I'm not sure how it happened, but it seemed like every taffy recipe I found had really high cooking temperatures. After six batches, I think I've got the temperature just right!
This makes for a great party activity! Each batch will yield about 40 pieces of candy. Each batch is enough for 4 guests to pull but you could reduce the count per guest and have each batch for 6 or 8 guests.
To make salt water taffy, you will need the following tools:
An accurate candy thermometer
A lipped baking sheet or pan
Wax paper torn or cut into ~4"x4" squares
And you will need the following ingredients:
1 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
3/4 c light corn syrup
2 T butter
2/3 c water
1 t salt
1/8 t baking soda
~1 T extra butter for the pan and your hands
Hard Candy Flavoring Oil
Gel food coloring
Step 1: Cook the Candy
Use the additional butter to grease a lipped sheet or pan. I used a 1/4 sheet pan. Combine all the ingredients (aside from the baking soda) in a saucepan and heat on medium high.
Whisk continuously for the duration of the cooking period while keeping an eye on the temperature. The candy will come to a boil quickly but overall you should anticipate the cooking time being 10-15 minutes (depending on how shallow your pot is). You may have to turn down the temperature a bit if your candy boils very high in your pan; that's ok.
When your candy reaches 245ºF, immediately remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in your baking soda. Then pour the candy into your greased pan to cool.
Step 2: Pull the Candy Into Taffy
When you candy is cool to the touch, you can begin the pulling process. The candy will be pliable but not sticky. If the candy is not pliable, you cooked the candy to too high of a temperature and it cannot be pulled into a soft taffy.
Cut the taffy into quarters (this is a good amount to work at at time and will yield about 10 pieces for each of your guests). Roll and press it into a long snake shape and begin to pull and stretch it out long. Then fold in half and pull again in the same fashion. The first minute or so of pulling is stringy and doesn't feel promising; it will get better! As you continue to pull, the process will be easier and less stringy. The color will change from being milkily transparent to being opaque white. Some photos above show the comparison of the stages to the finished product.
Step 3: Taffy Finishing Touches
Add a few drops of a flavoring of your choice. Use a Hard Candy Flavoring Oil like Lorann Brand. Pull your candy a few times to incorporate the flavor and taste to see if you are getting the strength you want. You'll notice the candy gets a little sticky at this point so if you need to set down the candy, put it on a buttered surface.
Once to taste, add your coloring. Use a gel food coloring to avoid adding extra liquid. Add only a small amount at a time (you can always add more) as dictated by what you can apply with the tip of a toothpick. Pull the taffy more to mix and incorporate the colors.
Now form the taffy into a long snake and use scissors or a knife to cut your candy into small chunks. Make sure any cutting tools or surfaces have butter smeared around as your candy is stickier now with the additional flavoring and coloring components.
Press the chunks into taffy shapes and wrap in wax paper. The recipe should yield about 40 taffy candies.
**Coloring and flavoring can be adding during the cooking process. The advantage of adding as a final step is that you can divide your taffy and make lots of different flavors and colors and allow your guests some creative potential.**