30 October 2010

Tea Candy Recipe

A generous gift from a friend has started me on a culinary adventure ... here's how it all started.

Last week the lovely Stacie sent me this very thoughtful gift, with a beautiful card, audio book (seeing as reading is still a challenge for me) of A History of Hand Knitting, and a handful of lollies. (Thank you Stacie! You rock!)

See what they are? TEA flavoured candy! Nom nom nom!!

I immediately searched online to see if anyone in Australia sold anything similar, but I haven't found anything. So the next stop was to find a recipe. I found this one, and gave it a try. The toffees ended up a little too chewy (ie tooth breaking!) and the tea flavour was very weak/non-existent. In the second batch I cooked the syrup to a slightly higher temperature, and got a better hard consistency. But the tea flavour was still too faint.

After several batches and various trials and tribulations, here is my final recipe. I hope you enjoy it too!

Jejune's Tea Candy

Equipment

  • Large heavy saucepan
  • Metal spoon
  • Candy thermometer (essential!!)
  • Baking tray
Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 100 ml glucose syrup (115g) or light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup tea essence (recipe below)
This quantity makes a small batch, about 270g of candy. The recipe can easily be doubled or even quadrupled. NB : bigger batches will take longer to cook, a quadruple batch takes close to an hour to get to 164ºC (as opposed to 20 minutes for a small batch).

First of all, make the tea essence:

Tea Essence
Put ~1/8 cup loose tea leaves, or 6 tea bags into a heatproof bowl or mug. I used regular black tea, but use whatever your favourite is!

Pour boiling water over - you need about 1/3 cup of liquid for the candy, so add at least 2/3 cup of boiling water (as the tea leaves will sop up a fair bit of the water). Let this mixture sit for at least 10 minutes. You can also boil it in the microwave for a few minutes to further concentrate the tea flavour. The stronger the better! Strain the tea leaves out just before you use it.

Method

1. Place all ingredients (sugar, glucose syrup, tea essence) in the saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. Put the candy thermometer into the pan, so the base is sitting in the syrup.

2. Bring the syrup to the boil. This is a Thou Shalt Never Leave the Kitchen recipe ... you can do other stuff while the syrup boils (you know the dishes need washing), but do not leave it! The syrup should just be bubbling along nicely on medium heat. You don't need to stir it.

3. Use the pastry brush dipped in water to wash any stray crystals off the sides of the saucepan back into the mixture.

4. While the syrup boils, prepare the pan - you can line it with foil if you like (not essential). The main thing to do is grease the tin with a plain vegetable oil like canola or sunflower oil. You can also use mini muffin tins, candy forms, a gem scone tray, or other metal pans as the mood takes you.

5. Keep a close eye on the temperature! The magic number is 164ºC (330ºF). This will give you a hard crack candy, without burning the sugar. I found that while a plain syrup set well at 168º, when I added the tea essence at the start of cooking (rather than at the end, as per the original recipe I tried) 168º was too hot and burnt the candy.

From the start of cooking to reaching the end point of 164º takes me about 20 minutes (using a gas stove on medium heat). A quadruple batch will take close on an hour.

6. When the syrup reaches 164ºC, turn off the heat and gently pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

7. After about 5 minutes, score the candy with a sharp knife. The window of opportunity for scoring the candy is only about 5 minutes, before 10 minutes have passed. Use a pot holder to hold the tin, and be careful - the candy is still very hot! You don't need to cut all the way through to the tin, just press down to make grooves.

Knife scoring candy in a tin
8. Leave the candy to cool completely, at least an hour. Then tip it out of the pan and break it up into cute little cushions. It should snap satisfyingly along the lines you scored.

Tea candy in a jar9. Place in an attractive container, and either give as a gift (this batch is for my brother-in-law) or have as a treat in the pantry. They are very hard candies, like lollipops, good for sucking on.

Clean up is easy if you just let everything soak in hot water for a while, the hard candy will just dissolve away.

I'd love to hear how you get on with this recipe. I still think it needs to have a stronger tea flavour ... let me know if you come up with any improvements!


49 comments:

  1. ridiculously cool! you're rather awesome, you know :)

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  2. Oh, sounds lovely, I like tea and toffee, but I am not sure my teeth will hold up.

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  3. It is a very hard candy, like a lollipop, not at all chewy ... so good for just sucking on, and shouldn't bring dental work adrift :)

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  4. This is a great idea - I want to make it with my spiced chai tea! Also, perhaps a quick dip in some chocolate to make it satisfy all my sugar cravings? Insulin - I needs you now!

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  5. What kind of tea did you use? Maybe a strong Ceylon or Assam? Earl Grey might be fun, or the high heat might affect the bergamot flavor. Great idea!

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  6. I bet coffee flavor would be nice too.
    Maybe call it hard candy instead of toffee, so people don't think it's a chewy?

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  7. Oh, Jejune, you are amazing! And here I was thinking it was enough to just pop over to World Market and buy these. Now I am definitely trying your recipe and making them for holiday gifts for people. Thanks for doing the kitchen science part so we can all succeed the FIRST time! I am so glad you liked your secret surprise--thank a certain Jenny for a little help on this. 8^)

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  8. I've edited the recipe to read "Candy" instead of "Toffee". And yes, I reckon these would be great with coffee as well!

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  9. I haven't done anything with a sugar thermometer for years and years but I think I might be tempted! I am imagining the range of flavours you could use - Roi Bos might be nice, or Hibiscus tea, or Lapsang souchong for a smoky taste - the list could go on and on.

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  10. I've never made hard candy and am not sure I even have a candy thermometer anymore. I am going to get one at the store next weekend and give this a try.

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  11. Any hard candy sounds good right now, since my husband gave me his sore throat. But tea candy, hmmm, that does sound good.

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  12. I think hard candy is somewhere between 132 - 154 degrees celcius. Over 160 degrees is normally used in sugar decorations. Your candy is 100 % sugar. Totally hard core! ;)

    The following is in Finnish, but i bet you can figure out what I meant. I'm not saying I'm totally right, it's always nice to discuss about candy related things w/ people.

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  13. Thanks for that Paula - I got my temperature for the candy from Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking and the candy thermometer I have ... and certainly have done some subsequent batches of candy at more like 160º C ... any additives are going to change how the candy behaves too, it's very tricky, isn't it!

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  14. Jejune: Yes, candy making is an art form! Sometimes I get it wrong and sometimes everything goes just right at the first try. I've heard that the temperature depends on the sea level. "For every 150 m you are above sea level, you should cook the syrup one degree less than directed in your recipe." I think everyone's got to try it out themselves. :)

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  15. Try using Macha Green Tea Powder, found at Oriental food markets, I believe that is what they used when making the store bought candy. It's really healthy too, has antioxidents. What could be better, sweets and healthy. :)

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  16. That's a greta idea, I'll check it out - thank you!

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  17. Made this with my sister this weekend. It turned out really good. I can't wait to try out other flavored teas. I'm thinking a few Celestial Seasoning flavors like Sleepy time and Lemon Zinger sounds really good too!

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  18. Years ago, my sisters and I had this amazing tea-flavored candy on our grand adventure in Rome and we've been on a search for it ever since - in fact, that's what led me to your blog!

    Dying to try this recipe so thank you so much for doing the due diligence and posting!

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  19. I was thinking of making a traditional flavor of Earl Grey with honey and cream but am not sure how the cream would affect the texture/hard crack point....can you let me know what you think?

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  20. Sounds good! Hmmmm. I don't know how it would go adding cream to the mix. If anything, I'd add it right at the very end, after you've reached hard crack. The fats and proteins in the cream will affect the sugar syrup a lot. I'm not an expert at the whole thing, but will see what I can discover and get back to you.

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  21. A friend of mine gave me some of the same candy. She found in the Cayman Islands while on vacation. I made your recipe and shared some candy with her. It got rave reviews by everyone that tried it. Thanks for sharing this GREAT recipe.

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  22. Hey really amazing candy recipe Jejune! I'll definitely make this one this weekend.

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  23. I just tried these, and they turned out great! I only cooked the mixture to 300 F, my usual hard candy temp, and it worked perfectly.

    I'm making all the sweets for a family wedding, and the bride LOVES tea, so these are making the perfect wedding favors. I'm molding them into rose shaped lollipops, rubbing them with a bit of copper luster dust after unmolding them. They look like beautiful antique gold and taste great.

    Thanks for this recipe!

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  24. That's excellent, Meagan! I bet they look lovely with the bronze dusting! And you're very welcome :)

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  25. Wow I just Tried these too and they taste amazing, I used green tea and I offered some to my cheer leading squad and by the time practice was finished,over half the bag was gone! I'm gonna make more today for the football game we have tomorrow and I'd suggest using a fruit tea such as peach or blueberry ^^

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  26. This recipe is fantastic! I'm in charge of the candy part of holiday baking in my family, and this turned out perfect :) Used a strong chai blend. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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  27. Thanks for this brilliant recipe!
    I wonder what I'm doing wrong- whenever I cook candy with anything other than water, sugar and syrup it never gets past the soft crack stage without burning. The tea is obviously affecting how the sugar behaves. At the soft crack stage it tastes amazing, but however slowly I heat the mixture it always starts to blacken a few degrees up the thermometer.
    I've tried adding a tea syrup to a plain batch of candy after it has reached the hard crack stage but the flavour is nowhere near as strong, even if I let it cool down on the slab.
    It would be lovely to have tea candy that gets to the hard crack stage and so doesn't stick to my teeth!
    Any ideas? More/less liquid perhaps?

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  28. Hmmm, it's a tricky one. I still feel the flavour isn't really *that* strong, and ran into similar problems to you with the balance of syrup / burning / flavour ...

    One thing I thought might work well is the powdered japanese green tea (I think it's called matcha?), maybe that would affect the sugar syrup less (added at the end)?

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  29. Hi Denise,
    I got hold of some Matcha Green Tea syrup and tried that. For the flavour to be nice and strong, I found I needed to add quite a lot to the mixture on the slab. The result was sticky candy again! (I kept a bit back without the syrup as a "control" and that wasn't sticky at all.)
    I've persevered with your original method and found that if I keep to exactly 150ml of water to 400g of sugar, I can get to the hard crack stage most of the time. Yay!

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  30. very nice... going to have to try this. i love me some diabetes in a cup.. i mean sweet tea.
    and i enjoy hard candies time to time. so whats better. but i also like the other idea from above to do coffee or even a cappuccino may be good for those coffee lovers.

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  31. Thank you thank you thank you! I purchased some "green tea latte" candies in Hawaii and brought them back home to Australia. Now that they're nearly gone, this knowledge is priceless. :)

    I am hoping that a slight modification to this recipe (e.g. adding milk powder to green or chai tea) will work.

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  33. WOAH I just made these with chai tea for my friends engagement party - SO GOOD!

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  34. Yum, my mom gave me a bag of these when we visited back home in pa (we are missionarys) a cant find them on island so I will give this a try!

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  35. I made my essence of tea with 1.5 cups of water, four tea bags, one heaping tablespoon of thyme (tied in a coffee filter like a tea bag), one heaping tablespoon of ground ginger (again in a coffee filter), and a tablespoon of lemon juice. The flavor was great. I used them as cough drops as well as candy. Even my kids loved the taste!

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    1. My goodness, that sounds fabulous Meredith!

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    2. I might add some mint to my essence the next time. But they were so yummy that I actually bought a couple of candy molds and I'm going to make them for Christmas presents!

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  36. I love this recipe. I was looking for a slightly different flavour but it was a great base.
    Instead of the white sugar I chose to use brown (I wanted the deeper slightly molasses taste) and for the tea essence I started with a citrus spice rooibos. I brewed it double strength let it stand overnight in the fridge. The next morning I strained it before boiling it down to 1/2 the volume. (By itself this tasted awful! Bitter, strong, and stewed, but in the candy it worked out amazing! )
    These were a great hit as "artisan" Christmas candy gifts.

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    1. Oooh yum, that sounds fabulous! Good job!

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    2. I'm going to try this with my favorite stash tea!! I was also wondering how a liquorice extract would taste in some Horehound. I'm only 36 but I loved Horehound as a child

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    3. Interesting! I've never had horehound, so have no idea what flavour that is!

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  37. Would it be possible to sub honey for the syrup? And maybe reduce the sugar in some way? I'd like to make honey green tea candies, but don't want much more sugar than I need.

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    1. I reckon its worth a try with honey. If you reduce the sugar too much, it's going to change the properties of the candy syrup — sugar solutions are tricky beasts. So I guess try reducing it by a small amount, and see if it works? But may not.

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  38. This is fabulous!! I handmade paper tea cups and saucers as gifts for our Black Dress Society's High Tea Big Hat this upcoming weekend. I was going to purchase store bought candy to put in them, but this is better! Thank you so much!!! Wish me luck with making the candy.

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    1. Good luck! It sounds like a delightful event, and I hope the candy works out well for you :)

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  39. it's so amazing how people come up with recipes on their own! will definitely try this out with other tea flavours, thanks for the inspriation :)

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