Believe it or not, in all my years of baking I’ve never had a really bad burn. Sure, I’ve bumped my hand against an oven rack, or accidentally touched a hot saucepan on the stove but, while those things hurt (a lot), they weren’t the type of thing that made me scream out in pain or continuously dunk my hand in cold water. Nope, I’ve never been burned like that. Well, until yesterday, when I made salt water taffy for the fifty sweets of America.
Happy 2019! Today officially marks the end of our 50 sweets of America challenge! I was (quite literally) working on this challenge till the last minute but, I finished! I just have a few blog posts left to write and then I’m completely done with this challenge! If you still aren’t quite up to speed on what the Fifty Sweets Of America challenge is, let me remind you. Last year, in 2018 (I remember it like it was yesterday ;), we challenged ourselves to make 50 desserts. Each one to represent a different US state. Since 50 is a lot of desserts, we split it up and each made 25 of these (usually) delicious desserts. Today, it’s me, Karenna!
I honestly wasn’t surprised to be making salt water taffy to represent New Jersey. New Jersey (in particular, the jersey shore) is known for it’s beaches. And the boardwalks at all of those beaches are lined with souvenir stores where you can buy all the saltwater taffy your heart desires. It turns out, in 2014 a bill was proposed to make salt water taffy New Jerseys state candy. The NJ state assembly approved the bill.
Now, I know that homemade salt water taffy is notoriously known for being hard to make. I was expecting that. But I was also expecting my taffy to eventually turn out right…and it didn’t. My taffy was way too hard! Right away, I could barely pull the candy because it was so hard. And, five minutes later, I couldn’t pull it at all! It had become as hard as a rock. That’s when I microwaved the candy to see if I could melt it down a bit. It ended up melting for a few minutes, and then hardened right back up. And, as I mentioned at the beginning, that’s when I burned myself. I touched the burning hot taffy right after it came out of the microwave. And it hurt. A lot. Anyways, my guess on why the taffy came out so hard is that the recipe called for too much corn syrup, so maybe with less corn syrup it would’ve turned out? I’m not sure, but maybe it’s worth a shot.
Since my taffy never really became taffy I wasn’t able to taste it the way I normally do. I did however, manage to taste a small bit before it became rock solid and I could tell that if it had made it to being real taffy, it would have been good. The flavoring extract I used (orange extract) was enough to give the whole thing a nice, orange flavor that made the it flavorful, without being overpowering.
Fun fact: One story claims that the name ‘salt water taffy’ comes from a man in 1883 who’s candy store flooded. As it was flooding he saw all of his taffy washed up in ocean water. Later, a girl asked if he had any taffy for sale. The man responded that he only had ‘salt water taffy.’ She bought some anyways and proceeded to show it off. Since the mans mother liked the name, it stuck.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon flavoring extract
- 1/4 cup marshmallow cream
- 3 or 4 drops gel food coloring
- Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray/butter the pan.
- Stir together water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves.
- To prevent sugar crystals from forming, wash down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush.
- Once the syrup reaches a boil, insert a candy thermometer. Proceed to cook the syrup, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 255 F.
- Remove from the heat. Add the butter and flavoring. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is well-mixed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking sheet and allow it to spread out.
- Spread the marshmallow cream on top and add food coloring.
- Let cool until the candy starts to set around the edges. (5-10 mins)
- Slide a spatula under one edge of the candy. Fold it over the marshmallow cream. Fold the other sides toward the center as well, making a compact package.
- If you would like, put on food safe plastic gloves and cover them with butter or nonstick spray. Otherwise, wash your hands and cover your hands with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
- Gather the candy together and kneed it until the marshmallow cream is mixed in.
- Hold the candy in both hands, pull the candy apart, then bring your hands back together. Twist the candy together, then repeat. Candy will become firmer as you continue.
- Continue to pull candy for about 20 minutes until it is hard to pull and holds it’s shape. When you see parallel ridges, this is a sign the candy is ready.
- Roll the candy into a long thin rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter. (Divide the candy into quarters to make it easier to work with.)
- Using a knife or oiled kitchen shears, cut the taffy into 1-inch pieces.
- Wrap the taffy in waxed paper to help it keep it’s shape and not stick together.
Sources: Recipe from: The Spruce Eats