Today I was invited for a crash course in candy making with the talented, master candy artisan, Alice MacKenzie. This was behind the scenes look at handmade, hard candy courtesy of local sweets purveyor “Wishing Treats”.
From behind glass their skilled artisans transform caramel into any custom design. A great option for party favours with personal ideas, messages, and branding. All their candies are created with 95% organic ingredients, with them continuing to research on transitioning the remaining 5%; but for now they are still using organic alternatives. This means that their candy is vegan and gluten-free; with ingredients like organic sugar, glucose, citric acid from fruit, and natural colouring and flavours.
Not only do they make the candy for you, they can also teach you how to do it too. “Wishing Treats” offer candy making classes, where you become the artisan. Just like what we were here doing today.
To watch the video version of this post, click on the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.
We arrived at their Gastown studio to witness the entire process. Everything is made by hand from start to finish. And depending on the difficultly of the design, the time it takes varies; averaging on 45 to 60 minutes. Given our idea, we were here for an hour.
In honour of the upcoming pride season, we decided to make some new, never before seen pride candies to celebrate. The word “PRIDE” in rainbow coloured letters, with a matching rainbow boarder. Candies that ended up being such a hit with the staff, that they decided to make more and offer them commercially. These will be available at the “Wishing Treats” studio starting July 7th, 2017. So this is a first look sneak peak at their upcoming pride candies, perfect for any related celebration or year long support.
Their candy making process is visible for anyone to come in and watch throughout the day. However we visited on a day where we were the only ones in the shop, and were given the ability to step behind the counter to capture our shots.
Our candy artisan began by combining sugar, water, and glucose, and bringing the mixture to boil in a pot, over a heated coil. This part takes about 30 minutes. 30 minutes of stirring and checking, looking for the right thickness and consistency.
In the meanwhile the work counter and necessary equipment used, gets a thin coating of coconut oil. A metal work surface and mental bars that will be used to shape and contain the liquid sugar, once it’s ready to be moulded. The coconut oil is to prevent any sticking, we are working with syrup and sugar after all.
While the sugar mixture continues to boil up, all the colouring and flavours needed are measured and poured out. Today we would be utilizing all the primary colours to make our rainbow. And we decided to flavour it in a sweet raspberry.
Once the syrup is at the perfect consistency, our chosen flavour is poured and mixed in. And then the piping hot sugar mixture is poured out on to the counter. It is contained within the centre of the square, that the four coconut oiled metal bars form.
It is then coloured with our measured out food colouring and kneaded evenly into a solid shade. This is done by a series of flattening motions and palm rolls;then pulling portions of candy from one hand to another, drawing it out like stringy bubble gum.
To keep the soon to be hard candy malleable, its temperature needs to be kept hot. So out artist Alice, works with it right out of the pot. With insulated gloves, her hands are protected from the heat. The mass of candy is then worked over on heated mats, at 180 degree heat.
With all her necessary colours sorted out, she then sets out to create her pattern. A process that she is able to recreate from an idea in her head. Using strips of colour sandwiched by pieces of white, she spells out “P” in red, “R” in orange, “I” in yellow, “D” in green, and “E” in blue.
This block of block letters then gets rolled up in a sheet of the same colours alternating between gaps of white. The result, a sledge hammer sized round of candy. In order to get it down to the smaller size we need, repetitive rolling and pulling is done. One by one smaller rods are pulled out, cut off, and smoothed out to the ideal shape.
From here, some rapid fire chopping takes place. Alice skillfully takes a flat blade to each rod. She mechanically hack rounds to the size of peas.
And what we have is a sea of sweets ready for bagging. What I like about such behind the scenes look on things is how much more appreciative of the food I am. To see all the work, effort, and sheer skill that went into this, made the bag all the more sweeter to try at the end.
This is definitely something worth checking on yourself. Either by visiting and purchasing a bag of their specialty sweets, or enrolling in one of their classes and doing this all your own.
To read my review on their shop and candies, visit the link below.
49 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1G4