If you have never made molded candy before, you really should give it a try! Using confectionery coating or candy “wafers” makes the process easy and fun – with a little practice, you can create your own hand “painted” masterpieces. With an endless variety of special, plastic candy molds available, you can always whip up a candy favor for any occasion or just to say I Love You. Children absolutely love having a special candy made just for them, but you know what? Adults totally love it, too! “Painting” with colored candy coating lets us create edible art!
After a couple of decades of making molded candy and a lot of hand “painting” using colored candy coating, I’ve made a LOT of mistakes and learned a thing or two. Valentine’s Day is next week and Easter will be here before we know it! How can THAT be possible?? These two holidays alone are definitely perfect for candy making! Think about birthdays, showers, Halloween, Christmas, graduations…there is a candy mold for just about any celebration you might have.
Making molded candies is easy to do at home with confectionery coating or candy “wafers” Confectionary coating is NOT chocolate. Real chocolate is easy to use when melted and mixed with cream, butter and ingredients to make fudge, truffles or other candies. However, using chocolate to “dip” or “mold” candy requires that the chocolate be tempered before it is used. Tempering is raising and lowering the temperature of chocolate; this is necessary for candies to harden properly, have the proper “snap” and achieve a nice sheen. Tempering is not difficult to do, but we’ll get into that another day!
Confectionary coating or candy “wafers” are made of sugar, fats, oils, milk solids, flavorings and if colored, oil or powdered candy coloring. Cocoa is added to light and dark chocolate-flavored coatings. You can make vanilla-flavored coatings any color of the rainbow – but DON’T grab your food coloring! Only use oil-based or powdered candy coloring. Colors deepen a lot when mixed, so use a toothpick to add coloring a small amount at a time, stir and add more as needed until you reach the color you want. Want to flavor your candy coating? You can do that, too! There are lots of flavors available in concentrated oils. Again, a little goes a very long way! You only need about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of flavoring per pound of candy. Always make sure that you are using oil-based flavoring.
After years of candy making, I love using Merckens coatings. They melt to a smooth, creamy consistency and taste delicious. Merckens candy wafers are available from a number of online retailers, including the wonderful Fancy Flours. If you’ve never visited their site, it’s a wonderland of supplies for candy making, baking and confectionery decorating. Also, I am quickly becoming a big fan of CandiQuick, which I used in a Christmas “Merry Mix” and you can read about it here. CandiQuick contains more cocoas and milk solids, melts beautifully, tastes fabulous and can be colored and flavored in the same way as candy wafers.
It’s a good idea, if you are using candy wafers, to have a bag of Paramount Crystals on hand. Made of hydrogenated palm kernel oil and soy lecithin, Paramount Crystals help thin melted candy and can add shine. They are very helpful in bringing melted candy to the right consistency. If candy coating is overheated and “seizes” up, e.g., becomes very difficult or impossible to stir, Paramount Crystals will definitely come to the rescue! Paramount Crystals are available at baking and candy making supply stores and are available at a variety of online retailers; links to just a few are at the end of the post. Colored coatings, in my experience, seem to melt to a thicker consistency, especially dark colors like red or green. Add a few pinches of Paramount Crystals at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. In an absolute pinch, I have also used vegetable shortening, though you have to be very careful to use just a tiny bit or your melted candy will become very runny!
Candy melts can be melted in the microwave and placed in a plastic squeeze bottle for filling molds. One of the reasons I am loving CandiQuick is how beautifully it melts in the microwave. If you are using candy melts and melting a big quantity, the Wilton Chocolate Pro is an investment I highly recommend! Use the high setting to melt the candy, then switch it to the lower setting to keep the candy at the right temperature and avoid overheating. Never, never, never let any moisture, water or steam get into your candy when you are melting or using it! Moisture of any kind will ruin the melted candy.
I typically make big batches of candy and have overheated it any number of times in the microwave. So….I came up with a crazy trick years ago to melt, color and maintain a fluid consistency of many different colors of candy using my trusty electric frying pan. Once an electric frying pan gets a little grungy for cooking, I never throw it away! I keep it for candy making. I fill the pan with about an inch or so of water, keep it on a low temperature and place heatproof mugs in the pan of water. I put the candy in the mugs, add the coloring, stir and I’m good to go with a lot of candy painting! As the water in the frying pan evaporates, just fill with a little more water. Just don’t get any water in the candy!
Plastic squeeze bottles are perfect for filling molds with one color of candy, but for “painting” in tiny details, brushes are a must! Sometimes, I even use the plastic end of the brush and for very tiny details, have even used toothpicks. “Painting” in details takes a bit of practice, but it’s a lot of fun! It’s important to maintain the melted candy at a nice, flowing consistency to make the painting easy – just like with actual paint!
I thought you might get a kick out of seeing some of my candy from days gone by! I made many boxes of candy for a hotel once, which were used as a special welcome for guests over Valentine’s weekend. See that old rose lamp in the photo (or part of it?) That lamp, which I still have, belonged to my great-grandparents!
I’ve made thousands of lollipops and molded candies for fund raisers, bazaars, craft shows, etc. over the years! This was from a Christmas bazaar – don’t you love the hand written signs? Before I had computer, so this is quite a number of years ago! Can’t figure out the Valentine’s candy in there, but there must have been a reason!
There are tons of online retailers where you can purchase candy making supplies and molds – here are just a few!
Next time, we’ll take a first step into molding candy with an easy and pretty treat for Valentine’s Day!
As always, thank you so much for visiting today!