Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I have so much appreciation for those old taffy-pulling machines you used to see when you got off the subway in Coney Island. When we made taffy the night before last we pulled it by hand!!
My friend Joe, the wild man of making and baking using essential oils, absolutes (yes, absolutes,) city harvested berries, and the like, showed up at my New Year’s get together with a bag of impossible things. Salt water taffy! Remember that chewy, fragrant candy wrapped in wax paper, the one that threatens to pull out your dental work? It’s a traditional American candy although not so well known these days. It’s usually associated with beaches, as in as in beaches with boardwalks, and to me that means east coast but I think it’s found in some spots of northern California and Oregon as well. Not a Santa Barbara thing. Seems like it’s associated with roller coasters.
Anyway, these candies were mimosa/jasmine, made with the absolutes, and they are strong and fragrant like you can’t believe. The whole house rocked with redolence as we tried them. I was up at Joe's place two nights later to make more, this time mimosa and ginger.
Salt water taffy is a little more difficult than the hard candy we made before, a little more touchy. Like a soufflé perhaps. Kinda.
14 ½ oz sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 cup karo syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt (hence the name salt water taffy)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
essential oil flavoring—we used about ¼ teaspoon ginger oil and a pea sized dollop of mimosa absolute
a few drops food coloring, why not?
Powdered (icing) sugar to dust the cookie sheet with at the end (optional)
Then you need to have
A non-stick (preferably) cookie sheet lined with plastic lined freezer paper, which you have buttered.
Pot, about 4 qt
Wax paper cut to size
Clean hands or even gloves (if you use gloves, butter them)
Let me say it again. Clean hands. Salt water taffy will clean your hands very well so unless you want nyc subway flavored taffy, or 14th street flavored taffy or escalator handle favored taffy something equally as disgusting, wash your hands again.
Combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and vinegar in a 4 qt pot over medium heat. (if you’re cooking in a reactive metal, then wait to add the vinegar until almost ready.)
After it boils, put in the candy thermometer. You want the temperature to rise to 200F (93 C.) let it boil.
When it reaches 200 F then take the pot off heat, add butter, essential oils and food color and stir with the whisk. Pour it onto cookie sheet.
The mimosa absolute, which is quite hard, melted in about 30 seconds.
Let it cool until you can deal.
We forgot to put in the butter and so ran it over the top as the mass cooled on the cookie sheet.
Then, when it’s cool enough to touch, you can scrape it off the plastic lined freezer paper and start pulling and twisting it. Pull and twist, pull and twist, as long as you can pull, and as twisty as you can. The aeration will give it a silvery sheen and that will cut through the color a bit so be bold with your colors.
Keep twisting and pulling, and you can even butter your hands a bit. It will help. The taffy will stick to your hands like oobleck, like you can never get loose, but it will start to coalesce as time passes and prefer sticking to itself.
Eventually it will become cool and less pliable. Then it’s time to fashion it into long ropes and just cut it with scissors and let pieces rest on a non-stick cookie sheet. Joe’s previous batch was stickier, so he dusted the cookie sheet with powdered (icing) sugar. I like the effect of it, personally.
Don’t let the pieces touch! Once they kiss you will have a hard time prying them apart.
You can cut some wax paper up in pieces maybe 2 x 2 inches. This can change, depending on fast you get the hang of it.
Posted by Trygve Harris at 1:46 PM