Friday, 19 June 2015

Handmade Saltwater Taffy

I mentioned in my last post (a short intro to our summer in Prince Edward Island) that I am so excited about my wild surroundings. It must be a symptom of city living, but I feel like everything in the yard is there for my eating and baking pleasure. It's all just a big nature buffet, and I've been foraging like a Toronto raccoon! Starting with the ocean! While walking on our local beach one cool and quiet morning last week, Chris and I gathered some sea water in a couple of mason jars, and I set out to make real salt water taffy. The result was delightful, a truly old-fashioned treat, much different from the waxy tasteless candies sold in gift shops today.

The process of making this candy is quite easy (this is a perfect first time candy-making project). Start by gathering some ocean water (this would be really fun to do with kids); once home, strain and boil it for a few minutes. Next, choose your flavour and colour(s). This is my favourite step, and an aspect of candy making that never gets old! Good flavour options for salt water taffy are coconut, orange, lemon, strawberry, spearmint, butter rum, or pineapple. But do experiment with your own favourite flavours, that's the best part!

Oh, and before you get started, there's just one more small thing- you have to pull the taffy by hand for, like, 15 minutes. It's a workout- something I normally wouldn't stand for- but at the end of this sweat session you have candy, so in this instance, and this instance only, I say work it out!

If using ocean water, gather some in a jar. Do not worry about picking up seaweed or sand in your container. At home, carefully strain the water through a coffee filter. Put the strained sea water in a pot on the stove top. Bring the sea water to a boil over high heat. Boil for at least 90 seconds.

Here is my recipe for real salt water taffy. In these instructions I explain how to create taffy that is a swirl of two colours. After adding the butter and flavouring, I split my batch into two sections, and coloured one white (no food colouring, just fluff) and one orange (fluff and food colouring). I flavoured the candy with orange and vanilla extract to create a summery 'orange creamsicle' taffy. In the end I pulled both sections at once to blend the two colours together and create a white and orange creamsicle swirl. Yum! 

If you would like to keep things simple, do not split the batch and just prepare a single colour. If you want to get crazy, split the batch into quarters or thirds, get out your food colouring and get ready to do some serious kneading!

A note about the ingredients: many taffy recipes do not call for the very wonderful 'fluff'. I tried preparing a batch without this nostalgic ingredient and I found that the fluff is what gives the taffy it's nice crisp and shiny whiteness. If you are making a one colour batch, say pink, you could leave it out. But if you are doing white, I say use it, or your candies will look a bit cream coloured. The fluff will help your homemade candy to look as pretty as store bought. 

And then there is the glycerine. Glycerine is a sugar alcohol, a sweet and sort of slippery substance that is used in many different products, from foods, to medications, to hair and body soaps. In this recipe, I use food grade glycerine to keep the taffy from getting too hard and sticky and to add shine. You can find it at bulk stores and baking supply shops. Also, if you are now leaving my blog in hot pursuit of Gavin Rossdale on Youtube, I totally understand.

Once candy is cut, package it in wax paper. Just place each taffy piece on a small square of wax paper, fold in two sides, and then twist off the ends. If you are in a very damp or humid climate, spray the wax paper with non-stick cooking spray or rub with coconut oil before packaging the candy pieces, as this will keep the taffy from sticking to the paper.