Whether it's best to use a spoon or electric mixer, we'll give you the experts' tips for beating candy mixtures.
Always prepare your pan or have the waxed paper ready before beginning to beat fudge or pralines, because the candies can thicken during the beating process in what will seem like record time. If you stop to prepare the pan or even tear off a piece of waxed paper, you may not get the candy mixture out of the saucepan!
Fudge and pralines are cooked to a specific temperature, cooled to a lower temperature, and then beaten. When you first begin to beat either of these candy mixtures, they will be quite thin and very glossy. As the beating continues, the mixtures begin to thicken; this is the time to stir in nuts or other ingredients. At this point, watch very carefully as the mixture continues to thicken and the gloss just starts to disappear. When this stage is reached, quickly turn fudge into the prepared pan or drop pralines onto the waxed paper.
1. The mixture will be thin and very glossy when you begin beating. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until fudge just begins to thicken; stir in nuts or other ingredients.
2. Continue beating the fudge until it becomes very thick and just starts to lose its gloss. At this point, quickly turn the fudge into the prepared pan.
When making divinity or nougat, timing is very important.
Separate the eggs, but do not begin beating the egg whites before you start cooking the candy mixture. (If you do, the egg whites will revert to a liquid state and cannot be beaten again.) Immediately after the sugar mixture has cooked to the recommended temperature, remove it from the heat; then begin beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Pour the hot candy mixture over the stiffly-beaten egg whites in a slow, steady stream (slightly less than 1/8-inch diameter) to ensure proper blending. At first, as the hot candy mixture hits the cooler egg whites, it may become hard. Continue beating and scraping the bowl occasionally, and the mixture will soften.
1. Gradually pour the hot mixture in a thin stream (less than 1/8-inch diameter) over egg whites, beating with electric mixer on high speed.
2. For divinity, when the candy just starts to lose its gloss, lift the beaters. The mixture should fall in a ribbon that mounds on itself but does not disappear into the remaining mixture. For nougat, the mixture should fall in a ribbon that mounds on itself, then slowly disappears into the remaining mixture.