Before you begin this recipe, please take a class from a professional on working with sugar. This is a skill that professional pastry chefs develop after years of experience. Working with sugar will burn your fingers so know before you start that your fingers will develop burn blisters. Place the sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan over high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until the sugar reaches 320 degrees F. Use a pastry brush to keep the inside of the saucepan clean as the sugar cooks or the sugar may recrystallize. To do this, dip a clean brush in cold water and brush the inside of the pan clean. Pour the cooked sugar onto 3 or 4 silicone baking mats. If you want to color and/or flavor the sugar with food colors and/or flavored oils, this is the time to do so. Add a few drops of color to the sugar. Mix with a wooden skewer. To get started, push the sugar from the sides toward the center. This process takes a little while. Try to keep the sugar divided by color. Use the mat to push the firm sugar around the edges toward the center. Use a folding motion to accomplish that task. The next step is to pick up the sugar with your hands. Place each color under the heat of the sugar lamp. Pull the sugar until it becomes glossy and the color is evenly distributed. You will need to pull the colors simultaneously. Keep them under the sugar lamp but keep an eye on them. The lamp can melt the sugar so it is important keep rotating it and folding it onto itself.
Start with 2 pieces of colored sugar. I used red and green. Pull them into a rectangular shape that is about 1 1/2-inches wide by 3-inches long and 1/2-inch thick. Place the pieces side-to-side and let them stick together on the long side. Place a piece of white sugar that is about 1/2-inch wide by 3-inches long and 1/2-inch thick in the middle. Close the red and green around it. Roll it and twist it while pulling it. When it gets to the desired thickness, use a scissor to cut the length and shape into a cane. Allow to cool completely. The white is inside and will become apparent when eaten.
Jacques? tips: Vinegar keeps the sugar from crystallizing. You will not taste the flavor. It serves as an acid in this recipe. Sometimes candy cane recipes contain corn syrup, which makes the sugar very dry and very hot. Adding corn syrup makes it more difficult to work with the sugar at home. Remember, the sugar is at 320 degrees F, and that will burn you. The ideal work surface is a silpat placed over cool marble or granite. If you do not have marble or stone, use wood. It is a good idea to use gloves to help protect your hands from the heat and to prevent burning.
I use a special sugar box that includes a special heat source, If you don?t have one, you can work in front of the oven. Set the oven to 300 degrees F. Open the oven door and place the silpat on the oven door. It provides a similar effect to the sugar box heater.
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