Chapter 3 : Basic Ingredients in Candy Making

There are literally dozensof ingredients that can be used to make exquisite homemade candies. But there are certain ingredients that are considered foundational or essential to almost all types of candy:

1. Sugar

Sugar, the greatest sweetener in the natural world, is considered the base ingredient of candy and sets the sweet tone for the entire confectionery.

Whether you are pouring chocolate blocks or chewy caramel, sugar (in its many forms) is the deciding factor, since the sweetness of candy is the first thing that people detect when they eat candy.

There are two main types of sweeteners: solid sweeteners and liquid sweeteners. Solid sweeteners include granulated sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, etc. Liquid sweeteners include corn syrup and natural honey.

The use of these sweeteners depends on what the candy recipe requires. Since you are just starting out with your candy making adventures, we recommend that you do not substitute sweeteners; e.g. if a recipe requires granulated sugar, don’t use corn syrup.

2. Milk-based ingredients

When you see a recipe that has ‘cream’ listed in it ingredients, you can be sure that the recipe is a dairy candy recipe and will rely heavily on the texture and taste of the cream. The butterfat content of cream used for confectionery is normally within the 10% to 40% range.

Other dairy-based ingredients often used in making confectioneries include:

  • Evaporated milk
  • Butter
  • Condensed milk

Other recipes may call for the use of sweetened versions of these dairy ingredients.

3. Nuts

Who can forget the texture and flavor that nuts bestow on almost every kind of candy? Nuts usually set the middle note or middle flavor of candy. Since nuts have a slightly dominant flavor, people are more selective of candy with nuts.  People usually have a favorite type.

The most popular types of nuts used for making candy are pecans, almonds, macadamia, and cashew nuts.

Many candy makers add nuts to add that much-needed crunch to a soft candy. The harmony of the sweet ingredients and the light flavor of nuts also add to the overall experience of consuming candy.

4. Chocolate

Probably the most popular confectionery in the world, chocolate holds an esteemed place in the world of candy- making. It is delicate, flavorful, and quite possibly the most nutrient-packed candy ingredient around.

When purchasing chocolate for candy making, there are two components that you should keep in mind: the range of the chocolate and the quality.

The range of the chocolate refers to the different versions of the original cocoa-derived product. For instance, you have pure white chocolate, dark chocolate and midrange chocolates.

Quality often refers to the natural butter content of the chocolate. High quality chocolate easily melts in your hands - a sure sign that the chocolate has a high butter content.

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