The Basics of Candy Making

Chocolates dusted with cocoa powder

Especially for those with a sweet tooth, there’s something so appealing about making your own candy from scratch. Understandably so, it may seem like a daunting task for someone who’s never dabbled in this cooking genre when they’re first getting started. While there’s certainly a lot to learn about making your own delicious servings of candy, this guide is a great place to start by learning the basics. Knowing these key ingredients and steps to begin the candy making process opens the door to endless sweet and colorful possibilities.

Essential Ingredients

Before you start mixing up the medicine, ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients on hand to successfully make candy.


Of course, you can’t have candy without sugar. Ensure you have a plethora of sugar varieties on hand, such as granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, and confectioner’s sugar. Make sure the sugars you use are not contaminated by another kitchen ingredientssuch as flour or saltfor best results.


There are a few other ingredients that do their part to make candy sweet. These most commonly are corn syrup and honey, so be sure to add them to your shopping list if they’re not in your pantry already.


A chef adding chocolate drizzles on top of nut covered chocolates

While they’re not included in all candy recipes, nuts are a great additive in many candy varieties. Ensure you have pecan halves, whole and sliced almonds, walnuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts readily available for all your candy making ventures.

Dairy Products

Dairy products commonly play a large role in making a decadent candy creation! Unsalted butter, heavy cream, whipping cream, half and half, and whole milk are important ingredients to keep on hand. These are ingredients that you may want to buy fresh before making a batch of candy since they expire more quickly than many of the other ingredients listed. As far as the butter goes, unsalted butter is most frequently the fat content of many candy recipes. Unless a recipe specifically calls for salted butter, stick to unsalted to avoid affecting the taste of your finished product.


Finally, you can’t discuss candy without touching on the genre of chocolate. Milk, dark, white, and unsweetened chocolate are all must-haves as well as cocoa powder.

Essential Equipment

Believe it or not, candy makers don’t need to invest in too much special equipment to make all of their candy dreams come true. There are only a few specialized items needed to be successful in this venture

Double Boiler

A double boiler is important as it assists largely in melting ingredients to create the perfect piece of candy. A double boiler is a saucepan that can be filled with water that has a fitted metal bowl that sits atop the saucepan. This allows you to put the meltable materials in the top bowl and slowly melt whatever it may be without overheating it and causing it to burn.

Candy Thermometer

Melted caramel in a pot with a candy thermometer

Especially for working with chocolate, a candy thermometer is a must. Any accurate thermometer will do as long as it has a range between 60 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. While candy thermometers are easier to use for this purpose, even an instant-read thermometer will be sufficient for many recipes.

Kitchen Scale

Cooking anything from scratch is made easier with the use of a kitchen scale, and making candy is no exception. This helps a lot in measuring out chopped chocolate. A scale that goes up to five pounds and that can be used in both ounces and grams is probably best.

Other Equipment

There are several other smaller pieces of kitchen equipment that make candy making easier. These include heavy glass mixing bowls, heat-proof spatulas in differing sizes, pastry bags and tips for piping, and perhaps even chocolate molds in whatever shapes you desire.

Tips for Working with Sugar

Melted sugar in a pot on a stove

Working with sugar in candy making is easy, and these tips take the guesswork out of it. First, always be careful when working with melted sugar as it can be extremely hot. Next, when testing the temperature of melting sugar, clean the thermometer after each testing by keeping it near the stove in a glass of lukewarm water. Finally, when taking the temperature of melting sugar, do not let the thermometer’s bulb touch the sides or the bottom of the pan to avoid receiving an inaccurate reading.

Tips for Working with Chocolate

Chocolate can be a bit trickier to work with than sugar. This is because it can be very temperamental when heat is added to the substance. To stay on the path to success when working with chocolate, first ensure that it never comes into contact with water during the melting process. Second, never place it directly over heat. Either of these actions could cause the chocolate to seize. If you’re melting chocolate in the microwave, do it in short intervalsstirring in betweento avoid overheating it which leads to seizing.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making your own delicious candy, starting with these basics provides a solid building block to creating your own sugar-coated oasis.