Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Experimental Candy

...because I just can't leave well enough alone.

After the Turkish Delight debacle of earlier post fame, I obtained a new candy thermometer.  Oddly, I decided to break it in on an experimental recipe that I just made up myself.  I am aware that this means I have no way of telling if the candy turns out the way it's supposed to, because the candy itself is an unknown quantity.  However, it's all over now, so I can say that as far as I can tell, the new thermometer works great! 
Anyway.  To start at the beginning.  The story of my new candy recipe starts some months ago, when a conversation with my parents reminded me of a beverage mix we always used to keep around the house, Russian Tea.  As near as I can tell, this was a popular thing back in the 70's, although the mix recipe is readily available on the net.  Here is the one that most closely matches the one we used to use at home:

Russian Tea Mix
1 cup instant tea powder
1 cup unsweetened lemonade powder
2 cups orange-flavored drink mix (ie. Tang)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Mix it all up in a BIG container.  To drink hot, put a couple of Tbsp in a mug and add hot water.  To drink cold, put a couple of Tbsp. in a glass and add cold water.  There!  I should also add that you should shake it up pretty good before you scoop any out to make your drink, or you will wind up with a mug of hot Tang or hot sugar water, etc.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it kind of loses the Russian Tea-ness.  Basically, it tastes like moderately sweetened, very citrusy tea.  Although I quite like it, as you can imagine from the quantities given above, it makes a LOT of drink mix.  I know you can cut it in half and so on, but I didn't.  The end result being that I have a lot of Russian Tea mix hanging around. 

To move on with my little story, you may notice there's a lot of sugar in the mix...  and candy is mostly sugar, so...  I wondered what would happen if I made candy out of some of my drink mix.  Here's what did happen.

There's a lot of extra stuff in with the sugar, so it didn't melt as clean as when you cook just plain sugar.  Kind of murky, isn't it?

No thermal weirdness ensued, with the heat going up, just the way it was supposed to!  I thought it was going to boil over, but it stayed in the pan.  Whew!  Sugar candy is not that hard to clean up, but it is pretty sticky and messy until it's gone.

And then, being very careful of the terrifying sugar lava, I poured it in a pan to cool. Then I waited a good long while for it to cool off.  Since I am in Alaska, I didn't have to wait that long, but your results may vary.   I just broke it up and tried a piece.  Surprise!  It tastes like citrusy tea.  If that sounds like a good thing to you, you might want to try this out:

Russian Tea Hard Candy
2 cups Russian Tea mix (from mix recipe given above)
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/4 cup of water

Equipment:  Big pot with tall sides, candy thermometer, hot pads, etc, metal pan with sides to cool candy in (baking pan, jelly roll pan, etc).
Proceed as for any cooked hard candy (basically, after the ingredients, the directions for this type are always the same).  If you do not have directions or recipe, I direct you to this basic recipe at Cooks.com .  Also, if you are inclined to experiment in this type of cooking, this is a great starting point.  Although I should point out that this recipe doesn't involve the covering with powdered sugar or cutting up the cooled candy with a scissors part.  Although I don't really see why you couldn't, if you want to.  Anyway.  Candy!

No comments: