Author: Magdalena Marsden
This article was last updated on 5 May 2020
I've always been interested in traditional confectionery - pretty much all of my life I was on a quest for the perfect sweets, chocolates or bonbons. And I was always fascinated about the process of sweet's making and it was partly the reason why I founded Cocoa & Heartfew years back. All those demonstrations at seaside sweet's shops of how to make a stick of rock got me thinking, that perhaps I could have a go myself. And I did - successfully - made several batches of boiled sweets and now you can have a go too, following my step by step boiled sweets recipe tutorial.
If it still sounds a bit scary, I also run day one to one masterclass where I can take you through how to make traditional boiled sweets at home, step by step.
This is what you need to make your own boiled sweets at home
Boiled Sweets Equipment:
Marble slab (or large granite or marble chopping board, don't try to use anything else or it will melt)
Thermometer (for making jams or digital thermometer)
Palette knife or two
Strong kitchen scissors
450 g granulated sugar
150 ml water
15ml (1 table spoon) liquid glucose (any supermarket stock these in the baking section)
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Step by step instructions on how to make your own boiled sweets at home
Gently heat the sugar, liquid glucose and water in a heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream of tartar, bring to the boil and cover and boil for 3 minutes. Time the 3 minutes if you can. Than uncover and boil until the temperature reaches 143 C (the soft crack stage). Keep an eye on the thermometer, it takes anything up to 5 minutes to reach that temperature. Don't stir the sugar at this stage, otherwise it will crystallise.
Pour the syrup on to the oiled marble slab and leave it to cool for a bit. As the syrup cools lift the edges with an oiled palette knife and fold them into the centre. You need to do this several times, especially if your marble is not big enough and the syrup keeps running away.
So far, so good, but now comes the tricky bit. You need to oil your hands and start working with the syrup by pulling it and twisting in at the same time. And you need to work really fast - not only because the syrup cools down quickly, but also because it's really hot! Keep your hands oiled - it will help with the heat and you really don't want the hot syrup to stuck to your hands.
Keep pulling the mass of syrup and you will see that it becomes opaque - paler in colour and it will change to satin finish. When this happens, you need to be ready with oiled scissors and start cutting the rope up to a small (about 1cm) pieces.
When I first made this boiled sweets recipe, I was quite slow and by the time I got to the stage of cutting the sweets up, the syrup was too cold for me to cut them properly, so I just broke them up in pieces. You can also make longer twisted rock sticks.
If you want to add flavour or colour to your sweets, you need to do this at the end of the boiling stage - add few drops of food essence (mint, lemon or something similar) and few drops of food colouring to compliment the flavour. Don't try to add too much otherwise the sweets might taste a bit chemical.
I store mine sweets in airtight jam jar and didn't need to wrap them into anything at all. If they are perfectly made (e.i. the sugar was at the right temperature when you took it off the heat), the sweets stay 'dry' to touch and will not go 'soggy' unless you leave them out for too long. I kept one jar for quite a while and they were still find and perfectly tasting (and dry) few weeks after I made them.
This boiled sweets recipe is not for the faint hearted and I would not recommend it to somebody who has never worked with boiled sugar before, but it can be done and I'm a living proof that you can make boiled sweets at home. And if you like experimenting - then this recipe is definitely for you!
If you are brave enough to try these at home, I would love to know how you get on - leave me a comment - I'd like to hear from you!
PS. Not quite sure where to get the right equipment? I've done the research for you and here is my traditional sweets resource page, where you can find everything you need to start making your own sweets at home. I've also done quite a bit of research into Victorian Sweets, which is an era where traditional boiled sweets were invented and perfected. You can find more about Victorian Sweets here.
If you've liked this recipe and fancy trying another one, here is my Candy Cane Recipe with step by step instructions.
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