Candy, also known as sweet or confection, is a popular Asian-originated, Western dessert, made of solidified sugar solution in different colors. Candies and candy recipes are usually much sweeter than other desserts and are universally loved by children. Most countries of the world make candies with region-specific ingredients and methods of cooking. The American implication of the term covers a wide range of candies some of which may include even sour and salted varieties. Candy bars, taffies, marshmallows, chocolate bars, gumdrops, licorice, hard and soft candies are all different types of American candies. A variety of candy dishes are made by coating fruits, nuts and vegetables with a sugar glaze. A candy may be referred to as a sweet or confection by the British, while the Australians and New Zealanders might prefer to call it a lolly or a chocolate (if it contains chocolate).
Apart form a host of chocolate bars, pickled and preserved fruits of China, salty licorice of Europe, dulce de leche(Southern and Central American caramelized milk ), the French Nougat, the German Gummy Bears, the Middle Eastern Loucum, the Indonesian Ting Tin Jahe, the Brazilian brigadeiros, the Japanese Botan ame, are some of the most popular candies of the world.
History of Candies
Candy, interestingly, is of Asian origin though it has been widely popularized in the west. The word has its roots in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, in which , it means a “piece” referring to a piece of sugar. The Dravidian words Kanta and Kattu are also closely associated with the word candy. The very first candy recipes were prepared in the ancient times by coating nuts and fruits with honey. With the beginning of sugar manufacture and in the middle ages and with the colonial Europeans travelling round the globe the confection was introduced to the Western cuisine particularly the American cuisine where it was greatly evolved from the 19 th century. In the contemporary culinary world candy is more of a western preparation than an Asian one.
Ingredients Used and Method of Preparation of Candy and Candy Dishes
Candy is primarily a sugar product. In essence it is prepared by solidifying a solution of sugar with flavoring and coloring substances. Nuts, fruits and other ingredients may be added to the sugar solution while cooking. In the first step, the sugar is dissolved in water, milk or any other base and is boiled or caramelized for thickening till it reaches the desired consistency which is different for different desired textures.
The texture of a candy may be soft, chewy, hard, or brittle. Often soft and chewy, or hard and brittle combinations are made. While being cooked the sugar goes through several stages of thickness, namely, the thread(80 % thickened) soft ball(85% thickened), firm ball(87 % thickened), hard ball(92 % thickened), soft crack(95 % thickened), hard crack,(99 % thickened) clear liquid(100 % thickened), brown liquid(100 % thickened) and burnt sugar( 100 % thickened). The concentration and the state of solidification increases from the first to the last stage. Different confections require the sugar solution to attain different stages of thickness. For example fudge is made at the soft ball stage and toffee is made at the hardball stage. Candy Dishes are prepared by using the candy as an ingredient of the dish. Muffins, cakes, cookies, ice cream, torte, mousse, croissants, parfaits, fondue are all different types of desserts made with candy. Gourmet candies can be made by adding superior nuts, fruits, chocolates, and marzipan to the basic candy and also by designing a fancy appearance for it. Gourmet candies are specially made for occasions like Christmas and Easter.
Serving and Eating Candy and Candy Recipes
Candy and candy recipes are served as desserts. However, children and even adults at times snack on them at other times of the day. Candies are usually served chilled or at ordinary room temperature. However, some candy recipes, for example, hot pastries with a fancy candy topping may require the item to be served hot. Commercially they are available in attractive packages. Candies are generally eaten independently. Candies are served for most of Western festivals and also for special, occasions such as a birthday party or a wedding party. Candy is a traditional confection for Halloween. The Chinese candy is fondly served during the Chinese New Year among the people of the community. A chocolate box especially designed for storing candies for the occasion, may typically consist of chocolate coins, candied coconut, candied carrot, candied pineapple, and peanuts. Candy recipes may suggest dessert sauces as accompaniments for serving. A candy dish is a bowl or a container in which candies are placed during festivals or special occasions as a mark of warmth for the guests suggesting to them that they should enjoy those candies and feel at home. A candy dish may also be placed in a public place like an office. ideally it is better to ask if one could have the candy before picking up one from the dish. For self consumption, its always advisable to not take candy to the work place.
Popular Candy Variations
A candy may belong to one of the different types as discussed below:
Western candies– different types of Western candies are
- Caramels – made with sugar and water
- Milk chocolate bars – made with milk, chocolate, sugar and some varieties with cookies, nuts, fruits etc.
- Gummies- gelatin based chewy confections in different fancy shapes, flavors and colors
- Hard candies and suckers – candies that are sucked till they are totally consumed or they become thin enough to be bitten into. These include lollipops.
- Licorice – black or cherry red licorice flavored semi-soft candy
- Sours – Tangy candies
- Chewing gum- a sticky and rubbery candy that is usually chewed till it tastes sweet no more
Asian Candies- Japanese rice candies, and Indian candies like peanut brittle (known as chikki), sugar figures (fancy figures made of molded, flavored and colored sugar which are often festival specials) are all different types of Asian Candies. Though a candy is a confection, all confections such as pastries are not candies. Breath mints are mouth fresheners which are sweet in taste.
Health Implication of Candies and Candy Dishes
Candy and candy dishes contain sugar in high percentage. As sugar is believed to be energizing, when consumed in adequate quantities it adds to the energy reserves of the body but it has adverse implications too. Though recent studies have found chocolate to be health-wise beneficial, other candies may not be so. Candy may be harmful for people wanting to lose weight, as it might also cause tooth decay, especially in children who constitute a major percentage of candy consumers. Sugar candies are strictly prohibited for diabetics.
Miscellaneous facts about Candy and Candy Recipes
The top 5 commercially sold candies are listed as under:
- Snickers – It is a bar of chocolate manufactured and sold by Mars, Incorporated
- Twix –It is a chocolate coated biscuit finger from Mars, Incorporated
- Kit Kat –It’s a chocolate coated wafer now produced and sold by Nestle
- Butter Finger – It is a confection with an orange-colored finger coated with a cocoa mixture produced by Nestle
- Milky Way – A chocolate-coated nougat from Mars, Inc. Candy
The slogan of the Kit Kat “Have a break, have a Kit Kat” has been the singular slogan for this candy bar for 47 years now and it is still going strong.