Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gloria's Candies: First Attempt

Well, our first experiment wasn't a complete failure. My instructions from the Mexican cooks were: Cook sugar and milk for a long time while continually stirring, then add pecans. Sure, it was a little vague, but I can make it work. Basically, I poured all of the granulated sugar I had into a sauce pan and began heating it; meanwhile, I covered it by about an half inch with 2% milk. We simmered and stirred it until it was nicely caramel colored and at the soft ball stage. I should mention that I also added a bit of 100% maple syrup at the beginning (more on this later). So, I cut off the heat and added the finely chopped pecans. I let it cool for a while then stirred vigorously to incorporate air to keep it from being a dense caramel - I was looking for more of a light fudge consistency. They were decent, but very crystalized. I added a few drops of milk to help dissolve the crystals and bring it back into a cohesive mass, but it didn't completely cure the crystal problem.

When I decided to add the maple syrup, it wasn't just because maple and pecans go so well together; I had intended to add an invert sugar to prevent the crystallization problem. As it turns out, I should have added honey instead, because pure maple syrup is not an invert sugar. Next time I will be adding honey or some other form of acid or invert sugar to keep the candy nice and smooth. The only other problem was that it wasn't nutty enough. Add more pecans than what you think you will need.

When I try the recipe again, I will post the amounts of ingredients that I used. It is all sort of a guessing game at this point since there are so few references to Gloria's Candies online.

Hope you enjoy!


Jennifer said...

So cool. Thanks for posting about your attempt.

I wonder if the candy will taste different due to the milk. I wonder if they use unpastuerized whole milk in MX?

Oh, and with the pecans, did you toast them before adding them?

Another thought, I wonder if you soaked the pecans in the milk for a while, before adding the sugar, if that would make it taste more pecan-y? I recall doing that with almonds for a recipe but don't know if it would work for pecans...

Keith Shank said...


I don't think the milk makes much of a difference. All of the milk I saw in Mexico was pasteurized or ultra high temperature pasteurized (UHT - shelf stable); which is not to say that you can't find raw milk, both from cows and goats.

However, the recipe cooks the milk for so long, that it goes far beyond the pasteurization stage and into the world of caramel. The caramel flavor was right on, just the texture was off. Instead of creamy and silky, it was a bit dry and crystaly.

As for the soaking the pecans in milk - that might not be a bad idea. I might try it with the milk before I make the caramel.

I sort of view this recipe as a light caramel fudge with pecans. My first impression was as if I were biting into a ball of pecan butter sweetened with powdered sugar.

I really think that the addition of an invert sugar will take care of the texture issue, and the addition of more pecan (or soaking them) will boost the flavor.

The first batch didn't even make it two days at my house. And I'm not even a big fan of candy!

Jennifer said...

I know you haven't perfected the recipe yet, but could you share the proportions... I have some free time this weekend (sick kid at home) and thought I'd mess around in the kitchen some. What would you say the ratio of milk to sugar was? (I have no idea! I think other than that I can really wing it and be okay.) I'll also make sure to add a bit of corn syrup.
(My other projects of the weekend: Alton Brown pizza crust, hindered by the fact that I don't have a stand mixer!, and a giant sugar cookie with the words "math rules!" on it for my daughter's math teacher)

Keith Shank said...

Really, I didn't measure the liquid. I just put sugar in a sauce pan, about an inch or so. Then I covered with milk by about about a half an inch. When I stirred it all together it was pretty liquid. It took a long time for it to get to the caramel stage - maybe an hour. When you drop some into a glass of cold water it should be like soft candy. Then I turned off the heat added the pecans and let it cool for a few minutes. After that I kept stirring as it cooled - this is where it gets really difficult to stir, but you have to incorporate some air into it to lighten it. Then you can form balls and let them cool.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the advice. I didn't get around to making the candy this weekend. (But I did make Algerian flatbread and it came out pretty good. Not as good as the flatbread at Flattop Grill, but good).
I'll try it soon, though.

Indyaanna said...

I think you are supposed to use
goat's milk

Indyaanna said...

I think its supposed to be made with goat's milk.

Anonymous said...

Instead of milk, use goat milk. It gives it a richer taste. It is what they actually use in the candies.