Candy Thermometers

Written by Ingrid Chen
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Any good chef knows that in order to make various desserts and candies, most substances require a precise temperature in order to create the correct texture. The temperature for a brittle, for example, will be much higher than that required for fudge or toffee. It's also important to have a thermometer when planning on keeping a substance a consistent temperature for a long period of time, such as syrups for dipping or oils for frying.

Candy Temperature Specifications

The different types of candy textures are as follows: soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack and hard crack. These textures are based on what a small amount of the substance will do when dropped into cold water. Soft ball stage (fudges and maples, for example) does not hold its shape, and the temperature should be between 234° to 240° F. Firm ball stage (246° to 248° F, such as caramels) holds its shape but is still very pliable. Hard ball stage (250° to 268° F, such as taffy) is just slightly pliable. At the soft crack stage (270° to 290° F), the substance hardens in cold water, like toffees. At the hard crack stage (300° to 210° F), the substance is brittle enough to be broken into bits.

Although various types of thermometers are available, the easiest ones to read are dial-faced thermometers. These have a dial that sits horizontally on top of the gauge for easy reading. They will normally go up to 400° F, and thus can be used for reading hot oil temperatures as well. It is handy to have a thermometer that clips onto the side of the container so it stays still and reads the temperature while heating. Free standing devices work just as well for smaller containers.

Candy thermometers can be purchased at many cookware shops and equipment stores. Concession supply stores commonly carry these and other accessories. When purchasing a deep fryer or candy apple stove, don't forget the importance of cooking temperature!

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