As the sugar cooks, the water added to it evaporates causing the temperature of the candy to rise. If you are not ready to use the sugar when it reaches the proper temperature, simply add a few tablespoons of water and allow it to continue to cook. This way you can "hold" the sugar until you are ready.
Use heavy large saucepans of good-quality. The saucepan should be large enough to hold 3 to 4 times the volume of the ingredients to help prevent boil overs. If sugar is boiled in too small a pot, the bottom of the solution burns quickly and becomes dark and bitter-tasting.
Use a tight fitting lid when bringing syrups that do not contain milk products to a boil to prevent sugar crystals from forming on the side of the saucepan.
Cook ingredients on low heat until completed dissolved or melted. Increase the temperature to medium-high to bring the syrup to a boil. Then lower the temperature to medium to sustain a rolling boil. The burner is set too high if the mixture scorches on the bottom.
Always use a candy thermometer as indicated in the recipe. Clip it to the side of the saucepan and read the temperature at eye level.
Do not allow the candy thermometer to touch the bottom of the saucepan. Always use a saucepan large enough for your candy thermometer.
Candy thermometers are clipped to a saucepan after the initial ingredients have been mixed, stirred and heated, after the sugar dissolves or the ingredients are incorporated. There should not be any grains of sugar remaining on the bottom of the pan.
If grains of sugar form on the side of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pan above the liquid level. This should be done before placing a candy thermometer on the saucepan.
Alway use the pan size indicated in the recipe.
Use the exact ingredients as specified in the recipe; do not substitute ingredients. The ingredients vary in type and amount, depending upon the candy being made, and have a specific purpose.
Do not double the recipes. Make separate batches until you have the desired amount. Increasing the ingredients changes the cooking time.
Only stir the syrup as indicated in the recipe. Some recipes call for no stirring, others are the opposite. This is important so that proper crystallization can occur.
Only use wooden spoons. Metal spoons become too hot to handle and plastic spatulas can melt.
Always place the sugar in the middle of the bottom of the pot, taking care not to get it on the sides. Then add liquids around the sugar to prevent the sugar from touching the side of the pan. Pour honey or liquid sugars to the middle of the pan.
Clean your candy thermometer after each use. Store the cleaned thermometer in a cup of warm water while using. Wipe the thermometer clean with a towel every time you dip it in the pot--use caution since the thermometer will be very hot. Do not put a hot candy thermometer under cold water since this can cause it to shatter. Never put the thermometer in the pot when wet. The thermometer must always be clean and dry before inserting it into hot syrup.
Clean and dry your wooden spoon after each use.
Do not touch the pot during cooking, unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Even accidentally bumping into it will jar the mixture. Cook your candy on the back burner to avoid accidentally jarring.
If the boiling sugar and water mixture separate just before reaching the designated temperature, take it off the heat immediately and stir it gently. Use a medium high heat so the syrup cooks relatively quickly.