The utensils for candy making are few in number and simple in nature. As with all of the more elaborate foods, the fancy candies require slightly more unusual equipment, and even for the more ordinary kinds it is possible to buy convenient utensils that will make results a little more certain. But, as illustrated in here, which shows the general equipment for confection making, practically all the utensils required are to be found in every kitchen.
To boil the confectionery ingredients, a saucepan or a kettle is required. This may be made of copper or aluminum or of any of the various types of enamelware that are used for cooking utensils. One important requirement is that the surface of the pan be perfectly smooth. A pan that has become rough from usage or an enamelware pan that is chipped should not be used for the boiling of candy.
The size of the utensil to use depends on the kind and the amount of the mixture to be boiled. A sugar-and-water mixture does not require a pan much larger in size than is necessary to hold the mixture itself, for it does not expand much in boiling. However, a mixture containing milk, condensed milk, cream, or butter should be cooked in a pan much larger than is needed for the same quantity of sugar and water, for such a mixture expands greatly and is liable to boil over. The necessary size of the pan to be used should be overestimated rather than underestimated. In the cooking of candy, just as in the cooking of other foods, the surface exposed to the heat and the depth of the material to be cooked affect the rapidity of cooking and evaporation. Consequently, if rapid evaporation and quick cooking are desired, a pan that is broad and comparatively shallow should be used, rather than one that is narrow and deep.
Measuring cups and spoons, a spoon for stirring, and a knife are, of course, essential in making confections. Then, too, it is often convenient to have a metal spatula and a wooden spoon or spatula. When these utensils are made of wood, they are light in weight and consequently excellent for stirring and beating. If egg whites are used in the preparation of a confection, an egg whip is needed. When candy must be poured into a pan to harden, any variety of pan may be used, but generally one having square corners is the most satisfactory. Then if the candy is cut into squares, none of it will be wasted in the cutting.
A thermometer that registers as high as 300 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit is a valuable asset in candy making when recipes giving the temperature to which the boiling must be carried are followed. A degree of accuracy can be obtained in this way by the inexperienced candy maker that cannot be matched with the usual tests. A small thermometer may be used, but the larger the thermometer, the easier will it be to determine the degrees on the mercury column. A new thermometer should always be tested to determine its accuracy. To do this, stand the thermometer in a small vessel of warm water, place the vessel over a flame, and allow the water to boil. If the thermometer does not register 212 degrees at boiling, the number of degrees more or less must be taken into account whenever the thermometer is used. For instance, if the thermometer registers 208 degrees at boiling and a recipe requires candy to be boiled to 238 degrees, it will be necessary to boil the candy to 234 degrees because the thermometer registers 4 degrees lower than it should.
The double boiler also finds a place in candy making. For melting chocolate, coating for bonbons, or fondant for reception wafers, a utensil of this kind is necessary. One that will answer the purpose very well may be improvised by putting a smaller pan into a larger one containing water. In using one of this kind, however, an effort should be made to have the pans exactly suited to each other in size; otherwise, the water in the lower pan will be liable to splash into the pan containing the material that is being heated.
For the coating of bonbons, a coating fork, which is merely a thin wire twisted to make a handle with a loop at one end, is the most convenient utensil to use. However, this is not satisfactory for coating with chocolate, a different method being required for this material.
A number of candies, such as fondant, bonbon creams, and cream centers for chocolates, can be made much more satisfactorily if, after they are boiled, they are poured on a flat surface to cool. Such treatment permits them to cool as quickly as possible in a comparatively thin layer and thus helps to prevent crystallization. When only a small amount of candy is to be made, a large platter, which is the easiest utensil to procure, produces fairly good results. For larger amounts, as, for instance, when candy is being made to sell, some more convenient arrangement must be made. The most satisfactory thing that has been found for cooling purposes is a marble slab such as is found on an old-fashioned table or dresser. If one of these is not available, and the kitchen or pastry table has a vitrolite or other heavy top resembling porcelain, this will make a very good substitute.
To prevent the hot candy from running off after it is poured on a slab or any similar flat surface, a device of some kind should be provided. A very satisfactory one consists of four metal bars about 3/4 to 1 inch in width and thickness and as long as desired to fit the slab, but usually about 18 inches in length. They may be procured from a factory where steel and iron work is done, or they may be purchased from firms selling candy-making supplies. These bars are merely placed on top of the slab or flat surface with the corners carefully fitted and the candy is then poured in the space between the bars. When it is desired to pour out fudge, caramels, and similar candies to harden before cutting, the metal bars may be fitted together and then placed on the slab in such a way as to be most convenient. Fudge, however, may be cooled satisfactorily in the pan in which it is cooked if the cooling is done very rapidly.
A satisfactory cooling slab may be improvised by fastening four pieces of wood together so as to fit the outside edge of the slab and extend an inch or more above the surface. If such a device is used, plaster of Paris should be poured around the edge of the slab to fill any space between the wood and the slab. In using a slab or similar surface for purposes of this kind, a point that should be remembered is that a part of it should never be greased, but should be reserved for the cooling of fondant and certain kinds of center creams, which require only a moistened surface.
Many of the candies that are turned out on a flat surface must be worked to make them creamy. For this purpose, nothing is quite so satisfactory as a putty knife or a wallpaper scraper. If a platter is used, a putty knife is preferable, for it has a narrower blade than a wallpaper scraper; but where candy is made in quantity and a large slab is used, the larger scraper does the work better. For use with a platter, a spoon is perhaps the best utensil when a putty knife is not in supply.
Scales are valuable in candy making because they permit exact measurements to be made. However, they are not an actual necessity, for almost all recipes give the ingredients by measure, and even if this is not done, they may be purchased in the desired weight or transposed into equivalent measure. Scales, of course, are required if it is desired to weigh out candy in small amounts or in boxes after it is made.
Waxed paper is a valuable addition to candy-making supplies, there being many occasions for its use. For instance, caramels and certain other candies must be wrapped and waxed paper is the most suitable kind for this purpose. Then, too, chocolate-coated candies and bonbons must be placed on a smooth surface to which they will not stick. Waxed paper is largely used for this purpose, although candy makers often prefer white oilcloth, because its surface is ideal and it can be cleansed and used repeatedly. Often a candy- or cracker-box lining that has been pressed smooth with a warm iron may be utilized. For such purposes, as when reception wafers are to be dropped, it is necessary that the surface of the paper used be absolutely unwrinkled.