Chapter 7 : Liquid Sweeteners

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is an essential liquid sweetener because it is often the central ingredient in many candy recipes (rock candies, etc.).

In addition to its ability to sweeten a large batch of candy, corn syrup is also used by confectionery makers because it regulates the graining of candy. If there is too much graining in the candy, the usual result is rough or gritty candy. Some crunch is necessary, but too much crunch can reduce the quality of a batch.

Another important function of corn syrup is preservation. Many candies have corn syrup at its very core because the corn syrup actually helps keep the candy fresh.

Some chemical properties of corn syrup prevent the overgrowth of bacteria, which can easily feed on the high sugar content of confectionery. This is one of the reasons why well-made candies can stay fresh for long periods of time. 

Now, when you set out to buy corn syrup for your first candy recipe, you will most likely come across two kinds – the light variety and the dark variety. These syrups differ only in the species of corn that was used to produce the corn syrup. Other than this, the sugar content is fairly similar.

The type of corn syrup that you will be using for candy making depends on what a recipe calls for. Many confectionery makers prefer light corn syrup because the color of the sweetener has an impact on the color of the final product.

Now, if you plan on making caramels at home, it should be noted that caramels are made with equal amounts of corn syrup (dark, usually) and regular table sugar.

Once you have successfully cooked your first batch of caramels at home, you can try this small experiment: try adding a bit more corn syrup to the batch than usual. Retain the same amount of table sugar, but add more corn syrup.

This slight twist in making caramels has some benefits:

1. Additional corn syrup content in caramels adds a stronger ‘bite’ or flavor, which people simply love.

2. People usually prefer smoother caramels – and this can be achieved easily by causing a slight imbalance between the sugar content and corn syrup content.

Don’t add too much corn syrup though, as too much of this liquid sweetener can make the final product much too sticky.


Honey is nature’s natural liquid sweetener and is also a natural food preservative. When corn syrup is not available, fresh honey can usually be substituted without sacrificing any sweetness or flavor.

The only downside perhaps to using honey is that the final product is usually softer than a batch made with corn syrup.

If you wish to use honey instead of corn syrup, use a 1:1 ratio (e.g. if a candy recipe requires a cup of corn syrup, use a cup of honey as well).

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