Cream candy. Every Thanksgiving, we make it again. It is always delicious, but the experience is always different, and unlike how I recall my father doing it.
This year I tried a couple of changes, and got a dramatically different result. However, no new pictures, unfortunately.
I found three videos for pulling cream candy:
Two ladies pulling together. This one is most similar to what I remember, although that is a much larger batch, and we never had two people pulling together.
A grandfather pulls, and his son cuts with scissors. This one is also a larger batch, and looks more firm than ours. Also, they are able to really take their time shaping it, and the scissors look painful. Ours would have turned solid much sooner, and is not nearly as hard to cut up as that.
A failed attempt by some other guy. I don't think he should have put it on waxed paper. I included this one because, well, it's kinda funny and demonstrates what can happen if you lack experience; seems familiar. :)
Planned changes for this year:
- Put a lid on the pot as it comes to an initial boil, to help wash sugar crystals off the sides of the pot.
- Take the temperature up to 265° instead of the original 250°.
I put on the lid, and set the temperature to med-high instead of med-low (oops). Meanwhile my brother and I discussed the temperature change. He was in favor of the original temperature, but I argued that Dad always tested the candy by dribbling in a glass of cold water. I think he was looking for a "soft ball", but am not sure. Then we debated what a "soft ball" really looks like.
Meanwhile, the candy came to a ripping good boil and was already turning caramel-colored before the lid was removed. At that point I set the temperature down to med-low and put in the thermometer. There were so many bubbles that the candy floated during the "dribble" test. We did the unthinkable: we stirred the pot, trying to get rid of some bubbles. Nothing disastrous happened, though. :) We managed to dribble some into the glass without bubbles, and fished it back out. It was soft and could be rolled into a ball. The temperature was 255°. We decided to pour it out to cool.
Next, we used some butter on our hands (not sure where that can of cooking spray got off to....) and tried picking it up. I could roll it into a blob, but it really wanted to stick to my hands. My brother took it, and it really glued to his hands. He kept pushing it back together, then pulling his hands apart. It looked nothing like those videos or our previous experiences.
After a relatively short while, he said it was starting to release from his fingers. A few minutes later, he announced that it was definitely warming up, and he set it down, I rolled the gooey blob into a nice long, smooth rope with a big lazy S shape to fit it on the mat, all the while thinking it did not seem done. Then, it started to turn solid! I was able to cut about 2/3 of it before it was solid, and was able to get pretty nice chunks out of the whole thing, very few crumbles!
The results: very creamy, yum! But compared to photos and the above videos, it was not the same. Smooth, no ridges at all. So, now what? The process seemed kind of wrong, but the result was good. What would happen if I took it to 265°? Was it bad to cook it at med-high at the beginning? Do I continue to try recapturing how Dad did it, or go forward with the ultra-sticky but faster results from this year? Too bad we don't know any other Cream Candy makers, to compare experiences. I may have to try again soon, rather than waiting another year. But, well, this recipe continues to entertain us. :)