Yield: Makes 80-100 centers.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon hot water
- 1/4 cup (or less) very soft butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Instructions:In a 2-quart saucepan, cook sugar, 1 cup water, and cream of tartar to 238 degrees -- 240 degrees F. Wash sides of pan from time to time with a brush dipped in cool water. Remove from heat, and add baking soda dissolved in hot water. Do not stir. Pour at once onto cool marble or heavy stainless-steel cookie sheet wiped with a damp cloth. Let mixture stand for 10 to 12 minutes, until syrup feels lukewarm (110 degrees-115 degrees F). Cream with a spatula or a 3-inch paint scraper for 5 minutes. Then add butter, salt, and vanilla, and work them into the mixture until it is cool and thick. It should take 12 to 15 minutes.
When candy holds its shape and is no longer stringy, knead it for about 1 minute, but don't overmix. Small lumps will soften. Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired, while kneading. Wrap in waxed paper and keep cool. (Note: If buttercream doesn't hold its shape after working for 15 minutes, let it sit undisturbed for 15 minutes longer, then check. If it holds its shape, put it in a bowl, without kneading, and refrigerate.)
When ready to dip, shape into balls or ovals. Place on waxed paper and let stand for 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours. (If centers are to be dipped more than 24 hours after cooking, cook to 240 degrees F. Wrap well, chill, and remove from refrigerator 1 hour before shaping to soften.)
Raspberry Flavored Buttercream Centers
Instructions:Omit vanilla, and add instead 1 teaspoon or more raspberry extract, 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, and 1/8 teaspoon red food coloring.
Omit vanilla, and add instead 1 tablespoon (or to taste) lemon flavoring and 1/8 teaspoon yellow food coloring.
Maple Flavored Buttercream Centers
Instructions:Add 1 teaspoon maple flavoring and 1 tablespoon dark melted dipping chocolate. Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts.
Substitute orange extract and coloring for lemon.