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Lessons from Cinnamon Hard Candy

The lime hard candy had a mediocre result. I didn’t want to let it just lie there, so I decided that I’d make some cinnamon hard candy. We had the oil and the equipment available – might as well, right?

If the lime candy experiment produced mediocre results, then the cinnamon hard candy experiment was an abject failure. I wanted to perfect the technique but didn’t – though I (re)learned some valuable things in the process. I know what I did wrong, and don’t plan on doing it again even though this taught me several things.

Patience. It’s not just for doctors anymore

You remember those folks who will tell you that patience is a virtue? It’s a virtue because stuff tends to turn out a LOT better if you exercise it. My cinnamon hard candy recipe had ts flavorings and oils added too quickly, and as a result turned out poorly.

Experience is the best way to learn science

I had no idea. Really. I had no idea that the sugar that was dissolved in the water would go back into its granulated form after a while. I thought that it would be a goopy sort of sugar syrupy mess, but that’s not what happened at all. When in doubt, try it out! You’ve not got much to lose, and who knows, it may work!

Research makes things better

If I’d done my research, I would have found out that adding spicing and flavoring to hard candy before its time was probably not a good idea, and I would have found out what the results were going to be. I’m of two minds on this one, of course – because the story of this particular ‘failure’ is fun.

More is not always better

I would have found this out through the research. Using 2 tsp of cinnamon oil to the mixture was way too much. The house smells good as a result. Even the day after, there’s still some pretty awesome smells, but the candy is completely and totally shot. It’s kinda neat and crumbly looking, but it’s definitely not hard candy. (Man, I wish I had pictures!)

Here’s the recipe for how NOT to make cinnamon hard candies.

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp cinnamon oil
3/4 tsp ground pepper

Dissolve sugar in the water and wait for it to boil. This forms a simple sugar syrup, and what you’re waiting for is some of the water to be boiled off so that the temperature rises. Wait until the temperature rises to 230 or so, put in both the oil and the pepper.

Watch as the heat rises, and something else happens. Where the sugar was in a liquid form, the stuff will boil and gradually turn its way back to sugar. Apparently, there’s something with the oil and pepper that makes it boil more and not like it.

Realize that your experiment isn’t going to make hard candy, remove from heat at around 270, pour it into the lightly sugared pyrex, and start writing about it because you don’t have hard candy. You’ve got this … well, it looks like a landscape for a Warhammer game.

Write about it.

No matter you’re involved in, the best thing to do is experiment. I think that I’m like a lot of people who don’t actually do enough research before pressing the ‘go’ button. You know what? There’s sometimes a thrill in not knowing absolutely for sure how something will turn out.