Cooking with Sugar
When cooking with sugar, all equipment must be dry, and you should use a heavy-bottomed pan.
You can cook sugar using a dry or wet method. Dry is used purely for caramelization. (You can caramelise through the wet method as well, but it is better to use the dry method.) Wet is used when you need to take the sugar to a specific temperature for instance when making candy.
Caramelising your sugar
Preheat your pan. Then, keeping the pan on a medium heat, add a small amount of sugar at a time. Allow each batch to melt before adding the next small batch. Cook it to your desired colour.
Important: Once your sugar has reached its desired colour, place the bottom of the pan in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
If you are adding any liquid to your caramelised sugar, preheat the liquid first.
Cooking your sugar to a certain temperature
Add your sugar and water to a pan on high heat. The liquid should be about 30% of the sugar. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Once it starts boiling, skim off any impurities and stop stirring.
Use a damp pastry brush to ‘wipe up’ the sides of the pan to get rid of any sugar crystals. Repeat as necessary.
Important: You do not want any crystals to fall into your mixture, as that will start a chain of forming more crystals and will give you a grainy finish.
238F/114C Soft Ball
248F/120C Firm Ball
260F/127C Hard Ball
275F/135C Soft Crack
310F/154C Hard Crack