- Use a probe thermometer instead of a candy thermometer. The digital reading allows you to monitor the current temperature as well as set a desired temperature, so the thermometer will beep when the candy has reached the set temperature. Scorched pans, begone!
- Wear rubber welding gloves. It seems silly, but candy has the potential to seriously singe your fingertips. Since candy hardens so quickly, you really need to work with it while it's molten lava hot. Wearing thick gloves is the only way to make that happen safely.
- Keep the candy warm with a heating lamp or an electric stove. In my kitchen, I placed the candy atop a Silpat-lined metal cookie sheet, then placed the cookie sheet atop the electric stove. Set the temperature to the lowest setting ("1" or "Melt" on most stoves). It keeps the candy warmer and thus malleable longer, so the candy doesn't harden before you have a chance to stretch and cut all of the pieces.
I recently learned that making homemade hard candy isn't as easy as it looks. It's all about timing and temperature to make sure the candy reaches the proper consistency. To complicate matters further, it's stretched and pulled while still hundreds of degrees hot. Keep these three tips in mind for a smoother candy-making experience.