One of my favorite things about Hallowe’en, other than the adorable trick-or-treaters and watching fireworks, is the molasses taffy that comes wrapped up in the black and orange waxed paper. I love the brown sugary flavour and the chewy texture, but last year I could not find them for sale ANYWHERE, so I decided that I would try to make them myself this year. So, the other day, I did. Pulling taffy is fun in the same way that making “ghost gum” out of a marshmallow is fun, and it looks like spun gold while you’re doing it – it gets this metallic sheen that unfortunately disappears when you stop. The candies came out tasting great, but they are rather harder than I was hoping for. You’re supposed to cook the syrup to 270˚F, or the “soft crack” stage, but during the process I discovered that my candy thermometer didn’t work, so I used the “sugar syrup and water” method instead, which is less precise and resulted in a slightly overcooked syrup. But with a working thermometer, these candies would be perfect! I used blackstrap molasses, so the flavour is quite strong. If you prefer a mellower molasses flavour, use fancy molasses instead. I would also recommend using demerara brown sugar if you can find it – it is a less-refined brown sugar with more flavour than regular brown sugar, which is actually just white sugar with molasses added back into it!
Pulled Molasses Taffy
From Canadian Living
In a medium sized pot with high sides, combine:
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, preferably demerara
1/3 cup molasses, blackstrap or fancy, your choice
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp butter
Bring a boil, stirring, over medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and without stirring, let the mixture cook over medium heat until it gets to 270˚F. Alternately, test the temperature by drizzling a bit of the syrup off a spoon into a cup of cold water – when the syrup forms hard but pliable threads (aka “soft crack” stage), it is ready.
While the syrup boils, mix together:
1 tsp warm water
1/4 tsp baking soda
When the syrup reaches the correct temperature, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda mixture. It will foam up a bit – stir vigorously to dissipate the chemical reaction. Pour the taffy mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and let it cool for about 5 minutes. With a greased spatula, fold the edges of the taffy in towards the middle. Continue until the taffy is cool enough to handle and when you poke it with your finger, an indentation remains.
Pick up the taffy with well-greased hands. Pull the taffy apart with a twisting motion, then fold it in half and pull it apart again, twisting with your hands. Repeat until the taffy is glossy and light in colour with a metallic shine, about 5 minutes. Divide the taffy in half and pull/twist each half into a rope about 1/2 an inch thick. Place on the greased cookie sheet. With a pair of scissors dipped in cold water, snip the taffy into 1/2″ pieces. If the taffy is soft enough, wrap each piece individually in a small piece of waxed paper (if it’s too hard it will just rip the paper when you twist the ends). Alternately, layer in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper.