the appetizer:

Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar by Gesine Bullock-Prado, includes recipes like Rock Candy; Candy Corn; and The Sugar, Baby! (Caramel Lollipops).


The Sugar, Baby!

Makes 25 lollipops.

The Sugar, Baby!


Cross a rock-hard candy with a caramel and you've got the ne plus ultra, in my humble opinion, of candy. If you need a comparative treat to help you wrap your head around this deliciousness, think of a Sugar Daddy. There's nothing like that chewy sugar lockjaw, that mercury-filling-extracting, unintentionally drool-producing goodness. Don't even think about biting down on this when it's first introduced into your mouth; just let it ride around a bit until it relents just enough for you to get your chew on. The beauty of this treat is that it works just as well as a lollipop as it does as a single-wrap candy. And you can mix it up with an array of delightful infusions to enjoy while your teeth are fused together by that supreme sugar fixative that is The Sugar, Baby!

Sugar  2 cups  400 g
Corn syrup  1 cup  240 ml
Salt  1 teaspoon  6 g
Heavy cream  1/2 cup  120 ml
Vanilla bean paste  1 tablespoon  15 ml
Unsalted butter  3/4 cup  170 g

1. In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, warm the sugar, corn syrup, and salt, stirring until the sugar has melted.

2. Raise the heat to medium-high and clip on a candy thermometer. Heat to 310 degrees F (154 degrees C).

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cream and the vanilla paste and stir until they just begin to simmer. You can also microwave the two in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Keep warm.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches temperature, turn off the heat and add the warm cream mixture. The addition of the cream will cause the caramel to bubble vigorously, so step back until the caramel storm has passed. If the temperature of the mixture has dipped below 275 degrees F (135 degrees C), warm the caramel mixture until you reach that temperature.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, stirring constantly until it is completely melted and has emulsified.

6. Pour the caramel into 25 square silicone molds sprayed with nonstick spray. Let the caramel stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. While the caramel is still warm and malleable but beginning to firm, insert a lollipop stick in each mold. Allow the caramel to cool completely and then gently coax the lollies out. One trick is to pop the silicone molds in the freezer for a minute; this will help the lollipops come out quite easily. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Before we continue into what will be the hottest portion of our adventures in sweetness, I'd like to bring up a very sticky topic: moisture. Even if you've never thought about working with sugar, you've probably heard the candy maker's axiom, "Don't make candy when it's humid." Since sugar work entails the elimination of moisture, boiling down the granulated stuff on a sweltering, thunderstorm-addled summer day isn't the best idea. It's not that you can't get the thermometer to read the right temperature; it's just that the air around you is so damn saturated with H20 that the second you pour a nougat, a toffee, a brittle, or a honeycomb into its waiting container, the confection that just a moment ago promised to be hardcrack is now taking a nice schvitz in a summer sauna and will probably never set. This is especially true of extremely aerated treats like honeycomb and sponge candy, where all those lovely air pockets that are meant to keep the candy light and crunchy transform into secret passageways for moisture to invade the inner sanctum of crispy deliciousness, leaving you with a soggy blob. Or you'll find that your gummis and nougat never set. Be thoughtful about when you make candy; don't sabotage yourself. Store your finished product in airtight containers and keep them in a dry place—the fridge might seem like a logical candy hideout, but many fridges are havens for excess moisture.


A Note from the Sugar Baby: I've got nothing but love for the incessant crop of novelty ice-cube trays crowding the clearance shelves of big-box stores, because they make fantastic lollipop molds. And nothing makes a better lolli than The Sugar, Baby! Have lollipop sticks ready, and once you've poured the mixture into the cavities, wait a few minutes for the mixture to harden just a touch so that the lollipop sticks stay firmly in place without leaning. Allow to cool completely before extracting from the silicone.


Option 1: Chocolate

When you add the butter to the hot caramel in step 5, throw in 1/4 cup (30 g) bittersweet chocolate morsels! Proceed as if nothing unusual has happened.

Option 2: Lime-Tequila

Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lime oil and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) tequila to the sugar ingredients in step 1, leave out the vanilla in step 3, and proceed with the recipe.

Option 3: Caramel Apples

Take 8 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, and wash and dry them very well. Remove the stem from each and insert a stick where the sun don't shine. Just after you've added the butter in step 5 and while the caramel is still hot, dip each apple into the caramel and swirl it to cover the flesh completely. Remove the apple and hold it over the pot to allow any excess caramel to drip off. Transfer the apple to a piece of nonstick-sprayed parchment to cool. To add a little oomph to your apple, dip the bottom in chopped dry-roasted peanuts just after you've taken the apple from its caramel bath.


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This page created September 2011