Dad is no longer here to help us make the candy right, and all I had was an ingredient list, about two lines of instructions, and my memories of watching him make it when I was little. Now when my brother and his family come to visit at Thanksgiving, we try making it, and I update the recipe once again. It's almost time to try again!
Finally, we caught a photo of the elusive cream candy. It mysteriously disappears within seconds of being cut...
This candy is soft, and yet crumbles when pinched, and has a smooth, creamy, melty mouth-feel. It has a delicate creamy, buttery, hint of caramel taste, and a texture similar to butter party mints. It might be good with vanilla or peppermint added during the pulling process, but is delicious unflavored.
While the technique is hard to pull off “just right”, it is none the less forgiving, entertaining for onlookers, and if not beautiful, always delicious.
(Kentucky) Cream Candy
Ingredients:1 c whipping cream
3 c sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c water
- Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water, and place nearby in case you get hot candy on your skin. If that happens, dunk into the water immediately.
- Place a glass of cold water and a spoon nearby. As the thermometer passes the various candy thresholds like thread, and soft ball, dribble some into the water and see what happens. It's fun to see it change, and you can fish out the blob and eat it. Dad always did this, and I’m sure it is vital to the process.
- Prepare a cooling place for the hot candy, either an 18”x24” heat-resistant silicone mat on a granite countertop, or any combo of baking pans making a total area of about 9”x18”, sparingly sprayed with cooking spray and then wiped off with a paper towel. Too much spray causes a terrible threaded, stringy mess that will try your patience when pulling the candy.
- In a very large pot, whisk cream, sugar, and soda until combined. Add water and salt, and whisk until combined.
- Cook over med-low heat, stirring only until it begins boiling. Using a lid at this early stage may help clean the sides of the pot. Once it begins to boil, stop stirring, and remove the lid. Cook until it reaches 250°. The temperature will rise and level off as the candy goes through various phases, and the color will change to a golden caramel. If you pull it off the heat too early, you will end up with something like caramel-flavored maple sugar candy, and it will never “pull” right or become creamy; perhaps there is something to the “dribble test”, after all. I'm giving up on using electronic thermometers on my induction stove. They all seem to wig out, and give inaccurate readings.
- Pour candy onto prepared surface. Do not bother scraping the pot when you pour, as this will cause an undesirable crystallized streak. After pouring out as much as possible, scrape the pot with one spoon for each “helper”, cool it in the cold water, and pass them out. Yum!
- Allow to cool until you can handle it without burning your hands. I let it even get to room temperature, and it still worked fine. Spray a tiny bit of butter or cooking spray on one hand, rub hands together to distribute, and pick up the candy. Do not hold onto it for long, and it should not stick to you. If you grease it too much, the candy becomes a horrible tangle of individual strands that look impossible to combine back into one mass. If this happens, patience will be rewarded; it will come back together eventually.
- Pull and fold and pull the candy, like a taffy puller would. Have a partner available to pass it to, because your arms will get tired. Or, have both people pull it together; this takes coordination, and is funny to watch. Don't hold it for too long or it will stick to your hands. Try to work all of the candy into the pull each time, rather than keeping the same portion in your hands. I read a post that suggested pulling as a ring, twisting it back into a smaller ring as it gets too large. It didn't work very well for us; it needs to be slapped back together, rather than just a twist.
- Pull until you think something must have gone wrong, and keep going. Then, pull some more. This aspect lends "exhibition" potential; think of it as a magic trick, to entertain family and friends. Have a cutting board and knife ready for when it is done.
- It eventually becomes more fragrant, lighter in color, and more "fogged" as you pull. Practice making a rope as cleanly as you can, getting it to pull into an even, ~1.5" dia rope before folding it over, so you can drop it quickly and cut it into nice little logs when it’s done. (Haha, good luck with that).
- When you think all is lost, and someone is genuinely convinced that it is a failure, it becomes extra oozy-feeling, and shiny. It will get a different feel as you pull. Then it will heat up; now is the time to stretch it out, lay it on a cutting board, and cut. We caught it go from a steady ~82° up to ~95°.
- The candy will suddenly change from soft and stretchy to brittle and crumbly in one brief, magical moment. Here’s hoping that is after you’re done cutting. If you don't stop pulling at the right time, it heats again, this time to ~105°, just before becoming solid and crumbly. We need to check and see if it heats up again even if you stop pulling, as I expect it does.
- If you failed, and instead have a mass of crumbles glued to your hands, crumble it off and break it into chunks. Now you have small, irregular pieces to enjoy. If it turns out gritty and grainy, store it and give it a few days. It should eventually lose the grittiness, and achieve the creamy mouth-feel.
- Cool, then put in an airtight container. I like a tight-lidded cookie tin, lined with wax paper. The texture improves overnight, but there may not be any left by then. I hear it’s good for several days, maybe more.