Sunday, March 1, 2009

Salt Water Taffy

Makes about 1 dozen pieces

3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for hands
1 teaspoon flavored extract (see Note) such as peppermint or vanilla
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Combine the water and salt in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the sugar, cornstarch, and corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Stop stirring, and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture reaches 265 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or when a small amount forms a firm but not hard ball when dropped in a glass of cold water.

2. Stir in the butter and pour the hot syrup onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the extract over the poured candy syrup. With a spatula or candy scraper, begin working the hot syrup by scraping it toward the center of the cookie sheet, getting under it, lifting and turning the mixture until it is cool enough to handle.

3. Grease your hands with butter or vegetable oil and begin pulling it up with your fingers into a length no more than 18 to 20 inches. Keep folding it back on itself and pulling out again. The taffy will be very sticky at first, but as you work it for about 10 minutes it will become opaque and firm.

4. When ridges form as you pull, gather the taffy together, pullout several ropes about 12 to 14 inches long, and let them fall on a clean surface that is lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Cut the ropes into 2-inch pieces, and wrap each piece in a square of wax paper. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Note: You can flavor taffy with flavored extracts such as anise, lemon, orange, peppermint, and winter- green. Look for extracts in large supermarkets or purchase them online from baking supply companies.

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