Baking and cooking with children can be a marvellous experience, but getting them into it can be difficult – making your own sweets can get them into the kitchen and provide a wonderful portal to further culinary adventures. Alternatively, making your own sweets can allow you to make delightful, personalised treats for your friends and relatives. Here are three simple ways to get started making your own sweeties. Who knows where it may lead?
First of all, cinder toffee is honestly the simplest recipe imaginable. It’s a wonderful recipe that allows for a bit of fizz and bang, and comes out perfect every time. Give it a go, and you’ll soon have a happy household, jaws glued shut with picture-perfect cinder toffee! Simply mix 100g of caster sugar with 4 tablespoons of golden syrup in a pan.
Put it on the heat, and leave it for about three minutes. Don’t stop watching it, but don’t stir it or otherwise interfere with it, either! This can be so difficult, especially if you’re a fusspot like myself, but it really is necessary. After around three minutes, the lot will be boiling, bubbling frothily away and turning to a dark-golden colour. At this point, take it off the heat and beat in a teaspoon and a half of bicarbonate of soda. It will froth up and fizz in an amazing display! Pour it into a tray lined with baking paper and leave to cool before bashing it up into shards and eating the delicious result. Couldn’t be simpler!
Borstplaat is a traditional Dutch treat. Flavour-wise, it is reminiscent of solidified hot chocolate, but in texture it is soft and brittle and really divine. Mix 500g of sugar with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 150ml of milk. Bring to a boil over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Leave it to boil (stirring regularly) for about ten minutes, or until a drop falling from the spoon will pull a thread along (it will be quite liquid when it achieves this point, so don’t expect it to thicken a great deal at this stage). Take the lot off the heat and stir continuously until the bubbles go down entirely and the mixture takes on a darker cast. Pour it into a baking-paper tray and leave to cool and harden on top before turning over and peeling the paper off. Now leave it to cool and harden on the bottom. It will remain quite brittle when done, and can easily be broken up into pieces, but more experienced producers of this delicious treat will be able to use biscuit-cutouts rinsed in cold water and perched atop baking paper to make shaped ones.
Finally, boiled sweets are not as difficult as you may expect, especially if you purchase a food thermometer. Sainsbury’s sell a good one for £10.50 – you’ll need one that goes up to about 320 degrees Fahrenheit as the hard-crack point for these sweets is between 300 and 310 degrees. Mix two cups of sugar and a cup of golden syrup in a pan and bring to a boil. Cover and leave to boil away for about three minutes.
Check with your thermometer that it is between 300 and 310 degrees, then take off the heat and add any colouring and flavouring you’d like whilst mixing well (be careful – adding cold flavourings and colourings to it at this stage will cause some spattering) and pour it into a dish lined with baking paper. Leave to cool and harden, then shatter and eat the chunks. Later on, you can learn how to pull it so you can make more purposeful shapes!
Making sweets is a lot easier than people tend to assume. Get into it with these simple recipes and before you know it, even the most kitchen-phobic person will be tying him- or herself to the kitchen counter!