle it too quickly or don’t treat it with ‘respect’.
- Common sense should prevail: have everything to hand and give yourself some room so there is no chance of knocking anything over. Do not have small children anywhere near.
- A couple of silicon mats are essential, as is a pair of (very clean/new) rubber gloves.
- You can’t do this without a sugar thermometer and a medium-size heavy bottom pan.
- You can re-warm any cooled off sugar in the microwave – but it only takes about 4 to 5 seconds in total (and do this in 2 second increments). Don’t leave it for longer or you’ll have a pool of molten, skin-searing lava in the bottom of your microwave.
- Pans and utensils will clean easily if you leave them to soak – it’s only sugar after all and will dissolve given a bit of time.
- Medium heavy bottomed saucepan
- Sugar thermometer (I actually use two – a traditional one and a digital probe)
- Two silicon mats
- Thick rubber gloves – clean ones (I suggest using them straight out of the packet and then just keeping them for confectionary and NOT cleaning)
- Weighing scales, spatula
- Natural orange flavour – 1 tablespoon (I recommend Neilson-Massey)
- Glucose – 50 ml
- Sugar – 250g (granulated is fine)
- Water – 100ml
- Orange gel food colouring
- Fix your sugar thermometer to your pan and have all your ingredients and equipment to hand – once you start working on this, it is very quick
- Fill your washing up bowl with cold water – you will need it to plunge the base of the saucepan into later
- Put the glucose, sugar and water in the pan and bring to the boil – do not stir
- When the sugar reaches 120C add in the natural essence – careful as it might spit a little
- Let the syrup continue to boil until it reaches 160 – 162C
- Take the saucepan off the heat and plunge the base into the sink full of water. NOTE: do not let the water get into the pan
- Pour 3/4 of the syrup onto one silicon mat and the rest onto the other (don’t panic if your mat buckles under the heat: it will be OK)
- Drip a few drops of your food colouring onto the larger amount of sugar
- Put your gloves on
- Leave for about 20 – 30 seconds and then using the silicon mat itself start to push the sugar together. The silicon mat is an excellent way to manipulate the hot sugar until you can pick it up with your gloved hands
- Once you can start to handle it, stretch and pull the uncoloured sugar until it starts to go opaque and mould into a fat sausage shape. ‘Wrap’ it as best as possible in the silicon mat to keep it warm
- Mix the orange coloured sugar together until it is even and also shape into a fat sausage
- Pull the uncoloured sugar into a long strand and fix one end to the end of the orange sugar by pressing it on. Drag and pull the uncoloured sugar along the length of the orange, up and down making long lines all around it (ie don’t just put it down one side)
- If the sugar starts getting cold and brittle pop it in a microwave for 2 seconds at a time. Do NOT go over this or you are at risk of being burnt!! If 2 seconds isn’t enough, try another two – don’t be tempted to put it in and leave it for longer. It should only need a max of 4 – 5 seconds to warm through again
- Once the sugar ‘strands’ are done, pull the whole lump of sugar into a long sausage, about 1cm in diameter
- Roll it on the table to get it into a cylinder (as pulling may have flattened it a bit)
- Snip off 1 – 2cm pieces of sugar (You may want to warm the scissors under a hot tap, but dry them throughly, to stop the sweets cracking as you cut)
- Leave the sweets to cool completely then store in a glass jar