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A Candy Maker's Favorite Ingredient of All Time Is...

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This article is brought to you by Ten Speed Press. Head here to learn more about the new cookbook Candy is Magic by Jami Curl.

When I paged through Candy is Magic, the forthcoming cookbook from QUIN founder Jami Curl, I felt frantic elation. My eyes began to twitch. Pardon the simile, but I felt like a kid in a candy shop.

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This is just a teaser ;) Scroll down for more.
This is just a teaser ;) Scroll down for more. Photo by Julia Gartland

There are glassine lollipops in every color, like pendants I'd string on a chain, wear on my neck, and clutch for good luck. There are puffy, powdery marshmallows that go by the name "Candy Clouds," like the foam pit filling at my childhood gymnastics center. There are gumdrops coated in sugar crystals, like stepping stones in Candy Land! Caramels! Ice creams! Chewies! Where to begin?

For that moment, I forgot that, before opening the book, I considered myself the type of candy connoisseur more interested in eating candy than making it (brittle being the exception). But with the doodles, the asides, the science on a need-to-know basis, I felt safe—and also, sugar-high.

And, here's a fun secret: Jami's approach to candy-making—which rests on "tested methods, quality ingredients, and developing outstanding flavor"—makes the book invaluably inspiring even if you think you don't want to make candy (though take a walk-through and check back in with me when you've finished).

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Jami's "favorite ingredient of all time," for example, is not glucose syrup or citric acid or gelatin (though you might need those, for some recipes): It's a simple sugar mixture called Magic Dust that can build that "outstanding flavor" she refers to in a multitude of applications, candy and otherwise. "This stuff really is magic," she writes (I'm inclined to believe her).

While she shares formulas for five types of Magic Dust in the book—Chocolate, Malted Chocolate, Doughnut, Sweet & Sour, Five-Spice—she calls the first in particular "a revelation," adding complexity to chocolate sauce, hot fudge, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate lollipops, chocolate caramels, and more. Jami's Chocolate Magic Dust recipe makes about 600 grams (or about 3 cups), which will seem like a lot, but don't be tempted to scale down just yet: "I promise you, if you have the dust at the ready, you will be more likely to use it."

Are your knees knocking in anticipation? Here's how to make and use it.

There are no shoots—just ladders.
There are no shoots—just ladders. Photo by Julia Gartland

How to make it:

For 600 grams of magic dust, dump 460 grams of granulated sugar (E, in the image above) into a mixing bowl. Sift together...

  • (A) 116 grams cocoa powder (Jami says there's nothing like Felchlin cocoa powder—she's searched the world and it's the best there is)
  • (B) 2 grams kosher salt
  • (C) 2 grams ground cinnamon
  • (D) 3 grams vanilla bean powder (a favorite ingredient at QUIN, it's 100% finely-ground vanilla beans and can be purchased at specialty baking shops and online)

Add the sifted mixture to the sugar, then whisk "until it looks like a big bowl of sparkly chocolate powder (again, magic)." Once you're there, you can keep a stock of magic in an airtight container (like a deli) or even a resealable bag, for up to a year.

How to use it (the tip of the iceberg):

In Jami's book, she explains the importance of a scale in achieving accuracy in candy-making: "I insist that you use a kitchen scale for weighing all the ingredients that go into candy recipes that I follow" in order to "take advantage of every opportunity that can lead to truly successful candy." In that spirit, we're providing measurements in weight.

1. Whipped Cream

To make 1 pint (2 cups) of whipped cream, pour 8 fluid ounces of heavy cream into a chilled bowl and start whisking on low speed, slowly incorporating 35 grams of Magic Dust. Whip until the cream holds a peak, then spoon on top of a slice of pie or pound cake, use as a landing pad for roasted fruit or fresh berries, or add to an ice cream sundae.

2. Butter

Soften 113 grams of butter (1 stick), then cream it with 3 tablespoons of Magic Dust. To store the butter, spoon it onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a small log or disc. Wrap fully and refrigerate until you're ready to spread it on toast, to fill for sticky buns or babka, fry brioche croutons for a crunchy ice cream topper, or revive stale croissants.

Lemon Curd Rolls

Lemon Curd Rolls by Erin McDowell

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha by Genius Recipes

3. Hot Cocoa

Pour 8 fluid ounces of whole milk into a small saucepan and warm over medium low heat. When the milk is steamy, but not boiling, remove the pan from the heat and mix in 2 heaping tablespoons of Magic Dust. Whisk until the Dust has been incorporated and no lumps remain. Drink warm or transfer to the refrigerator, chill until cold, and then serve over ice.

4. Waffles (or Pancakes!)

Chocolate-ify your breakfast in one easy step. Mix up your favorite waffle (or pancake) recipe, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons Magic Dust per every cup of batter. (Or, get one step ahead of the game and incorporate the Magic Dust into your homemade pancake mix.)

Cook as usual, then top with Magic Dust Whipped Cream.

Aretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness

Aretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness by Genius Recipes

Game-Changing Pancake Mix

Game-Changing Pancake Mix by EmilyC

5. Cookies Etc.

To make chocolate cookies extra chocolatey—or to give non-chocolate cookies (chocolate chip, perhaps) a chocolate tinge—replace the white sugar with Magic Dust. For the Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies pictured above, we replaced the sugar with Magic Dust, cut the salt (to account for the amount in the M.D.), and rolled the cookies in additional Dust before placing them on the baking sheet.

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies by Food Blogga

Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies by Posie Harwood

But it's not just cookies that benefit from a Magic Dust boost. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top of banana bread before you bake it, or incorporate it into the streusel for a cake (it'd be very good here or here), or sprinkle it over the top of pie dough once you've done the egg wash. Make elephant ears (a.k.a. palmiers), dipping each one in Magic Dust instead of white sugar... We (and you!) will go on and on.

6. Hot Fudge

For 1 pint (2 cups) of hot fudge, combine 236 grams of heavy cream, 216 grams of Magic Dust, 200 grams of light brown sugar, and 113 grams of unsalted butter (1 stick), and 3 grams kosher salt. Set the pan over medium heat and stir until the butter melts. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to help the Magic Dust melt into the other ingredients. Once it's simmering, turn down the heat to medium-low and set a timer for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally and then, when the 2 minutes are up, give the mixture a good whisk, remove it from the heat, and pour into a heatproof bowl. Add 10 grams of vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

Jami pours hot fudge over ice cream (classic) and also uses it, cold, as a cake filling (magic!).

More ideas for making and using spicy and scented sugars, this way:

How to Make and Use Scented and Spicy Sugars
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How to Make and Use Scented and Spicy Sugars

What's the first thing you'd make with Chocolate Magic Dust? Tell us in the comments below!

This article is brought to you by Ten Speed Press. Head here to learn more about the forthcoming cookbook Candy is Magic by Jami Curl.

Tags: ten speed press, candy is magic, quin