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.
Disadvantages Of Using The Stove
While the stove can be used to melt hard candy, there are actually a few disadvantages associated with using this method. For starters, the method is very messy. This is because there is a risk that the candy will stick to the bottom of the pan and it can be really hard to clean up the mess. Furthermore, melting hard candy on a stove, requires the use of many utensils as compared to when you use the oven method.
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 The Toaster Oven
Another great way of melting hard candy is to use the toaster oven. However, you need to be cognizant of the fact that a toaster oven is smaller in size as compared to an oven thus, the element will be closer. When using the toaster oven to melt hard candy, the first thing you need to do is to preheat the toaster oven to 300F. The next thing is to line the baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. This will help to prevent the candy from sticking directly to the bottom of the pan. Once that is done, the next step is to crush the hard candy and place it into the pan. Crushing, the candy will help it to melt faster. Place the candy into the toaster oven and let it melt for about 5 minutes before removing it. When the candy has melted, remove it from the toaster oven and let it cool down for about 20 minutes.
NB: Do not let the hard candy start bubbling or else it will quickly start burning so make sure you keep a close eye so that your candy doesn’t get ruined.
Disadvantages Of Using A Toaster Oven
One of the main disadvantages of using a toaster oven to melt candy is that the element will be closer to baking pan which means the hard candy can burn easily when left unattended. Furthermore, the toaster oven is very small in size, so you can only melt a few hard candy at a time.
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.
Disadvantages Of Using A Double Boiler
The double boiler usually takes a longer time to melt up the hard candy and if you are in a hurry this might not be the most ideal method to use. Furthermore, there is a risk that steam or heat will escape from the saucepan making it even harder for the hard candy to melt. So always make sure that the top part of your double boiler sits perfectly onto the saucepan.
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.
Disadvantages Of Using A Microwave
The process of reheating hard candy in a microwave can become very monotonous since you will have to heat them up in 15 minute intervals until they have melted. Furthermore, it can be a bit messy considering you will have to mix the candy regularly and you can spill some in your kitchen.
The Best Way To Melt Hard Candy
While different methods can be used to melt hard candy, the best method would be to use an oven. This is because it is less messy and you can easily melt the hard candy into the exact shape you want by placing cookie cutters inside the baking tray. When the candy has cooled down it will harden, taking the shape of the cookie cutter making it easier for you to clean the baking tray when you are done.
Tips For Melting Hard Candy
- Group your hard candies based on color and also melt them according to color. This is because if you melt hard candies that have different colors at once, they will produce a yucky color.
- Always have ziplock bags when you can divide and store the same colored candy.
- Always crush your hard candy with a hammer or meat pounder before melting it. This makes it easier for your candy to melt.
- Always have different shapes of cookie cutters so that you can mold your melted candy into your desired shape.
- Use silicon equipment when stirring your hard candies because it’s easier to clean off the candy residues on silicon equipment as compared to metal equipment.
- Never taste melted hard candy while it’s still hot. This is because it can seriously burn your tongue.
How Do You Dissolve Hard Candy?
The best way to dissolve hard candy is to use water. This is because hardy candy is mainly made of sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients that can easily dissolve in water. So in order to speed up the process of dissolving hard candy you can always use boiling water instead of cold water.
How Do You Melt Hard Candy For Decorations?
The best way to melt hard candy for decorations is to melt it in the oven. To make the process easier you can line the cookie cutters that you intend on using to make decorations. Place the crushed hard candy inside the cookie cutter. When the candy melts and cools down, it will take the exact shape of the cookie cutter thus leaving you with decorations.
Can You Re-Melt Hard Candy?
Yes you can definitely re-melt hard candy. All you have to do is to use the same method that you used in the first place to melt hard candy.
What Is The Easiest Way To Crush Hard Candy?
The easiest way to crush hard candy is to place it in a ziplock bag and then use a hammer or a meat ponder to crush the hard candy.
Can You Pour Hard Candy On Parchment Paper?
You can most certainly pour hard candy on parchment paper. This is usually done if you are planning on melting the hard candy in the oven. All you have to do is to place the parchment paper in a baking sheet and then pour your hard candy inside. You can then place it in the oven and let the candy melt.
There are various methods that can be used to melt hard candies however, you should only choose one method that seems easy for you. Remember that melted hard candy has a tendency of cooling down fast so make sure you transfer it into your molds before it dries out.