Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sea Glass Candy



On nice days--nice being a relative term in Seattle--the little Humble and I make the short trip down to the beach. It is one of her favorite activities outside of the house. She could spend the better part of the day beach combing at the shoreline, looking for interesting shells, rocks, sea glass and little dead crabs.

She really likes those smelly little crabs. Hopefully she grows out of that particular obsession soon.

Yes, this is a "nice" day...

I felt like doing some Northwest beach theme treats this week, since the little Humble and I will be resuming our beach trips soon. I know that other parts of the U.S. are up to their armpits in snow but in Seattle, the weather has been rather nice. That is to say, it hasn't been pouring rain.

For all you snowed in folks, the ones boggling at my choice of theme given the time of year, hopefully a little sea glass will remind you of warmer times to come.

I made four different colors/flavors this morning: Blueberry/Cobalt, Lemon/Clear, Key-Lime/Green, and my favorite Rootbeer/Brown.

I recommend using Lorann candy flavoring oils for this recipe. You can also use regular extracts but you will need to add slightly more, as they are not as concentrated as traditional candy oils.

This recipe calls for a candy thermometer. If you do not have one, you can still make this simple hard candy using the cold water test to monitor the temperatures. Be careful, I speak from experience when I say sugar syrup burns are no fun.

Not So Humble Sea Glass Candy:

yields roughly 3/4lb of candy
210 grams (1 cup) sugar
140 grams ( 1/3 cup) light corn syrup
85 grams (6 tablespoons) water
food coloring
1/2-1 teaspoon flavoring oil (depending on how strong you like the flavor)

non-stick cooking spray
powdered sugar for dusting

Lightly spray a small metal pan with non-stick spray. I'm using quarter sheet pans for my candy, however a 9x9" pan will work just fine. I don't recommend using ceramic or glass pans/casseroles because we'll be hitting the candy with a mallet later and well... you don't want real glass in your sea glass candy.

In a small non-stick sauce pan, weigh out the sugar, water and corn syrup and place over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. When it begins to simmer, wash down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush, attach your candy thermometer and sit back and watch. Just watch, no stirring.

When the mixture hits the 250°F range, go ahead and add your food colorings. I use gel coloring but regular colorings should work fine. Again, don't stir. The bubbling action will distribute the color for you. In fact, watching it spread is one of the more entertaining aspects of staring at a boiling pot of sugar for 10 minutes.



Once your thermometer* reads 300°F pull it off the heat and then add your flavoring and stir. Be careful as it will bubble and steam. Immediately pour the bubbling mixture into your prepared pan and allow to sit until cool.

Once it has fully cooled, cover with a piece of parchment paper and hit it with a mallet.


Collect the pieces and brush with powdered sugar. To store the candy, place in an air tight container and keep at room temperature.

Enjoy!

*(Check out the caramel comments for useful information about candy thermometer calibration and testing)

73 comments:

  1. Those look pretty spot on to the small pile of sea glass collected from SF sitting next to me. Beautiful work

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  2. ooo, this opens up whole new avenues of art! can you imagine mosaics made of sugar glass?!

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  3. My mother makes this same thing except with various spices for the holidays ex. cinnamon, clove, spearmint. I saw this and had to comment!

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  4. Wow, I'm stunned! It's the first time I see this kind of candy and it does look like glass!!

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  5. WHERE do You come up with these brilliant ideas?
    You Rock.

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  6. This would be so pretty to give away to guests at a seaside wedding!! I'll have to talk my husband into getting married again!

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  7. It's so pretty! Almost too pretty to eat.

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  8. These are adorable! I had some candy shells when I was little and it had bits like sea glass in the bag, I remember. Sort of forgot about them until I saw this!

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  9. I loved this stuff so much the first time I saw it as a child.

    I wish I still had my old rock tumbler. Then I could experiment with tumbling thick pieces of it with granulated sugar to see if I can get the true rounded edges.

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  10. Those candies are gorgeous! Love that photo of Little Humble at the beach; her outfit is just precious :) I grew up in Portland, OR so I know exactly what kind of weather you have to contend with!

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  11. your posts are so very beautiful...& elegant...
    & awesome...
    & i just *heart* this post...absolutely stunning candies...stunning!

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  12. Wow! These are absolutely beautiful. What a great idea. Love that photo of little HUmble, btw - my eldest is 7 and still likes dead crabs, although she prefers if they've dried out a bit and less smelly :)

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  13. What's there not to love about this post? The color, the texture, the flavor...you rock my sweet tooth world. I so enjoy visiting to see what the next sugar confection will be. I agree with S that this would make some amazing stained candy glass mosaics. Cheers!

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  14. So pretty! I made sea glass candy to put on my gingerbread sandcastle...When I broke the first sheet of candy my husband came running to the kitchen. He was relieved I did it on purpose :)

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  15. I have tried assorted flavor and they are wonderful candies. One word of caution, the peppermint oil, use with care, haha felt like I shot gunned Halls cough drops up my nose while stirring .
    Pam

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  16. Wow those lollies look great! I can just imagine them washed up on a beach somewhere.

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  17. Love it!!
    I look forward to your blog everyday.
    The sea glass candy makes me wonder if you have a recipe for ribbon candy. I always wondered how it is made. As a child we had this every year for Christmas.

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  18. Terrific imagination you have there lady. I particularly like this one, and the way you've re-imagined an everyday candy.

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  19. The cheesecake taffy that appears as your latest entry (in my blog list)won't come up. I get a "page does not exist" message. When I came to your blog by entering it in the address, that taffy entry doesn't appear either. This is the latest entry.

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  20. The cherry cheesecake taffy is today's post. It accidentally got submitted early due to a certain toddler slapping my keyboard. I quickly pulled it down, but it will go up again in a few hours when I have it finished.

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  21. Could you use honey or agave syrup instead of corn syrup? Or do you have any other suggestions if I don't want to use corn syrup?

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  22. very pretty! looks just like real sea glass but edible. very cool.

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  23. So beautiful! Your pictures make this candy look so elegant.

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  24. This candy is absolutely gorgeous! I am going to make this right away. I'm a Seattle area beachcomber myself and I think this is the perfect treat to celebrate the very "lovely" weather we've been having.

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  25. So pretty. I'm thinking reds and pinks with cinnamon for Valentine's day. Thanks for the idea.

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  26. I used to make these candies with my mom... I haven't thought about them for years! This was a fun blast from the past. I remember the candy tasting sooo sugary but soooo good!

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  27. How much flavouring did you use? I'm scared when I make it I'll put way too much since I'm not sure what the standard is.

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  28. Very, very lovely. I'm new to your blog, but I'll be back very soon. You have so much fantastic chemistry going on in your kitchen!

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  29. I forgot all about this candy. Used to make this with my grandparents when I was a kid. But we called it rock candy instead of sea glass. Probably becuase MN is no where near the sea.

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  30. Sarah,

    How much I use depends on the flavoring, as not all flavors are equally potent.

    For example, peppermint and cinnamon flavorings are generally stronger than say root beer or blueberry. So I add more or less to get the right balance.

    When adding the flavors you have roughly a minute to adjust the taste before pouring. Start out with maybe a 1/2 teaspoon and then dip a spoon into the syrup and run it under cold water. This will set the candy and make it cool enough to eat. Give it a taste to determine if you need to add a little more. Then pour into your pan.

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  31. great recipe - how long can you store the candy

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  32. I find it is best eaten within a week, stored in an air tight container.

    You can keep it much longer of course, as it won't technically spoil (its nearly pure sugar). However, it will absorb moisture from the air and eventually will lose some of its crisp texture.

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  33. These are so pretty! I LOVE sea glass and using them for jewelries, but now...I can actually eat them! This is perfect for a beach-themed party. Yay! Thank you.

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  34. This is fantastic! I make sea glass jewelry for a living. This would be a great party favor for the home parties that I do. What a great idea. www.madebymeg.net

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  35. I want to make this now - is it ok to substitute brown sugar? I don't have enough plain sugar and it's too cold to go to the store ;)

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  36. What about subbing powdered sugar for granulated?

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  37. Chip,

    I'm guessing here, but I think both of those could be substituted (provided your powdered sugar isn't laced with starch). I would go by weight rather than volume with both of those though, for obvious reasons.

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  38. Oh and go for light brown sugar, over dark brown (if you have the choice). I have a feeling the molasses in the brown sugar might result in a somewhat less crisp hard candy, or one that may absorb moisture a bit quicker.

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  39. I found a couple of answers online that said you can substitute confectioner's sugar 1.75 to 1 for granulated. I went with brown sugar instead. That pretty much eliminated the opportunity to use coloring or flavoring. But, after it was done I still had glass. Not pretty and colorful sea glass, more like a broken beer bottle from that murky corner of the beach where all the bad kids hang out. Anyway, I must have done something wrong because it came out too much like glass - sharp edges, splintering. Too sharp to give to my kids in any case. I'll try again after I buy some more granulated sugar, but my wife and I think we may try the Big Mac(aroons) next!

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  40. Yea, that broken glass from the bad kid's beach is always the sharpest.

    The syrup may have gone over 300°F if you got really brittle sea glass. Of course, it can be hard to tell with brown sugar, as you wouldn't notice the syrup beginning to caramelize and it creeps beyond 300°F.

    Or perhaps it was a thin sheet of candy?

    I learned early on that the best way to avoid equipping your kids with candy daggers, is to pour the syrup into a slightly smaller pan. The thicker the candy, the less likely you will produce menacing candy shanks.

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  41. I love this candy, I have never seen this before, my nephews and nieces would love this

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  42. Hi, just thought I'd drop this tip for those of us who can't find corn syrup or other glucose sources: cream of tartar will turn regular sugar (sucrose) into glucose. Add about a teaspoon per cup of sugar you want to "transform". :) (If a recipe calls for just a spoonful or so of corn syrup, just add a bit of cream of tartar to the sugar that's likely already in the recipe.)

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  43. (Correction: cream of tartar turns sucrose into glucose and fructose, to be exact.)

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  44. Yeah - I'm betting it went over 300 deg (we don't have a candy thermometer ... yet!)

    I poured it into a 9x9 pan which gave a pretty nice thickness of a little less than a quarter of an inch. It wasn't brittle, really - in fact, many pieces were quite pliant.

    I think the rock tumbling for round edges would have helped. But, I won't be trying it with brown sugar again - caramelly to the extreme. We'll see how I fare with regular sugar (and a thermometer!) :)

    (HA! My comment verification code was "ingest" - how apropos!)

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  45. We used to make Stained Glass cookies when I was a child--make the shape of a window in cookie dough and cut out the inside. Then you smash up some lollipops and sprinkle the bits in the inside of the "window". Bake as usual, and the lollipop bits would melt together and be very beautiful, especially if you leave a small hole and hang them from a christmas tree with a light behind.
    So it strikes me that a quick&dirty version of this would be to smash lollipops, bake them in a pan, then cool & break.
    Not as satisfying, and not as pretty, but somewhat quicker in a pinch.
    Oh, and do try the cookies sometime, they're lovely.

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  46. I have never heard of this candy before, I am so excited to try my hand at making it. And your pictures are beautiful!

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  47. this is NIC CANDY i saw it thanks

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  48. I made it last night, with much success. Though I found that some flavours are not as strong as others. Mint: Strong. Lemon, Sort of tame. But it was fun and the results were good and it wasn't difficult at all.

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  49. This is going to be my first experiment with my new candy thermometer! Thanks! :)

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  50. "She really likes those smelly little crabs. Hopefully she grows out of that particular obsession soon."

    Why?

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  51. I prefer my child not to smell like dead critters.

    Just a personal preference.

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  52. I'm making your sea glass this weekend. I just can't resist these sweet treats. Not So Humble Pie is poisoning my mind with sugar. And I like it. Thanks for this recipe!

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  53. I just made this candy to take with me to see my grandma and east coast relatives. We used to collect sea glass and she used to bring me sea glass from her travels around the world. I think she'll be really touched, even though at 96, she may not eat it, but the other family will.

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  54. I wanted to report back after my trip back east. The sea glass candy was a huge hit. All of my cousins and my aunt were especially touched by the gesture because they knew how special sea glass is to my grandma. She just loved it and was amazed that it was candy. She kept asking "Can I eat it?" and she did! Thanks again for this recipe. It will have a special place in my heart and in my recipe box :D

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  55. That's just wonderful, Shari. I'm so happy everyone enjoyed it.

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  56. Wow this is awesome. I've been wondering what to do for wedding favors. my wedding is not a beach theme or by the beach but my colors are sea glass and I am using sea glass to decorate and some oyster shells so this favor is going to fit right in and be so unique! I can't wait to make them!

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  57. love the idea of it -- first time making for a snack in an out of town hotel gift bag for a beach wedding theme. My only problem was after it was made ahead of time, i placed in the fridge -- maybe i should not have and it sweated and is extremely sticky. I am trying now to sit it on the counter to see if it dries. Any suggestions for humid new england weather?

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  58. May2194,

    Ah yes, the fridge is unfortunately one of the worst places to store hard candies. Hard candy is naturally hygroscopic, meaning it will absorb moisture from the air. As refrigerators are often very humid places, the candy will absorb a ton of moisture and turn into the sticky, gummy mess you have now.

    Unfortunately it cannot be dried out. Once the moisture is in the candy it stays there.

    The best way to keep the candy hard and crisp is to make it on a day with relatively low humidity. This can be difficult in some parts of the country, I know but try to pick a day where the humidity isn't so bad. Once you've made the candy, store it in an air tight container at room temperature. If you have a FoodSaver system or other vacuum sealer, a vacuum sealed bag does a good job to prevent the candy from absorbing any moisture from the air in a humid climate.

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  59. I'm a little late to the party, but here goes!

    I grew up in Anacortes near the San Juans and spent a vast amount of time on the water as a kid. Beach combing is still one of my favorite activities so it made sense that my wedding for next July should be PNW Beach themed!

    This sea glass candy will make a beautiful addition to my beach rock and driftwood centerpieces.

    Do you by any chance offer your amazing baking skills up for commission?

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  60. I'm headed to the North American Sea Glass festival this weekend and I'm going to try my hand at this recipe this week.

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  61. Great!!
    I work with seaglass, doing jewels, already for some years, and i am always looking for new things to do with them, and now i find sea glass CANDY!!!
    I will certainly try to do this, can be an excelent giveaway at my jewelry shows!

    http://www.gatearte.com

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  62. Hullo from new England, Ive been hunting sea glass over here for years and found this awesome recipe. Just made my first batch with a 9 x 13in sheet pan (which some site said was quarter size.) It tastes great but it didnt spread out to the edges of the pan, so I was wondering if I was missing a step? Thanks in advance for the help and thanks again for the recipe ^^

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  63. Little humble looks like one of your marshmallow neopolitans!

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  64. I tried this just now but for some reason I burned it. I do have a candy thermometer and I did do the boiling water test (it appeared to be fairly accurate -1°C). When I made it it didn't even reach the 300°F before it turned too dark and started smelling burned..

    Maybe the heat was too high?

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  65. lunarnemuria,

    Burning (caramelization) only occurs at 320 to 356°F, so the mixture got a little hot. Your thermometer may be accurate, however a shallow sugar syrup can be harder to read than a pot of boiling water depending on how deep the probe needs to be submerged. Some probes require up to 1.5" being submerged to take an accurate temperature.

    Using the cold water test during the process will let you monitor the temperatures too. Just drop a little syrup into ice water, let it cool and then check on it. If the candy threads are hard and brittle that break and don't bend, ignore the thermometer, it's done.

    When it comes to hard candies. You can pretty much assume the syrup is done (or overdone) when it begins to take on color. If you're having a hard time with the cooking temps even with the cold water test, my advice is to cook the syrup without food coloring, watch it like a hawk and then when it takes on the barest hint of ANY yellow or blonde coloring (hitting close to 320°F) you immediately remove from heat, stir in your color and flavoring and then pour. You risk having a note of toffee flavor in your candy, depending on how late you catch the colorings, but it allows you to avoid monitoring temperatures all together.

    As for the heat being too high, possible. Once most of the water evaporates out of the sugar syrup it can burn very quickly if over high heat. Medium heat takes longer, but it gives us a chance to react once the sugar comes to the correct temperature.

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  66. You are correct. I tried it once more today and put the heat on very low, it took ages and started turning a light amber colour at around 220°F. I was using the smallest pan we had but apparently it wasn't small enough. I thought the probe was in enough but my mom disagreed so I tilted the pot. It immediately shot up to 290°F. Oops.. I'm currently looking for a smaller pot xD

    And it did turn out ok in the end! I used a pear flavouring from an asian supermarket and it tastes like candy canes. It's amazing!

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  67. I really hope you don't mind, but I have shared your recipe on my website: http://www.seasparkle.co.uk/blog/
    It's such a great idea!

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  68. I just made this in Christmas colors and flavors for my daughter to give to her friends and teachers at school! It is GORGEOUS! I would like to know how to get the actual "clear/white" look. I tried but mine still became a faint yellow/amber color. Thanks for sharing! I'm excited to let this be passed around!

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  69. Cheryl,

    If the candy starts to turn a faint yellow it has gone over temperature. Sugar takes on color when all the water has evaporated and the sugar begins to caramelize.

    To get clear candy, simply double check the calibration of your candy thermometer so it doesn't get too hot again and then have another go at it. You can also mind the color of the sugar visually when working with untinted batches. If your candy starts to pick up even the barest hint of yellow while in the pan, whisk it off the heat immediately. At that point it is most certainly done.

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  70. omg I LOVE this<3 it came out just the way it looked in your photos and I didn't even need the thermometer:) thanks for this wonderful recipe,i'll be making more of these sea-glass candies next time^.^ - Jamie.

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