Reasons For Hard Candy Failures

Why is my hard candy grainy and not smooth?

The problem is that crystals of sugar were re-introduced into the liquid candy. This will cause your candy to crystallize and become grainy. To prevent this, (stove-top method only) wipe down the inner sides of your pan a few times with a wet pastry brush while your candy is boiling. An alternate method is to place a lid on the pan for about 3 minutes at the beginning of boiling. The idea is that condensed water, trapped by the lid will wash-down the sides of the pan.When making hard candy using the microwave method, always use a clean spoon to stir the candy after it has been cooked.

Another tip is to not add too much citric acid, as this can cause the candy to break down (and become grainy). Generally, ¼ teaspoon of citric acid is all that is needed per pound of candy.

Why is my hard candy soft and sticky?

The simple answer is that there is too much moisture in your candy. One or more factors could be contributing to this problem. In hard candy making, it is important to cook all the water out of the sugar/corn syrup/water mixture. If the sugar mixture is not cooked to the proper temperature (the hard-crack stage 300-310° F {149-154° C.} or if you are working in a kitchen with high humidity, chances are your candy is retaining too much moisture.

Here are some suggested solutions:

  • If using the stove-top recipe, add liquid food coloring when sugar syrup reaches 260ºF. This will allow the extra moisture to have a chance to boil-off as the syrup continues to cook to the hard-crack stage.
  • Make sure your thermometer is correct. Check your candy thermometer accuracy by placing it in water and bringing the water to a boil. The thermometer should read 212° F {100° C.}; if the reading is higher or lower, take the difference into account when testing the temperature of your sugar syrup.
  • If using the microwave recipe, try increasing your cooking time. The liquid candy should be pale yellow in color after it has been cooked for the second time.
  • When completely cool, dust your candy with powdered sugar, and wrap your candy so that it is not exposed to the air. Double wrap poly bags or wax paper will give you better protection.
  • Kitchens can be hot and humid, therefore, make sure the air conditioning is on, or utilize a fan to blow cooler air over the cooking area.
  • Do not try to cool your candy in the refrigerator. Do not store hard candy in the refrigerator.