Thursday, February 28, 2008

TUMMY TIME and Homemade Saltwater Taffy Recipe

Just so you know, after typing the title to this post, Rachel swore at me.

If you are one of those CRAZZY people who checks both my and Rachel's blog, then you've already seen these pictures, but I just couldn't help but post them. We've been giving the little girl a little more "Tummy-Time" (man I love that phrase) lately. Here she is, showing the world how strong that stringy little neck really is.

Oh, and I wanted to mention: I've been working on home made taffy pulling. Tonight, Rach and I made watermelon taffies. It's strangely rewarding to make these little candies, and with a thermometer and a recipe, it's totally easy. Here's the taffy I made, and the recipe I use. (I want to try these again using 1 Teaspoon of glycerin in place of the butter.)

Quick note on temperature. The hardest part of making taffy is getting the temperature right. I've tried it before cooking the syrup to 255 degrees, and 260. Just those different temperatures result in dramatically different candies. I like 250 the best. It's soft and chewy like I think taffy should be. 260 ends up feeling like Now-and-Laters, and 255 is just a little too sticky in your mouth. 265 gets to the point where you can't even pull it. (I got blisters more than once trying to pull taffy that was cooked too hot because the candy is actually at soft crack stage. You want hardball stage.)

Because temperature is so important, you'll want to calibrate your thermometer.  It's easy, just boil some water, and stick your thermometer in the water.  It should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit (water's boiling point.)  If it reads 210, then you know your thermometer is 2 degrees colder than it should be, so you'll want to cook the syrup until your thermometer reads 252.  If it reads 217, then you know your thermometer is 5 degrees hotter than it should be, and you'll want to cook the syrup to 245.

Homemade Taffy Recipe
(I've seen a lot of recipes for taffy, but didn't know much about how to do the things the recipes tell you to do. "What does Pull mean?" So I had to figure it all out by trial and error. If you've never made taffy before, hopefully this will make it easier for you.)

2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 Cup water

  1. Stir together sugar, corn starch and salt. - If you mix these in a bowl first, you can pour them over top of the liquids, which means you'll have to stir less.
  2. Pour water, corn syrup, butter and vinegar into pan. - No need to stir just yet.
  3. Add Sugar mixture - By pouring the sugar on top of the liquid, instead of the liquid on top of the sugar, you won't have to stir as much while the syrup cooks, and you'll reduce the chance of burning the mixture and of recrystalizing the sugars.
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer reads 250F - Two things here: First, stir gently only until the sugar is dissolved, and then don't stir any more. Be sure to stir carefully, you don't want the sugar crystals getting on the edges of the pan because if one crystal fell into the syrup, it could start a chain reaction crystallizing the syrup. There are two different sugars in this syrup, glucose and fructose, if you stir too much, or if a crystal falls in after the water boils off those two sugars can crystallize into sucrose, which is granulated. Secondly, be sure to take the candy off the burner when the thermometer is a bit below 250. The temperature will raise to the correct temperature while they syrup is off the burner.
  5. Pour syrup out onto buttered cookie sheet, let stand fifteen to twenty minutes. - If you have a flexible nylon baking pad, it is really nice for this part. If not, a cookie sheet works just as well. Either way, you'll want something with edges to make sure the syrup doesn't go on the counter. You can add the coloring and flavoring whenever you want as long as the syrup is no longer boiling. If you add the flavoring while the syrup is boiling, the flavoring will boil off and the candy will have little to no flavor. I like to add the flavoring and coloring after the candy has cooled because it allows me to separate the taffy into different parts if I want to make more than one flavor at a time.
  6. When cool, knead taffy together to remove from cookie sheet. - I've seen people use a pastry knife to get the taffy off the cookie sheet, but you can just use your hands if you let the candy cool long enough. If it sticks to the pan at all, let it sit for five more minutes, if the cookie sheet has even a little bit of butter on it, the taffy won't stick. Oh, you'll want to butter your hands a little bit to keep the taffy from sticking to your hands. Oh, and you don't want to put it in the fridge or freezer to speed up cooling time... it doesn't work. I don't know why, it just results candy that snaps apart when you try to pull it.
  7. Push small well into taffy and add coloring and flavoring. - I use Lorann Oils found at a grocery store nearby. It's $1 per dram, and I use a dram for this recipe. A dram is a small bottle.
  8. Pull taffy for ten to fifteen minutes. - Pulling taffy is the best part. It's a bit tricky at first, but halfway into your first time, it should get easier. The trick is to actually pull the candy. Grab taffy in the middle with both hands. Twist while you pull your hands apart. At first, you'll pull your hands about four or five inches away from each other before the taffy in between gets really thin. Then, fold the candy on itself, twist and pull again. As you continue pulling the taffy will get thicker, more like rope. At first, it will be stringy and you'll feel like the candy isn't coming together. Just keep going, the candy will get a little more tacky and start to come together. It will go from stringy and dull to a smooth shiny rope. When the color is pale, and the candy feels soft, you're doing good. You can't over-pull taffy so don't worry about over doing it. You can under-pull taffy though, so when in doubt, keep going.
  9. Roll out into long snake - This is the part where your kindergarten Play Dough snake making skills come in handy.
  10. Cut with Pizza cutter or scizzors and wrap in waxed paper. - Candy will stay for a long time. If you use butter, it will go rancid eventually. That's why I want to try glycerine instead of butter next time. With glycerine instead it should be pretty much unperishable.
One note: For these candies, after the syrup cooled, I poured the watermelon flavoring into the whole taffy batch and pulled it to mix the flavoring in. Then I separated the taffy into two parts and colored one of them green and one of them red. I then rolled the red into a log and flattened the green into a strip. I draped the green over the red, and cut small slices.


Unknown said...

I haven't been on your site for a while and I haven't talked to you in a while, but let me just say your little girl is BEAUTIFUL!! I will also say, parenting just gets better and better.


Joshua said...

Rachel and I keep saying, "When are we going to have BJ, Tracy and Isaac over?" We really need to say screw the busy schedule, let's hang out.

Oh, but I have RA interviews all next week. Ugh... maybe later in March? What's March look like for you guys?

Unknown said...

BJ and I have said that too... I keep getting in trouble because I just keep talking about it and not doing anything about it.

March is actually kind of crazy for us. Baseball has started and then BJ heads to Florida for a week for baseball.

Maybe a week night or Sunday? See you Friday.

Rachel Elek said...

Oooh, I'm getting in on this too! We have thursday nights open and sundays too. next week starting monday is out until the following saturday because my sister is in town, but any other time is good for us.

Jacinta said...

Thanks for the taffy recipe. I've been looking for a straightforward one as I've never done it before. Your extra notes are good to know. Hopefully I get to try this out soon. Cheers.

Joshua said...

Hope you enjoy it! I'm actually eating a piece we made this weekend!

Mandy said...

Thanks for the taffy instructions! I've been working on making it myself from some old fashioned recipes and so far have ended up making hard candy. These instructions make much more sense. Will be trying it soon!

The Stoddard Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joshua said...

Oops... Those should be in The 200s. Sorry about that! Thanks for pointing it out, I'll be sure to fix it in the post.

The Stoddard Family said...

Great, thanks! I'm excited to make some of these tasty treats!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the recipe, I've been looking all over the internet for a recipe that was close to the salt water taffy my grandmother used to make. Your's has been almost spot-on!

Liz said...

Hi there! Thank you so much for the recipe! With lots of practice, I'm hoping I'll be able to make taffies as cute as your watermelons one of these days!

One comment on calibrating your thermometer - I could have it wrong, but I think you may have it backwards...for instance, if your water is boiling at 210 (according to your thermometer), and it's really 212 (bc that's the boiling point of water with no altitude adjustments), then you would need to cook to only 248 in order to get an actual temperature of 250. If your thermometer reads 217 at 212, then you would need to cook to 255 in order to reach a real temperature of 250. So, if your thermometer reads low, you should cook lower. If it reads high, cook higher to get the real temp. I hope this helps! Thanks again for the great recipes :)