Saltwater Taffy is one of my very favorite classic candies--I love the soft, chewy texture, the fun swirls of color, and the seemingly endless variety of flavors! When I finally figured out how to make my own saltwater taffy at home, it was a revelation. I love being able to customize the colors and flavors to whatever I'm craving at the moment.
Pulling taffy is a big job, and a long job, so if possible, I recommend you recruit a friend or family member to help. It will make the job faster and more fun!
- 4 ounces or 1/2 cup water
- 11 ounces or 1 cup light corn syrup
- 14 ounces or 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon flavoring extract
- 1 ounce or 1/4 cup marshmallow cream
- 3-4 drops gel food coloring
1. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine the water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. When the sugar syrup comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer.
3. Cook the syrup, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 255° Fahrenheit (123°C).
This temperature will produce a wonderfully soft and chewy taffy. If you like your taffy stiffer, cook it to 260°F for a medium-firm taffy or 265°F for a very firm taffy. Once at the proper temperature, remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and flavoring, and stir until the butter melts and everything is well-mixed.
4. Pour the candy onto the prepared baking sheet and let it spread out. Add the marshmallow cream and food coloring on top. Let the candy cool until it starts to set around the edges, about 5-10 minutes. Slide a spatula under one edge of the candy and fold it into the center, over the marshmallow cream, then fold the other edges of the candy into the middle, making a compact package.
5. Put on plastic gloves to protect your hands, and spray your gloves with nonstick spray. Gather up the candy and knead it together in your hands until the marshmallow cream and coloring are mixed in. Holding the candy in both hands, pull your hands apart, stretching the candy into a rope between them. Bring your hands back together, twist the candy together, and repeat the pulling process. At first the taffy will droop and fall, but as you continue to pull the taffy, it will cool down and become firmer and easier to manipulate.
6. Continue to pull the taffy for 20 minutes, until it holds its shape well and becomes difficult to pull. You will start to see parallel ridges in the pulled candy toward the end of the process—this is a sign the taffy is ready.
7. Divide the taffy into quarters to make it easier to work with. Roll the taffy into a long thin rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Use oiled kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut it into small 1-inch pieces, and repeat with the remaining taffy. Wrap the taffy in waxed paper to help it keep its shape and prevent it from sticking together. Store Salt Water Taffy in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. You can keep it longer, but over time it will start to lose its soft and chewy texture.
Variation: To make striped taffy, prepare two baking sheets, and divide the sugar syrup evenly between them. Add half of the marshmallow cream to each batch, and add different colors on top. Pull each batch individually, and roll them into long thin ropes. Twist the ropes of different colored taffy together, then pull them thin so that the colors blend. Cut and wrap the striped taffy as usual.