2.12.16 Caramels

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General considerations

Caramels and candies offer a large variety of products in terms of flavour, colour, consistency and shape (see Figure 2.19). Candy making is an art of its own. The consistency of the candies depends very much on the temperature reached during heating and a candy thermometer would therefore be very useful. Other tests can be used to estimate the right temperature which is particularly important since adding honey to a recipe requires a higher temperature for caramelization which cannot always be calculated in advance.

With sufficient experience, the colour, boiling behaviour and threading of candy can be used to recognise the critical temperatures. For testing, fresh and cool (preferably chilled) water should be used each time and the pan should be removed from the heat in order to avoid overheating during the test. The following description of the signs for different stages of caramelization and candy processing is adapted from Rombauer and Rombauer Becker (1975). 

Various caramels, jellies and gums made with honey. One type, on the right, is also flavoured with propolis.
Figure 2.19: Various caramels, jellies and gums made with honey. One type, on the right, is also flavoured with propolis.


-A thread
stage is reached when the candy forms a 5 cm coarse thread when dropped from a spoon. Begins at 1100C.

-The soft ball stage is reached when a small quantity of syrup, dropped into chilled water, forms a ball which does not disintegrate, but flattens out of its own accord or when gently picked up with the fingers. Begins at 1 120C.

-The firm ball will hold its shape and will not flatten unless pressed with the fingers. Begins at 1170C.

-The hard ball is more rigid, but still pliable. Begins at 1210C.

-The soft crack stage is reached when a small quantity of the hot syrup, dropped into chilled water, will separate into hard threads which, when removed from the water, will bend. Begins at 1320C.

-The hard crack stage is reached when the same threads are hard and brittle. Begins at 1490C.

-Caramelized sugar is obtained at 154 to 1700C when a pure sugar syrup turns golden brown. It will turn black and lose its sweetness at about 1770C.

During heating the temperature rises slowly up to 105 0C, but will increase much more rapidly thereafter. It should be carefully watched and controlled. Preheat the thermometer in hot water before inserting it into the candy and make sure that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. After the ingredients have been well mixed and the temperature reached 100 0C, stirring should stop. Do not scrape the edges of the pan once the boiling stage has been reached as the sugar crystals on the edge will cause the candy to granulate rather than stay smooth. When the boiling point has been reached, just cover with a lid and in 2 to 3 minutes the steam will have washed off the sides. Uncover and continue without stirring. If granulation occurs anyway, add a little water and start again.

The pan should not be disturbed during cooling or when removing it from the heat for testing without a thermometer. Use only a very clean spoon for testing. The cooling candy should never be beaten, kneaded or mixed before it has cooled to 45 0C.

There are two ways of cooling. The pot can be placed immediately into cold water until the pot bottom can be touched without discomfort. The other way, as described in these recipes, is to pour the hot candy onto a cold and buttered marble slab, a heavy buttered platter or a cooled tray. Pour the candy carefully as it may splash and burn somebody. Also, let the candy run from the pan and do not scrape out the stiffer material at the bottom which may have reached a different stage of crystallization and may behave differently if mixed with the rest of the batch. If adapting sugar-only recipes for use with honey, remember also that honey needs higher temperatures to reach the appropriate stage of caramelization and may require more beating (kneading) if the recipe requires it.

Should the candy have cooled too much for further processing, the mass can be carefully tesoftened in a water bath. If the syrup was cooked at too high a temperature and crystallized too hard, the candy can be reheated in a water bath with about 18 to 20% of water added and stirred constantly until it is completely liquefied. It can then be returned to the pan and heated to boiling point, covered to remove crystals from the sides of the pan, uncovered and reheated to the appropriate caramelization point.

Colouring and flavouring should proceed once the candy mass has cooled to a temperature manageable for kneading or stirring (less than 45 0C). Food aromas can be incorporated at the same time. While still pliable, other ingredients such as candied fruits, nuts, ginger, coconut or jam can be added. These are more likely to be added to candy heated only to the soft ball stage. Once kneaded or mixed in, the candy can be cut into the desired shapes and coated with confectioners sugar or chocolate.

Coating with chocolate is rather tricky and requires correct environmental conditions as well as special packaging and is not possible without refrigeration in hot climates. The weather during dipping should be cool and dry, or the room should be cooler than 21 0C with a relative humidity of less than 55% and should be free of draughts. Any type of bar chocolate is very slowly melted in a water bath. The chocolate is stirred until it reaches 54 0C. If it is not stirred constantly at temperatures above 38 0C, the cocoa butter will separate out. Remove from the heat but maintain the temperature at about 31 0C. The candy needs to be maintained at about 21 0C. Dip candies one at a time and let them drain on a wire rack or screen. If large quantities are prepared, the dipping should be done in a smaller, separate container. The drippings can be remelted again. The extra chocolate on the dipping fork can be used to make small designs on the candy to distinguish different fillings. Refrigerate the product for a few hours before packing.

Honey caramels

Ingredients (in parts by weight) after Paillon (1960):

0.75
Honey
6
Sugar
0.75
Glucose
2
Warm water
q.s.
Vanilla powder, alcohol extract etc.

Heat the water in a large skillet (frying pan). Ensure that no odd flavours from the skillet can affect the product. Reduce the heat and dissolve the sugar in the hot water, stirring it to avoid caramelization on the bottom. Add the glucose, which is placed to dissolve in the middle of the syrup. The glucose may be replaced by honey and added at a later stage. Let it simmer for a while. Skim off the foam and clean crystals from the edges of the pot by covering it for three minutes. Uncover, stir and heat until the hard ball stage is reached, between 1250 and 128 0C. Use a thermometer or drop test for control. Add the honey and aromas and continue heating until the soft crack stage is reached at 145 0C. Pour the hot liquid onto a cold and greased su~ace or tray. Allow to cool sufficiently until a good malleability ~liabihty) is reached, spread it evenly and stamp or press out the desired shapes or forms. Let it cool for a few moments and cover with sugar crystals or powdered sugar prior to packing. These caramels can be flavoured with honey only or with other essences and herbal extracts such as vanilla, eucalyptus, liquorice or mint. The cutting has to be done relatively quickly before the caramel becomes too hard.

Butter honey caramels

Ingredients (in parts by weight) after Paillon (1960):

2.5
Sugar
0.8
Warm water
4
Glucose
1.5
Honey
0.625
Butter
q.s.
Salt


Wet the sugar with the warm water, heat slowly and melt. Continue stirring and add the glucose, melt and heat slowly to 1180C. Add the butter and honey, bring slowly back to 11 70C or possibly 1180C. Spread quickly on a cold, buttered marble suiface between two metal or wooden bars and cut rapidly with a circular knife (a round, rotating blade). Pack while still warm.

Coconut fudge

Ingredients (in parts by volume) modified after Rombauer and Rombauer Becker (1975):

24
Sugar
12
Honey
8
Milk
1
Vinegar
q.s.
Salt

20
Moist, shredded coconut
3
Butter

Stir the first S ingredients together over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir until boiling then cover for about 3 minutes to remove crystals from the sides of the pan. Uncover, reduce heat and cook slowly to the soft ball stage (115 to 1180C) without stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut and butter. Pour the hot candy onto a buttered platter or pan until it is cool enough to handle, then shape it into small balls or other preferred shapes. Place them on foil or wire racks to dry. Wrap the pieces individually for packaging. For small trial batches, 1 part could be equivalent to 1 tablespoon and 16 parts equal to 1 cup.

Honey roasted nut bars

The following recipe is very flexible since the proportions of sugar, honey and nuts can be varied in order to produce either a solid caramel bar with a few nuts, or nuts coated with caramelized sugar and honey (see Figure 2.19). Availability of moisture-proof packaging materials and economical (cost) considerations determine whether the honey proportion can be increased.

Ingredients (in parts by weight) modified after Paillon (1960):

Possible range in %
10 Sugar 10-80
2.5 Honey 0-75
1.25 Almonds or other nut, whole or broken
0-80
2.5 Water 25-35 (on sugar)
1.25 White vinegar 0-50 (on water)


Dissolve the sugar in the water and vinegar, place over medium heat and stir continuously. when boiling, add the honey, mix and reheat to a boil; cover for three minutes to remove crystals from the side of the pan, uncover and without stirring bring to a golden brown soft or hard crack stage according to preference. Add the nuts and cook for a few more minutes without raising the temperature. Then pour onto a cold, lightly oiled marble plate or buttered tray. Cut before the candy turns hard and wrap after cooling in moisture sealed packages or place in large glass jars for display. For candy coated nuts, with a higher proportion of nuts to sugar, the nuts should be stirred or shaken in a small amount of hot syrup. They may also be boiled briefly with the syrup. It may be found easier to immerse the nuts in a larger quantity of syrup and drain excess syrup while cooling on a wire rack. The drained candy can be reheated again after adding extra water (see general introduction to this section).

In Greece, the above recipe is popular in proportions of 1 part sugar, 5 parts honey and 5 parts roasted sesame seeds. Greek halvah (see below) is a spicier version and demonstrates another variant of this recipe.

Greek halvah

Ingredients (in parts by weight) after Crane (1975):

5
Honey
3
Olive or sesame oil
2
Chopped or ground nuts (alos sesame seeds)
10
Sugar
5
Flour
3
Water
q.s.
Ground cloves and ground cinnamon

Heat the oil until it is very hot. Then gradually pour in the flour, stirring slowly until the flour turns brown (30-45 minutes). Meanwhile make a syrup of the sugar, honey and water, boil it for approximately 30 minutes over low heat until a soft crack stage is reached. Add the spices and nuts and also mix in the browned flour. Stir constantly over low heat until the mass has thickened. Turn off the heat and cover the pan for 5 minutes, then pour onto an oiled baking sheet, marmor or pan. when cool, cut into squares or bars and sprinkle with icing sugar or cinnamon.

2.12.17 Nougat and Torrone

This preparation is very similar to ordinary candy preparations and general processing procedures described in the previous section.

Ingredients (in parts by weight) after Paillon (1960):

10
Honey
14
Sugar
3
Water
10
Whole pealed almonds, blanched or toasted
0.6
Unsalted, dried or blanched pistachio nuts
2
Confectioners sugar (powdered or icing sugar) eggs (whites only, from 4 eggs per kg of honey)
q.s.
Vanilla extract
q.s.
Wafers

Torrone and various nut, sesame seed and granola bars made with honey.

Figure 2.20: Torrone and various nut, sesame
seed and granola bars made with honey.

Mix the sugar, honey and water at room temperature in a large and deep fireproof pan. Leave for about two hours, stirring occasionally until a syrup is formed. Then place on medium heat and bring to a boil while stirring, being careftil to avoid any caramelization at the bottom of the pan. when boiling, cover for 3 minutes until crystals on the sides of the pot have been removed by the steam. Uncover, reduce heat and slowly increase temperature to 120-125 0C, according to the hardness desired in the final product. Remove from the heat and fold the previously mounted (beaten) egg whites into the hot syrup with either a wooden spatula or a mechanical mixer. Mix for a few minutes and when homogeneous, return the pot to low heat. Reheat to 120 0C while stirring. Once this candy has almost reached the hard crack stage, remove from the heat and add the warm, toasted almonds followed by the pistachio nuts and vanilla extract. Pour onto cold marble between two buttered bars of the desired height or into buttered trays dusted with confectioners (4)owdered) sugar. The trays or the marble slab may also be lined with baker's wafer paper, ostia or very thin wafers (all must be edible). Once levelled at the desired thickness (0.5 to 1 cm) the nougat should also be covered by the same wafers. Weigh down the wafers and allow to set in a cool, dry place for 12 hours, then cut or saw into desired shapes and pack.

Recipes for the Italian torrone and Spanish tor6n are very similar. The torrone is characterised by the addition of hazel nuts equivalent to half the quantity of almonds and omitting pistachios. (The overall almond and nut content is increased to 60% of total weight.) Also added are finely grated lemon peel and as an option orange peel (a tblsp. each per kg of torrone) or a tblsp. of citronel (candied citron-rind) instead of the orange peel. For small-scale home recipes caramelize the sugar directly in the pan and the honey in its own water bath. Fold the mounted egg white into the caramelized honey. Then, both hot portions are mixed and brought to the final temperature close to the hard crack stage. Other ingredients have to be mixed in very quickly, if they are not preheated. Cacao paste can be added as well to change colour and flavour, replacing up to 25 or 30% of the nuts. To complement the cacao flavour, the almonds should be replaced with hazelnuts and any citrus or citronel flavours can be omitted.

2.12.18 Honey gums

Ingredients (in parts by weight) after Paillon (1960):

3
Gum of Senegal, of gum arabica
2.3
Water
2.5
Sugar
1
Honey
0.6
Glucose
q.s.
Aroma, flavouring essence or colouring


Dissolve the gum in the water, warming it lightly while stirring with a spatula. Mix the sugar with the honey, add glucose and bring this paste to a boil in a water bath while stirring vigorously. Add the filtered gum solution to the melted sugars. Heat together and verif' the right stage of boiling by dropping a small quantity into some moulds. when the boiling is judged as having reached the right stage, all of the mass is poured at a temperature of 85 - 900C.

The moulds are prepared in wooden drawers or trays filled with a thick layer of starch. The desired form is created in the starch with stamps of the required shape. The liquid is carefully poured into these cavities with a fine-spouted container. Once cooled, the trays are turned onto a large mesh screen and the extra starch is collected below. The gums can be cleaned with a blow of air (do not blow on them by mouth). Once the excess starch is removed, the gums are humidified with a jet of steam, dusted with or rolled lightly in fine crystal or confectioner's sugar and dried for afew minutes in an oven before being packed.

Colours and aromas can be mixed with the water and added to the gum to create more variety. Flavours can also be mixed towards the end of the boiling phase.

2.12.19 Gingerbread

Under the name of gingerbread a number of different recipes in different countries are used. The typical recipes from which it derived its name were those which included ginger and other spices that complement ginger, such as cinnamon and cloves. A recipe with wheat flour and one without wheat flour are given below. Measurements for small trial batches are given in brackets.

1) Ingredients (in parts by volume) modified after Rombauer and Rombauer Becker (1975):

5
Butter
10
Honey
5
Sugar
10
Warm water
Eggs (1 per 5 cups, or per 0.5 kg of flour)
0.3
Grated orange rind (optional)
25
All-purpose wheat flour
0.2
Baking soda (2 teasp. Per 0.5 kg of flour)
0.1
Baking powder
0.2
Cinnamon and ginger, each
0.1
Salt


Preheat oven to 175 0C. Melt the butter in a heavy pan and allow it to cool. Add the sugar and egg, then mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt, and mix them well. In yet another pot dissolve the honey in the warm water and add the orange rind if desired. Alternately, add the dry and liquid ingredients to the sweetened butter, mixing well. Bake for one hour in greased trays. The dough should be 1.5-2 cm thick.

2) Ingredients (in parts by volume) for a wheatless gingerbread after Rombauer and Rombauer Becker (1975):

12.5
Rye or rice flour (e.g. cups)
5
Butter
12.5
Cornstarch
10
Honey
0.3
Baking soda (3 teasp.)
5
Sugar
0.2
Baking powder
10
Warm water
0.2
Cinnamon
Well beaten eggs (4 per 0.5 kg of rye or rice flour)
q.s.
(or 0.05) ground cloves
q.s.
(or 0.05) ground cloves


Preheat oven to 165 0C. Prepare and mix all ingredients as in the previous recipe. Combine both wet and dry ingredients, beat and knead until thoroughly mixed. Bake in a greased tray for 60 to 70 minutes or until the dough fails to stick to a thin wooden stick inserted in the mix.

3) The following recipe from Paillon (1960) may be modified by including eggs, changing flour types and replacing the ammonium bicarbonate with baking powder or with (1:1) tartaric acid and baking soda. The tartaric acid or baking powder should however not be added until the dough is ready to be baked. Ammonium bicarbonate, if it can be obtained, produces a longer lasting, crisper cookie. It needs to be pounded and dissolved in warm liquid prior to adding to the dough and evaporates relatively quickly if it is not stored in an airtight container. The very high content of raising agent (baking soda and ammonium bicarbonate) can be reduced with only minor changes in the consistency of the dough. A few nuts may be included as well as a good dose of ground cinnamon and cloves. Conversely, the malt extract and glucose are not essential and may be omitted. Glucose can be replaced by honey or sugar. If brown colouring is necessary, caramelized sugar (heated until it is almost black in colour) can be used without greatly affecting the flavour.

Ingredients (in parts by weight):

4.5
Wheat flour
0.5
Ground ginger
0.5
Rye flour
2.0
Cubed citron
5.2
Honey
0.12
Sodium bicarbonate
0.05
Malt extract
(baking soda)
0.35
Glucose
0.08
Ammonium bicarbonate (or baking powder)


Careftilly bring the honey and glucose mix to a boil in a water bath and add the malt extract. Pour the hot liquid over the flour and spice mix. Knead the compact dough and include the rest of the ingredients except the ammonium bicarbonate. Retain at least two thirds of the ammonium bicarbonate or baking powder, and all of the tartaric acid, if used. Let the dough sit for one week in a wooden drawer in a cool place.

Preheat the oven to 1600C and continue preparations by kneading the dough until it turns white. Add approximately litre of milk or water while kneading and add the rest of the ammonium bicarbonate, baking powder or tartaric acid. Spread the dough in a greased and floured baking tray and cut into rectangles of 7 cm by 3 or 4 cm. Paint with beaten egg and dissolved confectioners sugar (optional) then bake at 160 to 1900C, according to the thickness of the dough (testing as in the last recipe above). when the trays are removed from the oven, break the gingerbread into the precut portions.

2.12.20 Marzipan

Ingredients (in parts by weight):

10
Sweet almonds
1
Bitter almonds
7
Honey
1.5
Rose water

Finely grind the peeled and blanched almonds. Add honey and rose water and then leave for a day. No baking is necessary. The rose water can be replaced with lemon or orange juice. The marzipan can be sold in all kinds of shapes and be covered with cocoa powder or dipped in chocolate. ft can also be coloured and used for decorations. The bitter almonds can be replaced by a few drops of bitter almond extract.

2.12.21 Honey in bakery products

Bread

For replacing sugar in any bread recipes see section 2.12.11. Only one simple bread recipe will be given here, as adapted from Crane (1980).

Ingredients (in parts by weight):

700
Wheat flour (whole wheat flour can be used)
450
Milk
7
Honey
20
Fresh yeast (or 5 dried yeast)
5
Salt

Mix the yeast and honey, add to the warm milk and leave for 10 minutes. Mix the shortening with the flour and the salt, then add the milk to form a smooth, elastic dough. Knead well and add water if necessary. Leave to rise for 2.5 hours (or until double in size) in a warm place (300C) and in a deep, greased, pre-warmed (300C) covered container. Then divide in two, knead lightly, leave to rest 10 minutes, form into loaves in baking tins, cover with a cloth (ensure that the cloth does not touch the dough) and allow it to rise in the same warm place again for an hour or until double in size. Then bake in a preheated oven at 220 0C for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Recipes with baking soda instead of yeast are much easier and quicker, since no rising is required, which is a phase very sensitive to disturbances.

Coconut oat cookies

Ingredients (in parts by weight) adapted from Crane (1980):

25
Margarine
20
Dried, shredded coconut
4.5
Honey
35
Brown sugar
30
Flour
0.4
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
25
Rolled oats
3
Warm water

Dissolve the baking soda in water. Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients. Melt the margarine and add the honey. Mix everything together in a bowl. Place small portions (tablespoon size) on a greased baking sheet, allowing space for spreading. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 1800C, or until the desired crunchiness is obtained.

Honey biscuits

Ingredients (in parts by weight):

3.5 Flour
Eggs (6 per kg flour)
1.2 Honey
0.1
Baking powder
25 Rolled oats
3
Warm water

Warm the butter, mix it with the honey and slowly add the other ingredients. Cool the dough before rolling out small amounts on a floured suiface. Cut out shapes of biscuits and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 200 0C.

Honey peanut butter cookies

Ingredients (in parts by volume):

10
Flour
4
Honey
4
Peanut (groundnut) butter
Eggs (8 per kg flour)
1
Margarine
0.1
Baking powder
2
Sugar
q.s.
Vanilla extract

Prepare peanut butter in a blender or grind finely. Mix the first three ingredients then add the rest one after the other. when smooth, leave for a few hours or refrigerate. Place small amounts (tablespoon size) on a greased baking sheet, allowing sufficient space for spreading and bake in a preheated oven at 165 0C for 7-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies, or until they are golden brown.

1 This Chapter is a joint effort between Lucia Piana and Rainer Krell with the former having provided the bulk of the information (in Italian, translated in part by L. Persano Oddo).

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