Nice homemade candies and bonbons depend on using the nicest materials. Pure powdered sugar from the high-priced grocers, the finest arrowroot in place of starch or white of eggs, flavorings directly from the fruit or nut, and these the choicest of their kind she would have.
No expensive utensils are needed. A bright pressed-tin kettle, such as is sold for a quarter, turns out as fine candy as a confectioner’s copper kettle, and is safer in common hands. But it must be bright and well-tinned, not worn in spots or scorched, and it must be delicately clean — that is, washed with clean suds, scalded and wiped dry with a clean towel.
If you cannot be sure of the purity of your powdered sugar — if it leaves a smooth chalky feeling and taste on the tongue when moistened in the mouth — use granulated or lump sugar, rolling and sifting it through a hair sieve or cheesecloth.
Vanilla is the favorite Viennese, Parisian and American flavor for chocolate, but to have this fine, the bean must invariably be used instead of flavoring extracts, no matter how high-priced or of what maker.
A nice housekeeper will always make her own flavoring to the improvement of her table and sparing of her purse. A vanilla pod from the city druggist or fine grocers will not cost more than 25 cents, and will make three or four times the extract you can buy for the price and of far finer quality, with fresh vanilla beans and deodorized grape spirit, you have the very best thing any manufacturer can give you, and have it fresh.
The extract is made by powdering a teaspoonful of the bean in two ounces of spirits, keeping it three weeks in a dark closet to infuse before using. One teaspoonful of this extract put in the cream for the caramel is enough.
The Spanish like the flavor of cinnamon chocolate given by simmering a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon in a tablespoonful of thin cream, using this as an extract. This will be found the daintiest way of giving a refined cinnamon flavor to creams and puddings also.
Also keep in mind
Due regard must be had to the state of the air for candy making. On a moist thawy or rainy day when the air is full of vapor, the syrup will not evaporate or candy harden well. On such days, you may add the pinch of baking soda just as the syrup is taken off, which hardens it by allowing the escape of much water as it foams. It must be a pinch merely, or it will leave the rank taste which betrays soda in cookery.
The best confections for young children are fancy shapes of hearts and stars, made by pouring the syrup into oiled tin molds, the pattypans of the smallest size coming into use. Sets of candy moulds are to be had, and you can make the high-priced French bonbons, which are sugar syrup differently colored and flavored. Orange drops are choice; the sugar being wet with orange juice and boiled in porcelain, flavored and colored with the yellow zest of the peel — deepened, if desired, with juice pressed from raw, grated carrot.
The peppermint and wintergreen drops which follow the ice cream course to prevent possible disturbance from chilling with the frozen dainties are made of pure sugar with half the quantity of arrowroot used for the cream drops, and essence of wintergreen or mint to taste, rolled on a marble slab and cut out in disks the size of a quarter dollar.
Confectionery is a pretty art for ladies, and a very convenient one where there are children with the traditional sweet tooth. And what adds more repute to a hostess table than that it is furnished with tempting fresh bon bons of her own making?