Hard candy is closely associated with important occasions that usually stir memories of childhood nostalgia or just happy days for those with a sweet tooth. Hard candy is of course not just for children and many interesting flavours and formulations of hard candy exist. For the adventurous melting hard candy provides another way to enjoy the confectionery stalwart and make some magical creations from it. The trouble is melting hard candy is not so easy. Despite the variety of options for melting hard candy, you need to take great care to get the right results. Let’s discuss what qualifies as hard candy.
Hard candy is a boiled sweet produced from almost 100% sugar. Hard candy is created by boiling a sugar-based syrup at a temperature of 160 degrees Celsius. Popular examples of hard candy include lollipops, candy canes and twisted candy. Hard candy can be made from syrups that consist of glucose, sucrose, fructose and other sugars. Most hard candy types will also contain food dye or colourant and some flavouring to give you a variety of tastes. The exact origins of hard candy are unknown but it is believed to have found popularity in the 16th century when commercial confectionery started to gain popularity. Hard candy has very little moisture so you will find it is very difficult to melt. The high sugar content also means that if it is exposed to high and direct heat the sugar can easily caramelise and burn. Hard candy is not just used for confectionery but also medicinal purposes in the form of lozenges and throat remedies.
Melting Hard Candy On The Stove
There are two ways to melt candy on the stovetop the first of which is using a saucepan. It’s best to use this method if you have a thick saucepan or don’t have a double boiler. First, you have to place the hard candy in a plastic food bag, preferably a resealable bag. Using a rolling pin or a mallet crush the hard candy until they break down into smaller pieces. The purpose of breaking up the candy is to make the melting process easier. Smaller pieces will melt faster. Add the hard candy to a thick-bottomed saucepan. Using a low to medium heat setting on the stove start to melt the candy. As soon as you see the signs of the candy melting start to stir the candy gently so it doesn’t settle. Stirring will also help the hard candy to melt evenly. From the point where the hard candy starts to melt it should take around 5 minutes for it to melt completely. Remove the candy from the stove as soon as all pieces have melted completely and use the candy straight away.
Melting Hard Candy In The Oven
Another method of melting hard candy is to melt it in the oven. This is best if you want to make candy crystals or mosaic candy. To pull this method off successfully you will need baking paper, an oven tray and shape tins if you just want the candy to harden into the desired shape. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius. If you intend to melt the hard candy to fill a particular shape you should preheat to 180 degrees Celsius. 150 degrees Celsius is the best temperature to melt hard candy at without getting any scorching in the oven. Line a baking or oven tray with baking paper or aluminium foil. Make sure that the foil paper or baking paper covers the sides of baking tray in case the candy melts and flows to the sides of the tray. Now take the hard candy and put it in a resealable plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or mallet crush the hard candy into smaller pieces. Place the pieces of hard candy on the foil or baking paper. If you are melting them into the desired shape place them directly in the cookie-cutter or shape. You will need to have the candy in the oven for between 5 and 7 minutes for it to completely melt. So set a timer to 5 minutes and once it goes off keep a close eye on the candy. The moment the candy starts to bubble you can take it out the oven straight away. Do not leave it any longer as you are likely to get scorching.
Melting Hard Candy In a Double Boiler
You can also melt your hard candy in a double boiler if you have one and this is the preferred method to the saucepan method if you don’t have a thick based saucepan you can trust. Prepare the hard candy by crushing it in a plastic bag using a mallet or a rolling pin. In the bigger of your double boiler pots bring water to the boil. Once the water reaches boiling point reduce to medium-low heat. Now place the hard candy in the smaller pot of your double boiler and place that in the larger pot. Slowly and gently stir the candy as it begins to melt. Continuously stir the candy as it gradually melts. The smaller your candy pieces are the quicker they will melt. Once the candy has completely melted it is ready to use. If allowed to cool it will harden and you will have to restart the process from crushing the candy. If you don’t have a double boiler but would still like to try this method you can use the hot bath method where you place a smaller bowl in a larger bowl with hot water. This can work but just make sure the water does not get into the smaller bowl.
Melting Hard Candy In The Microwave
You can melt hard candy in your microwave but of all the methods this one may be the most difficult to pull off. It’s quicker but that is also the danger with it. Microwaves work quick and sugar burns easily. All you need is a microwave-safe bowl preferably made of glass. Place the hard candy in a plastic bag as with all the other methods and crush it with a rolling pin or mallet. You will have to watch your candy closely while it is in the microwave and that is where the glass bowl comes in handy. Run the microwave for 60 seconds at 80% power. Take the bowl out and if your candies have started to melt stir. If not, just place the bowl back in the microwave. Run for another 15 seconds then take the bowl out. Stir again. You will repeat these 15-second intervals until the candy has completely melted.
So there you have four options for ways to melt hard candy. Think carefully about where the candy is going after melting it to make sure you choose the best method.