There is nothing quite like the smell of our favorite southern candy cooking in the kitchen. Mmmm. It causes one’s mouth to water at the mere thought. And nowhere will you find more exquisite flavors, textures, and variety than in the deep south. From New Orleans pralines to our favorite chocolate candy, homemade southern candy is sure to be everybody’s favorite.
Pralines are candies made of nuts and sugar. Here in the deep South, pecans are often at a surplus, so pecan pralines are popular. Whatever the recipe, you’ll need to cook candy to a “soft ball stage” before adding the pecans. When you drizzle a bit of candy into a cup of cold water, it should form a soft ball which does not hold shape. The candy should flatten out between your fingers.
Chocolate fudge and chocolate candy are not the same thing. Chocolate fudge is more dense than candy, is heavier, and usually served in smaller, thicker chunks. We don’t know if it’s true or not, but according to the tale, fudge was created by accident. Over 100 years ago somebody trying to make caramel “fudged” the recipe – hence the name.
Here are a few tips to help in your own kitchen when you make these delectable treats.
1. Stay away from candy making on rainy days. High humidity will not allow the candy to harden, and while it may still taste great, sticky candy is hard to handle. While we have eaten our share of chocolate candy with a spoon, we don’t recommend it.
2. Use good quality cooking vessels. Cheap pots don’t heat evenly, so your results will likely be inconsistent. Grab a heavy pot in which to cook candy. Copper bottom pots are particularly good.
3. Cook candy at the appropriate heat. As long as you are stirring the praline mixture (or chocolate fudge or candy), you can keep the temperature up pretty high. Once the candy starts to bubble you should reduce the heat to medium and let it cook a bit.
4. Stay with the pot. Okay, at least stay in the kitchen. Candy needs to be stirred often. It is relatively easy to scorch candy and that’s a taste that is difficult to acquire.
5. Use a candy thermometer to determine whether or not the candy is ready to take off the heat, at least until you have cooked the recipe enough times to be really comfortable with it.
6. Once you have removed the candy from the heat, be patient when it comes to reducing the candy temperature so that you can pour it. If you try to get it to the pan too quickly, you could end up with a nice fudge or praline sauce! Beat the candy with a heavy spoon until it begins to stiffen.
Southern Candy making can be lots of fun, and your family will certainly be happy when you make their favorite pralines or fudge. Try it tonight!
If you love great homemade candy, you can find other candy tips, gift ideas, and some of our favorite southern candy recipes at Our Favorite Southern Candy.
Photo. Grant Cochrane
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