If you’d like to learn to make candy, for fun or profit, or simply to increase your popularity immensely since most people LOVE chocolate and the people who can provide it, you need to read a book.
And the book you need to read, and follow like a spiritual text, is Peter Greweling’s Chocolate and Confections at Home. The At Home part of the title is critical; Greweling also has a book called simply Chocolate and Confections but, if you’ve never made chocolate and start with that book, your head might explode. It’s a lovely book but not the place to start.
When I want to learn something new, I always look for books. It’s just me. I know other people take courses or workshops, or watch YouTube videos, but I read about it. And I scare myself, sometimes, because I like the reading part so much I might just never move on to the doing!
But, if you read this book, you’ll want to move on and make the candy. The pictures are so great and the candy is SO tempting, you’ll definitely want to try it. And Greweling does such a good job of explaining that he de-mystifies the scary parts of the process—tempering real chocolate, using a candy thermometer, boiling sticky stuff at 300 degrees.
Learning to temper chocolate is where it’s all at. Greweling doesn’t condemn the use of compound coating, the so-called candy melts you buy at the grocery store or Michael’s, but, really, if you love chocolate you need to just accept that candy melts are NOT chocolate. They are a chocolate-flavored mix of vegetable fats, cocoa powder, and other stuff. Cheap and convenient, sure, but not chocolate.
So, Greweling will teach you to temper chocolate. If you can do that, you can make a lot of cool candy just by mixing tempered chocolate, dark, milk or white, with other ingredients you love and calling it bark. One of the favorite combinations I’ve come up with is dark chocolate, with a little mix of hot spices stirred into the tempered chocolate, and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and dried sour cherries. Crunchy and unexpected, with this subtle heat . . . too yummy!
The book moves on from such simple treats to elaborate layered candy bars and molded chocolates. You can build your skills and get fancy or just keep it simple. But because it’s real chocolate and other ingredients that you love and choose, with no weird additives, simple is spectacular. Really, check this book out!
If all this sounds good but you don’t have time for another craft, I can make the candy for you. Candy-making season at KerryCan, my Etsy shop, begins sometime in mid-September. I’ll keep you posted.