The English word Candy used since the 13th century has been derived from the Arabic Qandi meaning made from sugar; a delicacy indulged by people since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians, Arabs and Chinese frequently had nuts and fruits coated with honey. In the middle ages, the Europeans made candy from boiled sugar but being scarcely available and the high cost of imported sugarcane, only the wealthy could afford them.
Finally, in the 1800s with the discovery of sugar beet the alternative domestic source of sugar, candy became available to the general masses. Today, the candy industry is one of the highly lucrative and luscious industries. Candies are not only mass-produced, but gourmet candies are custom made and crafted by hand.
The Ritual Behind Hard Candies
The candy maker starts by boiling a solution of sugar and water, to which he adds thick glucose syrup derived from starch. He continues to heat the solution to the required specific temperature, which varies on the type of candy he wants to make. A hot temperature makes hard candy, medium temperature yields soft candy, while cool temperatures make chewy candy.
Next, he stirs in the liquid flavouring evenly and then pours out the mixture onto a cooling table. While it's bubbling hot, he adds in colour and blends it in with spatulas until the candy is cool and just hard enough to be malleable. To attain an even and translucent consistency, he pulls and kneads the wad before placing it on top of a heating table, to keep it at a certain temperature, else it will become brittle.
The maker now assembles a jumbo-sized version of the design he wants to create and then stretches and rolls it out to form thin long uniform strands called rods. He must keep the rods rolling with almost no pressure until they cool else they would flat out. He then cuts these rods into bite-sized pieces and wraps them up as individual hard candies. The rods are also rolled and pressed to form lollipops.
Fun Fact: Lollipops, invented by George Smith in 1908, was named after Lolly Pop, a racing horse.
The Stunning Japanese Candy Art- Amezaiku
Amezaiku is a traditional Japanese craft. They sculpt intricate animal structures out of mizuame (a clear, thick liquid made by converting starch to sugar); so it is basically Japanese candy art at a whole new level. It starts with a glutinous starchy syrup, heated to almost 90-degree Celsius. The artists choose the mixture based on whether the art pieces are for eating purposes or simple exhibition purposes. The syrup also differs based on seasons. The mixture is extracted and kneaded by hand to get a small spherical ball. The artist mounts this ball onto a stick and moulds it into the desired shape by pulling and clipping. They paint the final shape using food dye and fine delicate brushes.
Amezaiku is believed to have started during the Heian period (last division of classical Japanese history, aka the Golden Age) in the 8th century, when sugar was spun into shapes and laid out as offerings in temples at Kyoto (the then capital of Japan. At present, a city on the island of Honshu, Japan). Later, it was adopted as street performance and perfected as an art form during the Edo period (aka the Tokugawa period, between 1603 and 1868). Today very few Amezaiku practitioners are left in Japan.
A favourite among young and old alike, Hard Candy Day recognizes the sweet tooth in all of us. Just as Betty MacDonald had remarked, “There’s nothing as cosy as a piece of candy and a book.”
Check out the video below to get a glimpse of the amazing Amezaiku art form.
Video Source~ YouTube
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