LEHI The secret to successful candy lies in owning a good candy thermometer and recognizing that Utah is a long ways above sea level.
So says an expert whose heritage is in candymaking.
(Susan LaHargoue's grandmother was a legend in chocolate dipping, a woman who made candy for 60 years and was still dipping chocolates at 93.
Her aunt, Pauline H. Atkinson, wrote a candymaking bible.
LaHargoue teaches candymaking at the Kitchen Emporium at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.)
"If you invest in a good thermometer, everything else will work out OK," LaHargoue said. "And remember that every recipe in a book is written at sea level. We're very high here in Utah. You need to get a pan of water every time and when it boils see what it says, then deduct about 10 degrees."
(A chart in most candy recipe books will list exactly how many degrees to subtract.)
Depending on the barometric pressure and the season, the water will boil at varying degrees from day to day.
It's also a good idea to have a deep, heavy saucepan for cooking the candy and a good, silicone spatula to stir with.
A scale helps so chocolate can be weighed accurately, and granite or marble countertops work nicely for a place to pour fondant that needs to cool.
LaHargoue also showed off a laser thermometer that can register the candy's temperature in a single shot.
Other tips included:
• Whipped cream and butter can be bought on sale and frozen until needed, saving money and trips to the store.
• Don't skimp when making candy, use full measures.
• Add all the liquids first to avoid sugaring the sides of a saucepan.
• Too much movement can make candy go grainy.
• Don't give up on fondant that's set up too hard or not enough. It can be reheated. Add a cup of water to hardened fondant.
• Be patient with caramel. It has to caramelize so it takes a long while.
• In between batches, cool the granite/marble countertop with bags of ice.Here are some of LaHargoue's aunt's recipes:
Hot Fudge Sauce
(Can be served over ice cream or poured into small jars for Christmas gifts.)
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk not quite the whole can
1/2 cup real butter
3 1-oz. squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups sugar
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine milk, butter, chocolate and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil until mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cook 20 minutes before using. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups sauce.
Peanut Butter Fudge/Fondant
1 1/4 cups milk
1/8 cup light corn syrup
1/8 cup butter
pinch of baking soda
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cups creamy or chunky peanut butter
Set aside a 9x13-inch ungreased baking pan. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper, set aside. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine milk, corn syrup, butter, baking soda and sugars. Place over medium-high heat and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil.Clip on candy thermometer. Stirring constantly, Cook to 234 degrees (adjust for sea level). Pour without scraping into cold baking pan (or onto a granite or marble slab). Cool until bottom of pan feels warm but not hot. Using a wooden spoon, stir in peanut butter, vanilla and nuts. Continue stirring until mixture becomes creamy and begins to lose its gloss. Scrape fudge onto the sheet of waxed paper and spread one inch thick. When firm, cut into 1-inch squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 75 pieces.