My Girl Scout troop visited the Chatham Candy Manor this week, where they make their own candy canes. They boil the sugar syrup up to 300 degrees, and then pour it out to cool the sugar down. After they turned off the heat on the kettle but before they pour it out, they add the flavoring. Today's flavor was cinnamon. I can still smell cinnamon in my nose as I type this.
Since they're a little candy shop (the kind that welcomes visits from Girl Scout troops) they don't have a cooling room or even a cooling shelf. They cool the sugar the old-fashioned way, by pouring it from one chilled and buttered sheet to another, until it's ready to set up.
Then they "hang and pull" it from a wrought iron hook hanging on the wall behind them. I am not joking. Fifteen pounds of candy. These women have great biceps.
When it's done being pulled, it's ready to ball up and add the stripes of color. Susan is holding the ball of pulled sugar. The scouts were quick to point out that it was much whiter now that it was cooled. Susan told them it was the oxygen that was added to the sugar which caused it to turn white, not paint as some of them had guessed earlier.
After the colored sugar stripes were added, Susan held the ball while Kim pulled and twisted it out into a rope.
As she drew out long enough chunks of rope, she would cut it with scissors and hand the strips to waiting helpers, that the scouts decided to call "elves."
And the last step in the process - the elves actually twist and shape the pieces of rope into candy canes! How cool is that? The whole trip was really quite fun for kids and grown ups alike.
If you're in Chatham between now and Christmas, I would urge you to check out one of their public demonstrations - I think they hold them every Saturday morning. They will certainly be making candy canes Friday night for the annual Chatham Holiday Stroll, and they also claimed to serve the best hot chocolate on Main Street for the Stroll as well.
Visit their website at www.CandyManor.com