Consumers attach a certain sense of magic and wonder to candies. This isn't surprising, considering all of the many unique varieties of candy started out as a concentrated solution of sugar in water. Sugar Confectioners need an understanding of basic confectionery structure and technique to transform these simple ingredients into confectionery delights.
The primary ingredient in candy is sugar as sucrose. Turning the sugar into candy involves dissolving it in water, concentrating this solution through cooking, and subsequently allowing the mass either to form mutable solid or to recrystallize. Key elements in the candy making process are in sugar's physical properties. Specifically its solubility and its effect on the water's boiling point. At room temperature, about 2 kilos of sugar will dissolve in 1 kilo of water. At higher temperatures, more sugar can be dissolved in the same amount of water. Once dissolved, however, the sugar will raise the boiling point of the water. The result of these physical chemistry properties is a specific relationship between the solution's boiling point and the amount of sugar solids contained therein.
The first part of basic candy making, therefore, is cooking a sugar solution to a specific temperature to form a supersaturated solution with a known solids content. When this solution cools, the sugar's solubility decreases and the sugar crystallizes out of solution.
The next part of making a candy is controlling how this recrystallization takes place. It is also known as graining. Recrystallization is controlled by varying how the supersaturated syrup is physically treated while it cools. Suspending a length of string into the solution and letting it slowly cool undisturbed will allow the sugar to recrystallize into large crystals on the string to form rock candy. Cooling that same solution quickly with agitation will cause fine crystals to form and be suspended in a saturated sugar syrup to become fondant. Fondant is used in confectionery creme centers.