OK, so I'm trying to make fudge. The recipe which I'm following doesn't give all that much in the way of directions. So I'd like clarification of a few points, so I know what I'm aiming for.
Am I right in thinking that the objective is to heat the mixture as slowly as possible, and then cool it down again as slowly as possible?
Some sources seem to claim that you want to stir the mixture until everything disolves, and then stop stiring it and just let it boil. Is that correct?
The plan appears to be to heat the stuff until it hits the magic temperature of 115°C or 116°C (depending who you ask), and then stop heating it and let it cool down again. (?)
How crucial is it that it's exactly 116°C? I mean, obviously if it was way hotter or colder, that would be bad. But what kind of tolerance are we looking at? Is 2° either way going to matter, for example?
The recipe talks about letting the mixture cool for a while, and then stiring it "until the gloss finish disappears". Is it crucial exactly when you do this? Does it have to cool to a specific temperature or something? (I've seen recipies that seem to suggest constant stiring all the way through, and others that say to only stir once cool...)
In the past, I've bought fudge and left it unwrapped, and it dries out and becomes inedible. How do you stop this happening while you're waiting for your freshly cooked fudge to cool down? Should it not be a problem?
Flavourings should be added at the end. (?) Should it be while the mixture is still hot, or once it cools down a little? (Currently I'm using vanilla essence, but obviously I'd like to try some other things - if I ever get the fudge itself to work...)
I guess that's quite a lot of points for just one question, but I think it shouldn't be too hard to answer them all in a fairly short answer.
I like Kristina's suggestion that you research some of the basics of candy making. I'll answer those questions only briefly.
Generic Candy Questions
Losing the gloss
As I wrote in the other answer, the syrup is concentrated and then cooled to a super saturated state and not allowed to crystallize. When it has cooled sufficiently it is mixed like crazy to form your crystals all at once. When this happens the shiny, glossy syrup suddenly fills with crystals and becomes thick and loses the gloss.
It is important that the syrup be cooled enough that it is ready to crystallize at the drop of a hat. Again- if you stir it early, as it cools, you will end up with rock candy (more or less). I just leave my candy thermometer clipped on until the target temperature is reached. Make sure the thermometer is clean- one stray sugar crystal can ruin the batch.
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minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot mix into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add this back into the rest of what is in the pan. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and cook and whisk for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla till well mixed. Let cool a bit, whisk and pour into pie shell and set aside. Just after the last remove from heat and just before whisking in the butter, I needed a call of nature. When I got back the mixture had separated into what looked like curdled milk and an oily fat like substance
, the second one (after agar) being vanilla. I'm not sure whether this is normal or whether it might have been diluting the agar mix. I did notice that it did not seem to be gelling at all while it was coming down to room temperature. It was basically a soup until it had been refrigerated. Can anyone identify the most likely reason why this didn't work out? Did I use too little agar? Too much... Collection. It uses agar as the gelling agent and appears relatively easy to prepare (that's why I tried it). Basically you just dissolve some agar in warm water, orange juice, and lemon juice, add sugar