Okay, okay, my previous post was on the disgusting side, and I apologize for that. But I’m still thinking about those same topics, and so hopefully, this follow-up will offer a bit more benefit than that curious gross-out.
Here we go, honey candy:
Making honey candy is a fun diversion, especially if it's winter and you miss your bees (or if you miss bees in general). Some would argue that it’s more interesting than delicious, but it’s worth trying.
What you need: Honey, candy thermometer, and ideally, a silicone baking sheet. (You don’t have a silicone baking sheet? Rush out and get one. They are miraculous, helpful things, and you’ll use less foil, waxed paper, and parchment paper, and spend less time greasing and cleaning things when you make roasts, cookies, or whatever.) Also, you'll need a little pan or pot (though not a pan pot—that won't work at all, you silly audio engineer, you), and optionally, some candy-making gloves and maybe a spatula. And a source of intense heat, such as fire or an electric range. That should do it.
So, heat some honey in a pot, or something, over a medium-low flame/heat. Even just a quarter cup or so is enough honey to do this. You might not want any more than that. The amount doesn’t matter, because honey is the only ingredient. Stir it. (Actually, I don’t know if it matters whether or not you stir it. Maybe I read somewhere that you’re supposed to stir candy ingredients while they cook. It could be an old wives tale, for all I know.)
Heat the honey until it is 295 degrees. (Really, 300 degrees, but it’s so easy to overcook, I aim low.) Then pour the boiling honey onto the silicone mat, which is perhaps in a baking pan with raised sides, so that it doesn’t dribble over the edge and consume/incinerate whatever it touches like it was lava. This is dangerous, deadly stuff! Whatever you do, don’t touch it!! It will burn you and keep burning you until you are roasted like a ham. Just leave it!
It’s going to cool, and in a few minutes, the edges will be hard enough that you can pry them off the silicone mat, a bit. The interior will still be hot as hell, though, so be really careful! You might use a spatula to pry up the edges, going round and round. The goal is eventually to peel the cooling candy off the mat in one piece and start working with it. Professional candy makers wear gloves when they do this kind of thing, because there is benefit to working with candy while it’s still hot enough to blister your hands. (Also, you won’t leave fingerprints.) But for our experimental purposes, you can probably get by without them. Just be really careful! I’ve done this three times and only charred my hands to unusable smoking cinders once, so I know it can be done without hurting yourself.
Now, you have a decision to make. If you want to just be done with this harrowing adventure already, roll the cooked honey into a quarter-inch diameter worm shape, and then cut it up into little pieces. Or, you can make it into any shape of your choice. This candy gets VERY STICKY in your mouth, so I prefer tiny bites. But you could make it into lollypops, pretzel shapes, candy canes, little dinosaurs, or whatever.
When it’s cool and hard, eat it. Pretty good, eh?
What I do, though, is add a step to make it a bit fancier. Also, it’s fun to play with it, so I keep going.
Twist the candy worm around and around, until you can’t twist it any more, and then fold it in half and twist those two together, and keep doing this again and again, twisting twisting folding twisting, until it starts to get a little difficult to work with. It's really quite beautiful, at this point.
Then make a giant honey worm.
Now, cut the worm up into candy sizes, as previously discussed.
Leave them be for a few minutes until they are cool and hard. The candies will stick together if they get the chance, so you have a few choices, at this point.
- Let them stick and break them apart when you want to eat one. That's my method.
- Wrap them individually in waxed paper, or something, if you're fricken' Martha Stewart.
- Shake them up in a baggie of confectioner’s sugar.
Here, you can see it in its different forms: confectioner's sugar (on top), twisted (bottom left), and untwisted (bottom right). They all taste about the same. The sugared ones are arguably the most practical, but they make a mess, and they introduce another ingredient, and that kind of distracts from the bee visit, which was my goal in the first place.
You know, you can actually do this experiment with sugar, as well. Just melt some sugar; I used a frying pan, when I tried this. The physics work out about the same. It’s easy to burn it. My own attempt tasted horrible and I threw it out after a single lick, but I’m sure that by adding the right flavoring and getting the exact temperature correct, it could become edible—unlike my ill-fated candy cane attempt, discussed in a previous post, and best probably not ever mentioned again. But the honey candy tastes pretty good, actually!