Did I tell you we had a red and white tile floor?
Cooking candy produces very memorable aromas. The human nose cannot smell sweet but the smells that arise out of a cooking batch of candy are delightful. Each type of candy is distinct. When sugar, corn syrup and water are boiled together the mass is referred to as a “bob”. Candies such as peanut brittle, nougat, marshmallow, all start out this way. A cooking bob has a clean, moist, crisp sort of aroma. Fudge smells richer and a little like cooking pudding because of the interaction of the sugar with milk, cream, butter, vanilla, chocolate, (a little salt thrown in)walnuts (or pecans)(mmm… pecans with caramel)(we used to drizzle hot caramel scraped fresh from the kettle at the end of a run onto a small (not too small) tray of pecans and eat it all as soon as it was cool enough to touch – now that’s good)(Rats, I just went looking and we don’t have a single pecan caramel cluster in the factory. I just got to have a pecan caramel cluster)(Wait a minute, we just ran some dark almond caramel clusters. False alarm – they got sent to the warehouse this morning) (Ok. I’m good now the enrobing crew ran some 5 star caramel bars this morning; I’m eating one of the seconds)
The first time I had the chance to cook solo, was with Pecan fudge which was to be used in pecan rolls. (the fudge is poured into sheet pans and cut into rectangular shaped bars, dipped in caramel and rolled in pecans)(mmm… pecans with caramel)
The head candy maker, Lee, was out for the day and he had left me to cook alone for the first time. I had been working with him for about two months and he felt I was ready. I awoke that morning with stomach flu, but, undaunted, I came to work ready to make fudge. All was well until I began to cook the first batch. I soon noticed that the smell and the heat combined to push my nausea over the controllable threshold so I turned off the fire in the middle of the cook and went outside for some air. In spite of the fact that this scenario was repeated multiple times for each batch, everything seemed to go smoothly enough and I ended the day with a slab full of beautiful pecan fudge.
The next morning, as soon as Lee stepped into the kitchen, He exclaimed “What happened?!” (I’m thinking “How does he know?”) I described my previous day’s dilemma and he explained how the prolonged cooking time darkened the batches more than usual. However, the candy was saved, and I still enjoy the smell of cooking fudge. Even pecan fudge (dipped in caramel and rolled in pecans) mmm…Pecans with caramel…