A high quality, heavy aluminum saucepan is the best choice for making candy. Aluminum pans conduct heat very evenly. Other types of metal pans such as stainless steel, require careful watching because they may have hot spots and not heat evenly.
Using the correct size pan is equally important. A pan that's too small to hold the candy mixture can lead to messy and dangerous boil-overs. A pan that's too large can result in inaccurate thermometer readings, because the candy mixture will not cover the bulb of the candy thermometer.
Cooking candy mixtures to the correct temperature is a very critical part of candy-making. A candy thermometer is an indispensable item because it takes the guesswork out of testing candy mixtures.
Testing and calibrating a candy thermometer
Before every use, check the accuracy of the thermometer. To do this, place the candy thermometer in a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes and then read the temperature. If the thermometer registers above or below 212 degrees F. , add or subtract the same number of degrees from the recipe temperature, and cook to that temperature.
For example, if the thermometer reads 210 degrees F., cook the candy 2 degrees lower than the recipe temperature. If the thermometer reads 214 degrees F., cook the candy 2 degrees higher than the recipe states.
After removing the candy thermometer from a hot candy mixture, immerse it in hot water. This will protect the thermometer from a sudden temperature change and will make it easier to clean later.