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An Old-Fashioned Halloween Idea: Have a Taffy Pull

October 25, 1990|JOAN DRAKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The resurgence of Halloween parties not only assures children's safety but also offers a chance to have some old-fashioned fun. Remember making taffy? Pulling the candy takes time and strong arms, so everyone can get in on the action.

Taffy is made with sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and butter, cooked over low heat to between the hard-ball and soft-crack stage. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then cook, uncovered, without stirring until it reaches 265 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Before beginning to work with the candy, have participants remove finger rings--the candy has been known to pull out settings. Then everyone should wash their hands with hot soapy water and rinse and dry them well.

Pour the hot syrup onto a heat-proof surface (Step 1) such as a marble slab, large ironstone platter or heavy metal tray. Hold the pouring edge of the pan away from you and only a few inches above the slab so the extremely hot syrup doesn't spatter.

Do not scrape the pan. Filling it immediately with hot water will ease cleanup.

At this point the candy is too hot to touch with your hands, so use a buttered metal spatula to begin working the mixture into a mass. Lift the edges and fold them inward (Step 2).

As the candy cools it begins to become opaque (Step 3). Keep in mind, however, that although it may have cooled on the surface, the center is apt to still be very hot.

When the candy has cooled enough to handle, start pulling it with buttered fingertips. (The mass may be divided at this point so several people can help with the pulling.) Stretch to about 18 inches, then fold the candy back on itself.

Repeat the rhythmic pulling until the candy takes on the appearance of a glistening crystal ribbon. At this stage begin twisting the candy (Step 4) as well as pulling and folding.

Pulling can take from five to 20 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room and the speed at which it is pulled. This pulling process incorporates air into the taffy and gives it a lighter texture.

The candy is finished when the ridges on the twist begin to hold their shape and the mass is opaque and elastic, but still has a satiny finish. Another test for readiness is when the end cracks off as the candy is tapped against a hard surface (Step 5).

Form the candy back into a ball and press it into a narrow point at the fingertip end. Grasping the point in one hand, pull it away from the rest of the ball into a long rope about one inch thick.

Cut the taffy with buttered scissors (Step 6) into the desired size pieces. Wrap in plastic (Step 7) to prevent it from becoming soft and sticky during storage.

TAFFY

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and butter in 3-quart saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter melted.

Cook mixture, without stirring, to 265 degrees on candy thermometer. Remove from heat.

Holding pouring edge of pan pointed away from body and close to surface, pour syrup onto buttered marble slab. Do not scrape pan.

Allow syrup to spread and cool briefly, then begin working candy into mass by lifting edges with buttered metal spatula. Fold edges inward.

When candy has cooled enough to handle, start pulling with buttered fingertips. (Mass may be divided and pulled by more than 1 person.) Stretch to about 18 inches, then fold candy back on itself.

Repeat rhythmic pulling until candy takes on appearance of glistening crystal ribbon. Then begin twisting candy as well as pulling and folding.

Candy is finished when ridges on twist begin to hold shape and mass is opaque and elastic, but still has satiny finish. Another test for readiness is when end cracks off as candy is tapped against hard surface.

Form candy back into ball and press into narrow point at fingertip end. Grasping point in 1 hand, pull away from rest of ball into long rope about 1 inch thick.

Cut taffy with buttered scissors into desired size pieces. Wrap in plastic to prevent candy from becoming soft and sticky during storage and keep pieces from sticking to one another. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds.

Note: Large ironstone platter or heavy metal tray may be substituted for marble slab.

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