December 7, 2012
Fab or Fail, snacks
candy, corn-free xylitol, mint, Once a Month Cooking
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.
May 25, 2012
Fab or Fail, snacks
candy, corn-free xylitol, mint
With trepidation, I added peppermint flavor to my first batch of xylitol candy. It was the only flavoring I had on hand, and having “mints” is already an established treat in our home. Why the trepidation, then? My middle child – the one who needs the most dental help – dislikes mint.
So I offered the home-made xylitol candy to my oldest first. If you ever need a cheerleader, someone to lead the charge, a party in a petite package perhaps, then my oldest child is the one you need. She raved and raved over the xylitol candy and begged for more. It took my two boys a couple of days to work up the courage to give the candies a try. Once they did, however, it was clear that corn-free xylitol candy is a resounding success in this home!
My next batch I added orange flavoring to. And that batch is going even faster! I must say it is a bit strange to happily give out candy – with no concern over teeth or ruining dinner (xylitol is lower-carb as well).
May 18, 2012
Fab or Fail, healing diets, Health and Beauty products, snacks
candy, Sugar substitute, Xylitol
It is no secret that I have a sweet tooth.
Giant Chewy Nerds, made by the Willy Wonka Candy Company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Give me Chewy Runts and I’m a happy girl! Give me peanut butter cups and I am in heaven. I am certain my graphics business runs, in part, on sugar. Yet, it is exceedingly difficult to find corn-free candy. Corn syrup is the basis of most candies, and even when it’s not, there’s dextrose, corn starch, citric acid and fructose to be concerned with (yes! All these things DO come from corn). Even more difficult is finding corn-free candy that actually tastes good. There’s no feeling quite like setting yourself up for disappointment.
Now, pair that up with my goal to Be A Good Mom. You know: don’t rot the kids’ teeth but let them enjoy some sweets in life; don’t poison them but realize their peers get treats and they’ll feel left out. A tricky line to walk, no doubt about it. In addition, my middle child has very soft enamel on his teeth and I have to be so, so careful as we’re in a season of life that leaves us with no dental insurance.
Corn-Free Candy Inspiration
As I was researching dental health care on Dr. Ellie’s site, I was reminded of the anti-cavity properties Xylitol has. Encouraged by Dr. Ellies use of Xylitol mints and gum, I casually wondered (aka googled) if I could make xylitol mints on my own. As it turns out, Mom’s Frugal blog says I can! Not only that, but I have oodles of corn-free xylitol on hand, languishing in my pantry – so this will be a no-cost experiment. Win!
So today, I put together the ingredients, and made a small batch of xylitol mints. They are cooling right now. They taste fine to me, and will totally work in my efforts to help the kids’ teeth. But… will the kids eat them?