Saturday, June 5, 2010

Product review: LorAnn's sugar free candy mix

As the owner of a candy shop, I often get requests for special items. By far, the most asked for item is sugar free hard candy. I have never tried making it from scratch-sugar substitutes, while fine for baking, do not work well in candy recipes. The structure of sweeteners is vastly different than that of real sugar, meaning it cooks and reacts differently. Also, ounce for ounce, sweeteners have a much sweeter flavor. Luckily, LorAnn's offers a mix that removes any hurdles and guesswork when it comes to making sugar free hard candy.

LorAnn's sugar free hard candy mix contains a blend of isomalt and sucralose (Splenda) and is remarkably easy to make. To make a batch, you will need 1 packaged mix, (1) 1 dram bottle of LorAnn candy oil, liquid coloring, 1/2 cup water, non stick spray, hard candy molds and a candy thermometer. Some flavors (peppermint, wintergreen, clove & cinnamon) are quite strong and you will need about 3/4 of the bottle, while remaining flavors will use the full bottle. For more intense flavors, you can use 1 1/2-2 bottles.

Basically, you mix together the mix and water, cook to 320 degrees F. Allow to cool somewhat then add coloring and flavoring. Pour into molds, let cool, then enjoy! Yes, it really is that easy, but due to the high heat, cooking and cooling times do require patience when making this candy. For the same reason, I highly recommend NOT making this candy with younger children.

The end result of your patience is 1 1/2 pounds of tooth friendly, diet worthy, diabetic safe hard candy that actually tastes good. If using the LorAnn's hexagonal or rectangular hard candy molds, the mix should yield 120-140 pieces of candy. Each serving is 4 pieces and has 30 calories, no fat, protein, sugar or sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of sugar alcohol. Each package of mix retails for $8.99 on the LorAnn's website. Dram bottles of flavoring are $1.40 each.

I have made a variety of flavors with this mix with mixed results. Mint and herbal type flavors seem to hold up to the infamous Ohio humidity better than the fruit based flavors. I made peppermint and cinnamon on the same day, then made lemon and pomegranate approximately 2 weeks later. The leftovers from the first batch were still good after 3 weeks, while the second batch became a sticky, tacky mess in a week's time. I definitely recommend storing your finished candy in a cool, dry place. The flavor of this candy is good. There is still a little of an aftertaste from the artificial sweeteners, but that is typical of nearly all foods made with them. It is definitely not enough to distract from the enjoyment of the candy. I highly recommend this mix to anyone watching their sugar or caloric intake.

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