Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Tag: cream candy

There is Definitely a Candy Goddess

I wish to taste the sweetness of life; I wish to have the sugar speak for me…

No historical recipe interests and challenges me more than Cream Candy.

In a previous post I alluded to its lure: provocative in texture with a fineness of interior.  What went unsaid is the utter madness I feel in trying to perfect it… hell, in just trying to execute it… without failure.

Not every failed recipe attempt is my fault, though it feels like it’s my fault. The cream candy recipe I first came in contact with was completely non-standardized. Three ingredients cooked to some nameless temperature, the successful texture of which could only be vaguely described as a blob sinking or swimming in a cup of cold water with some sort of visual appropriateness. No blame on my shoulders here; old recipes had no standardization, and I knew that going in.

It gets so much worse. When I then have the courage to pour the nameless, formless, colorless mass out onto a marble slab or a frozen sheet pan (did I mention without touching or stirring), I stare at it in guarded horror as if it might either take wing or eat a hole through the table. That’s because I know what’s next.

The candy-in-waiting must be pulled and pulled until one moment before my arms fall off. Preferably in cold weather. With zero humidity in the atmosphere. In Portland. There is definitely a Candy Goddess, and she’s laughing her ass off.

At this stage, one of two things happens. Either the pulled candy mixture seizes without the slightest warning which is my most common outcome, or it doesn’t which means I still have at least one more chance to ruin it.  In the confectioner’s playbook, I’m supposed to pull it into strings of similar circumference, then cut it into bite-sized pieces to “cream” overnight. Only once have I gotten that far. It was the time I had first degree burns on my fingertips from picking the hot mixture up too soon, so I was salving my fingers as I congratulated myself.

If the end product weren’t so damned good, so exceptional, so unlike anything else in the marketplace, I’d have long ago dropped it like a prom dress.

Anyway, simplicity does not equal success. Effort does not equal success.  I’ve also noticed that whining and swearing have not yet equaled success.

So, this is a great little recipe to chronicle. I can promise you (and myself) a roller coaster ride, but I’m determined to be crowned Cream Candy Lady. I guess aloe vera can be considered a business expense.

I wish to have the sugar speak for me…

Confectionery Balance Brought Forward

Depositphotos_51227611_sKnowing my interest in quality confectionery of the past, a friend kindly let me page through two cookbooks from the early 20th century belonging to her grandmother.

Excusing the kid in the candy store metaphor, I found three recipes I can’t wait to work with.

Quality pics that truly represent these confections are rare.  Nonetheless, here’s a visual inDepositphotos_51227621_s narrative:

  • Cream Candy. Also, a family recipe of mine. The surprising juxtaposition of a cooked and pulled sugar-and-cream confection that melts in your mouth in a way no other candy does. Exacting to make. Provocative in texture; with a fineness of interior. Vanilla. Maple. Peppermint. Nothing like it in the marketplace.
  • Coconut Squares, Balls. The rich, chewy substance of coconut is refined with glucose and butter. Dipped in bittersweet chocolate. Delectable. The star of a dessert tray.
  • Opera Creams.  A Cincinnati influence is at work here. History says Cincinnati Opera patrons were treated to opera creams before performances. The velvety texture of soft vanilla cream is offset with dark chocolate of very high contrast and quality. It has no equal.

Each is more than worth the time, effort and patience required to refine and perfect. Experimentation in itself is pleasureful… shepherding ingredients into that which they can become.

Opera Creams

(reprinted as written from Lee’s Priceless Recipes, 1895)

Two pounds white sugar, 3/4 pint cow’s cream, boil to a soft ball; set off; add 2 ounces glucose; set on. Stir easy until it commences to boil, then pour out; let get 3/4 cold and stir it until it turns into a cream; then work into it 2 tablespoons vanilla; line a pan with waxed paper, flatten the batch in it, and mark it in squares. Set aside 2 hours to harden.

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