You can easily make delicious syrup at home.

Peter Blottman

Q. Is there any easy way for me to make syrup at home?

A. Yes! You can easily make syrup yourself. Combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water in a microwavable bowl or 4-cup glass measure. Heat at HIGH 6 minutes or until mixture boils. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in 1 teaspoon maple extract. Refrigerate leftover syrup. Makes 2 cups.

 

Q. What does it mean to cook syrup to a "soft-ball stage"?

A. Most of the classic candies -- fudges, fondants, caramels, toffees, and brittles -- start from a boiling syrup of sugar and water. To achieve proper candy consistency, the syrup must be heated to the proper temperature. Typically the recipe will indicate both a temperature and (for cooks who don't have a candy thermometer) a stage: soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack, or hard crack.

To determine the stage, pour a small amount of the hot syrup into a cup of cold water. Then, using your fingers, remove the cooled syrup. At soft-ball stage, the syrup can be rolled into a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water. At firm-ball stage, the syrup can be rolled into a firm ball that does not flatten immediately. At hard-ball stage, the syrup can be rolled into a firm ball that gives some resistance when pressed.

Candy cooked to soft-crack stage can be stretched into threads that are hard but elastic. At hard-crack, the threads are hard and brittle, and break easily.

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