I’m a big fan of doing things once and doing it big enough that I don’t have to think about it for a while. You know, kind of the point of this blog. So, I had the bright idea this summer to expand my candy making to a bulk sized endeavor. The small batches were a big hit, but time intensive. I don’t have tons of spare time to be standing around in my kitchen watching sugar boil (as I’m sure many of you can relate to!) so bulk is the way to go.
The original recipe was 1 cup of water and 1 cup of xylitol. Bring to a hard boil for 12 minutes (or 310*F) and tada! Candy! That seemed to work well for the small batches. There were always some candies that didn’t harden, and some of them turned out a bit crumbly, but no one really cared much. So, I increased my recipe by 4.
Well, let’s just say that this plan didn’t really come together how I envisioned it. First of all, it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for the xylitol to come to the right temperature. Then, I discovered that you don’t add flavoring to candy when it is at temperature. Bad idea!!! The difference in temperatures cause the intended mix to spatter and it can burn you! DON’T DO IT! Don’t worry – I’ll tell you the safe way to do this in a minute. The third issue that occurred with my bulk attempt is that some candies hardened beautifully, some never hardened, and some were like crystal shards – not really what one expects when one thinks of HARD candy… It was quite mysterious, and obviously needed more thought.
I started playing around with the xylitol candy recipe (as I do, when things don’t turn out just how I want them) and have discovered that the original recipe I linked to isn’t the best way to make it. The original recipe used xylitol and water, and then boiled off the water to make the candies. After much research, also known as reading candy cookbooks (yum!), I decided to skip the water as an ingredient altogether. As it turns out the wide variety of textures in my bulk candy experiment were because of the various amounts of water in the solution. The really crumbly candies were poured first, and the hard candies were poured at the end when the water had finally boiled off.
So, to make your xylitol candy, you will need to slowly melt some xylitol in a small pan. In this case slow is better – so you don’t burn the xylitol before it melts. When the temperature reaches “hard crack” (which is about 310*, or if you drip some into cold water, it forms threads that will crack when you try to mold them) pour the xylitol into your candy mold, or drip it onto parchment paper and let it harden.
As I said earlier, DON’T add the flavoring when the candy mixture is at its hottest – it will spatter and burn you! Wait for the xylitol to cool some (to about 270* or so) before adding the flavoring. You will still have plenty of time to take advantage of the fluidity of your candy before it hardens.