Happy Pioneer Day! For those of you who may not know what Pioneer Day is, it is when the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka “Mormons”) celebrate the day the first pioneers made it into the Salt Lake Valley as they were trekking west.
Although we are in Texas, where Pioneer Day is not recognized as an official holiday, we still decided it would be fun to commemorate it. SO, I found this recipe for Pioneer Taffy from Jamie Cooks It Up! and thought we could give it a whirl. If you would like some more pictures, check out Jamie’s site for great step-by-step pictures of the process, including a great tip on checking for taffy readiness using a spoon and cold running water. **Note: This recipe is best done with several people, or it will take a long, long time to get everything pulled, cut up and wrapped.
- 2 c. sugar
- 1-1/2 c. water
- 1 c. light corn syrup
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. *VEGETABLE GLYCERINE (see note at the bottom about this)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 T. butter
***You will also need kitchen shears, waxed paper (pre-cut into squares) and a candy thermometer.
1. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, salt & glycerine in a heavy saucepan.
2. Bring to boil and continue cooking on medium-high until it reaches 258 degrees. Jamie said it should take about 35-40 minutes, and she was absolutely right.
3. Take the taffy off of the heat and add your vanilla and butter.
4. Pour onto greased cookie sheet (I used butter) and let it cool down until it is no longer hot to handle. This takes probably 10ish minutes. Make sure it really is cool enough to handle, or you WILL get burned. No personal experience here (cough).
5. Hand out pieces to all of the lucky participants. Pull the piece straight out into a line, fold it in half, and then pull again. Repeat cycle until you have beautiful white taffy.
6. Cut up into little pieces and wrap into wax paper.
That is it!
Ours turned out great – it had a perfect consistency (I thought) and the flavor is excellent. After the taffy had been pulled, I made the mistake of just leaving it in balls. Don’t do that. You’ll want to roll them out to a good thickness to cut BEFORE they cool down completely (like playdoh snakes) or you will have hard-ish candy ball to try and deal with and roll out later. Once I fixed my ball problem, I ended up putting my “taffy snakes” back on the greased cookie sheet while I was cutting them each up into pieces (the pieces went onto a plate lined with waxed paper to keep them from sticking). I used kitchen shears to cut the taffy. My lovely assistants were great at helping roll each candy into waxed paper – many hands makes light work. What good helpers!
Overall Rating: *****
Difficulty:Easy (make sure you have a candy thermometer), BUT it is time consuming.
Would I Try it Again? I have mixed feelings about this. They are delicious and the individually-wrapped end result is great, BUT they took a little more effort than I had planned on. If I had things thought out earlier (waxed paper cut up beforehand, make sure the taffy stayed in a good snake shape instead of a ball before cutting it, realize that the taffy will stick to EVERYTHING that is not waxed paper or is not greased), it probably wouldn’t be that bad. So, I probably will do it again once I forget the effort it took.
***GLYCERIN vs. VEGETABLE GLYCERINE***
I went looking for glycerin at CVS. And at Walmart. And at another CVS. At the second CVS, they found a manager who finally was able to find glycerin for me. In the cosmetics section. It turns out it is for covering up skin wounds or something. I told him it was for making taffy, and we both looked over the label and could not find anything about being edible anywhere on it. So I went home and did some research.
Turns out there is GLYCERIN (no “e” at the end) and GLYCERINE (note the “e”). Vegetable glycerine can also be used as a skin cleanser or something, BUT it is also food grade. Which, as far as I understand, means it is edible.
I read from the comments on Jamie’s blog that a pharmacist had told another reader that glycerin would probably be okay in small quantities, but I found the vegetable glycerine at a whole foods-type store here – and it was actually a bit cheaper than the glycerin would have been. Bonus! It was near their essential oils – I just called ahead to see if they carried it, and they did. You could call around as well and save yourself some driving around and foot time.