Love candy and like to cook? Enter ODYSSEY‘s contest in the February 2012 “Candy: Sweet Science” issue and you might win a super sweet prize! First, read up on the science of concocting candy:

*from “Making New Candy Concoctions”

By Anna M. Lewis

To be a candy inventor, you need to be part chemist, part doctor, and part inventor. Here’s some food for thought when you start concocting your own sweet (or sour or salty) creations.

Chemistry of Candy: Sugar, of course! Basic candy is a mixture of sugar, liquid, and flavor that has been heated. Candy is created when the sugar mixture cools. As the sugar mixture temperature increases, the amount of water decreases. The less water in the mixture, the harder the cooled candy will be. The size of the crystals that form during cooling affects the texture of the candy. Adding corn syrup or glucose in small amounts, helps prevent crystals from forming, so the candy will be smoother, like caramel.

Heat: As the sugar mixture’s temperature increases, the mixture goes from sticky, cloudy sweet to dry clear sweet.

Acid: Adding an acid (like lemon juice or cream of tartar) helps in controlling the formation of crystals in candy. Acid breaks apart the glucose and fructose molecules. Remember, glucose helps prevent crystals from forming.

Fats: Butter and other fatty ingredients also interfere with crystallization, blocking molecules that are attempting to make crystals. Toffee is smooth and creamy due to the absence of crystals.

Remember, texture, smell, and temperature also play a part in the enjoyment of a taste.
Candy Concoction Contest
Use any of the ideas we’ve presented here to create your own new candy concoction. Describe your new candy treat (taste, texture, hardness), and include a list of ingredients and the process you used to make it. (CAUTION: If cooking is required, ask an adult to help. Please include cooking temperature.) Ask three friends to taste and rate your new candy. Send all the information with a photo of your new candy to: SWEET CONCOCTION: 30 Grove Street, Peterborough, NH 03458. Or email it to: odysseymagazine@caruspub.com. The last day for entries to be received is March 30, 2012. Be sure to include your name, age, and address. The winner will receive a sweet prize and have their concoction featured in an upcoming issue.

More information: http://www.odysseymagazine.com/pages/contests.asp