Candy Making Temperature Chart - Sugar Caramelization Stages
Candy consists of foods made with large amounts of sugar. This includes lollipops, brittle, taffy, nougat, some chocolates, fudge, toffee, licorice and jelly beans. Candy is made by combining water and sugar and exposing it to various temperature stages so it caramelizes. Eventually the heat causes the sugar crystals to melt and darken and the water to evaporate. The water evaporation causes the mixture to increase in density. The extent to which this happens is what makes the difference between caramel syrup, chewy taffy or hard rock candy. This is because the heat is one of the most important factors that determine how these sugar crystals reform when the mixture cools.
Keep in mind that humid days (over 60%) and some rainy days can affect how your candy making turns out because the candy absorbs more moisture from the air. Some people increase their candy making temperatures by a degree or two higher than indicated on the recipe but it's still a gamble. We recommend waiting until a less humid day if you're interested in consistent results.
Before making candy, test your candy thermometer for accuracy by putting the probe in a pot of boiling water. The thermometer should read 212F (100C).
Use the candy making chart below in conjunction with a candy thermometer to determine which temperatures are optimal for your desired type of candy.
Sugar Caramelization Temperatures and Stages
|Temperature||Sugar Stage||Description and Uses|
|Burned Caramel||Too bitter- You've gone too far|
|Very Dark Caramel||Dark and bittersweet|
|Dark Caramel||Dark and intense. Glazes|
|Amber Caramel||Rich and sweet. Glazes|
|Light Caramel||Sugars start to break down and form more complex flavors. Brittle, Spun Sugar, Lollipop, Glaze|
|Hard Crack||Becomes Brittle. Caramel stage begins at 310F (155C).|
|Soft Crack||Separates into bendable threads. Taffy, Butterscotch|
|Hard Ball||Nougat, Divinity|
|Firm Ball||Firmer Caramel|
|Soft Ball||Fudge, Fondant, Soft Caramel, Pralines|
|Thread||Makes a long thread when dropped in cold water. Syrup, Italian Meringue|
|Clear||Syrup, Delicate sugar candy|
|Clear||Syrup, Jelly, Some icings|
Get a price on the Instant Read Thermometer I Recommend at Amazon.