It’s Tip Friday on Marilyn’s Treats. And todays tip is Cooking Sugar Syrups.
Cooking Sugar Syrups
Several recipes on my site call for sugar syrups to be cooked to a specific temperature in order to make marshmallows, meringues, or caramels. When sugar and water are combined and cooked, the water evaporates as the mixture boils. This concentrates the sugar in the solution, and allows the temperature of the syrup to climb. By stopping the cooking process at different points along the way, sugar will behave differently. These stages can be identified with a candy thermometer, or by certain physical characteristics. The chart below shows some of the most commonly called for stages of cooking sugar, what they’re used for, and how the sugar behaves at each temperature.
COMMON STAGES FOR COOKING SUGAR SYRUPS
235-240°F – Soft ball When 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar syrup is dropped into a dish of cold water, it can be shaped into a pliable ball. Fudge, pralines, seven-minute frosting, classic buttercream frosting, and Italian meringues.
245-250°F – Firm ball When 1/4 teaspoon of hot syrup is dropped into a dish of cold water, it will form a firm ball that doesn’t flatten when removed from the water, but will compress when squeezed. Soft caramels
250-265°F – Hard ball Hot syrup will form thick threads when dripped from a spoon. Marshmallows, divinity, rock candy, nougat
270-290°F – Soft crack Hot syrup dropped into ice water can be separated into hard threads. When taken out of water, they’ll bend slightly before breaking. Taffy
300-310°F – Hard crack Hot syrup dropped into ice water separates into hard, brittle threads that break without bending. Toffee, nut brittles, stained glass cookie filling or lollipops
338°F – Caramelized 1/4 teaspoon of hot caramel will make a brittle ball in cold water. The clear syrup begins to turn brown, and more complex flavor compounds begin to form. The sugar gets less sweet as it continues to cook.
This article is part of the Tips That Help in the Kitchen Series, Tip Friday.