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Candy making 101

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By Deanna Godman

At one of the Spencer County Extension office SOS classes,  Candy Making was offered. The class was taught by sisters Edith Judd and Pauline Pennington.

Judd and Pennington have been members of the Spencer County Homemakers Council for many years, and have been teaching SOS classes for about seven years. The sisters were asked this year to do a candy class, and “planned for easy, simple, homey candies,” according to Judd. They also taught the knitting and crochet classes with other Homemaker members.

As the class began, the teachers gave to students a handout of recipes and directions for candy making. The recipes included peanut butter dipped crackers, several kinds of fudge and Martha Washington candy. Judd and Pennington brought samples of all the candies that they planned to discuss. After they showed off each of the samples, they began the demonstration and lecture.

The teachers demonstrated making butterscotch covered peanut butter balls, butterscotch crispies, and Rolo pretzel candies. They had a stove with an overhead mirror so that the audience could see each step. They had already made the peanut butter balls, and melted the butterscotch chips while talking about the basics of candy making. Once the butterscotch had melted, they dipped several of the peanut butter balls to show how simple it is. For the Rolo pretzel candy, they simply put Rolos on top of pretzels and placed them in the oven. When the Rolos were hot, they were taken out and pecans put on top and pushed down.

Judd and Pennington emphasized that candy making is a forgiving process if you know the basics. For the butterscotch candies they used butterscotch chips, but said that when making candy, one can use chips (chocolate, vanilla or other) or candy melts which are available in grocery and craft stores. When using chips, paraffin needs to be used during the melting process to make the candy shiny. Candy melts do not need paraffin added because they are already shiny. When adding flavors, oils must be used instead of extracts or the chocolate will seize (clump and become unusable). For the same reasons, gel food coloring should be used instead of liquid food colorings.

After demonstrating the butterscotch peanut butter balls, there was still a lot of melted butterscotch left. Mrs. Pennington poured in crispy rice cereal, then scooped out small portions onto waxed paper to make butterscotch crispies. This technique can be done with any flavor of melted candy, and many items can be added including crushed candy canes, pretzels, dried cranberries, raisins and nuts.

There were eleven attendees, nine women and two men. Many of the participants seemed to know one another and shared tips and ideas with one another and the teachers throughout the class. At the end of the class, the participants were invited to get a plate and try the dozen or so candy samples, and were even allowed to take some home.

When asked how they got started making candy, Judd said, “We made candy ever since I could remember for Christmas. We’ve made candy for over sixty years.” Pennington added, “I’ve always made candy. We (Edith and I) took a candy class about 25 years ago, and then I really got interested in it and made candy for Christmas all the time instead of buying it.”

Pauline Pennington received the recipe for Martha Washington Candy over thirty years ago. “Don’t ask me where cause I don’t know. I used to make it every year for Christmas.”

Martha Washington Candy

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

2 sticks melted margarine

2 pounds powdered sugar

1 12 ounce bag chocolate chips

2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1 bar  paraffin  (Pennington usually uses a little over half a bar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large bag coconut

Mix milk, margarine and sugar in a bowl. Add coconut, nuts and vanilla. Roll in small balls and chill. In a double boiler melt paraffin and chocolate chips. Dip balls in chocolate mixture with a toothpick. Lay on waxed paper until firm, refrigerating if necessary.

 For suggestions on making candy with your children, see Deanna Godman’s blog at http://blog.funmama.net