Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How-To's Day: Rock Candy (In Progress)

My friend Annette who is a super talented pastry chef had some rock candy she made on the counter when I was visiting last week and I had to try out making it! I like thinks that bring me back to being a kid- and rock candy was one of my favorite indulgences to get on school field trips to the museum.  It is also a really fun project that is sciency for the kids!

The main trick to making rock candy is that you need to let it sit for at least 7 days to form the crystals. If you start now you can have the rock candy in time for Valentine's Day. Instantly once I saw Annette's rock candy I wanted to have some to decorate our Local Love table this weekend.  Fingers crossed that it gets big by this weekend!

Supplies Needed:
Wooden Sticks or Cotton String (I am using coffee stir sticks)
Tall containers that are large enough to cover the sticks or strings

First you need to make Sugar Solution (Sugar Syrup):
4 cups granulated sugar plus 
2 cups water

Also you need ½ cup granulated sugar to start the crystals on the sticks.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium and bring to a full boil. Immediately turn off heat and let cool completely to room temperature. This take several hours. We are making 24 pieces of candy and for that many pieces I ended up using a 10lb. bag of sugar and two pots to cook it all.

As it was cooling I colored the sugar solution and put it into pitchers to distribute the liquid as easy as possible.

You can do this before or after the sticks are coated, I slit 3 small cuts across the lids to these plastic containers Annette rescued from work and shoved sticks in them to make them the right size:

By filling a glass with the cooled sugar solution I could coat the sticks with the initial layer of sugar easiest.  Soak the sticks or string for a hott minute before spooning the sugar over the wet stick coating it. Put the extra sugar solution in the refrigerator.

Once you get the stick coated set them out to dry overnight. 

It is really easy to pick out the parts of the sugar where the sugar liquid beads up in it and save the sugar for things like coffee. Don't let it go to waste, it is perfectly good- just sayin'.

The Next Day:

Suspend the sugary sticks (or stings) in the container with sugar solution high enough to completely cover the sugar on the sticks. Do leave some room for there to be some air for the solution to work.

Store your container (s) in a cool, dark place for at least 7 days.  
Annette's tip- if the sugar crystals don't start to form within 3 days, they probably won't start.

I am getting nervous about my candy sticks... I started the batch Saturday, so I still have  a bit of time within Annette's 3 day rule- but some of them are looking puny :( Getting nervous over here...

When it is the size you want/ feel its ready let it drip dry and it's done. 
Enjoy! (remember to tell the adult in you it is pretty much 100% pure sugar- so like all good things, eat in moderation.)

Get on this now and you'll have some amazing candy come Valentine's Day!


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