confectionery

confectionery

[kuhn-fek-shuh-ner-ee]
confectionery, delicacies or sweetmeats that have sugar as a principal ingredient, combined with coloring matter and flavoring and often with fruit or nuts. In the United States it is usually called candy, in Great Britain, sweets or boiled sweets. Nonchocolate candy is roughly divided into two classes, hard and soft; the distinction is based on the fact that sugar when boiled passes through definite stages during the process of crystallization. Fondant, or sugar cooked to the soft stage, is the basis of most fancy candies, such as chocolate creams.

Sweetmeats, long known in the Middle East and Asia and to the ancient Egyptians, were at first preserved or candied fruits, probably made with honey. One of the earliest functions of candy was to disguise unpleasant medicine, and prior to the 14th cent. confections were sold chiefly by physicians. Medieval physicians often used for this purpose sugarplate, a sweetmeat made of gum dragon, white sugar, and rosewater, beaten into a paste. One of the earliest confections still surviving is marzipan, known throughout Europe; it is made of almonds or other nuts, pounded to a paste and blended with sugar and white of egg. In the Middle Ages it was sometimes molded into fancy shapes and stamped with epigrams.

Sugarplums, made of boiled sugar, were known in England in the 17th cent., but it was not until the 19th cent. that candymaking became extensive. The display of British boiled sweets at the national exhibition of 1851 stimulated manufacture in other countries, especially in France. In the United States in the middle of the 19th cent. about 380 small factories were making lozenges, jujube paste, and stick candy, but most fine candy was imported. With the development of modern machinery and the increasing abundance of sugar, confectionery making became an important industry. In 2001, estimated retail sales of chocolate, other candy, and gum in the United States had reached $24 billion, and more 1,400 new items of candy were introduced.

See P. P. Gott, All about Candy and Chocolate (1958); B. W. Minifie, Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery (1970); E. Sullivan, ed., The Complete Book of Candy (1981); T. Richardson, Sweets (2002).

Confectionery is a set of food items that are rich in sugar; modern usage may include substances rich in artificial sweeteners as well. Excessive consumption of confectionery has been associated with increased incidences of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.

Regional names

Different dialects of English use regional terms for confections:

  • In Britain, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries, "sweets", or "sweeties", particularly in Scotland (sweeties resembles the Scottish Gaelic word suiteis in both pronunciation and meaning) and among children. In some parts of England, spogs, spice and goodies are terms used, alongside sweets, to denote confectionery. In North-West England, especially Lancashire, toffees is often used as a generic term for all confectionery.
  • In Australia and New Zealand, "lollies".
  • In India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, "sweetmeat or sweetmeats".
  • In North America, "candy" - although this term can also refer to a specific range of confectionery and does not include some items called confectionery (e.g. pastry) (See below and the separate article on candy.) "Sweets" is occasionally used, as well as "treat".

Examples

Confectionery items include sweets, lollipops, candy bars, chocolate, Cotton candy, and other sweet items of snack food. The term does not generally apply to cakes, biscuits, or puddings which require cutlery to consume, although exceptions such as petits fours or meringues exist. Speakers of American English do not refer to these items as "candy." See candy making for the stages of sugar-cooking.

Some of the categories and types of confectionery include the following:

  • Hard candy: Based on sugars cooked to the hard-crack stage, including suckers (known as boiled sweets in British English), lollipops, jawbreakers (or gobstoppers), lemon drops, peppermint drops and disks, candy canes, rock candy, etc. These also include types often mixed with nuts such as brittle. Others contain flavorings including coffee such as Kopiko.
  • Fudge: A confection of milk and sugar boiled to the soft-ball stage. In the US, it tends to be chocolate-flavored.
  • Toffee (or Taffy or Tuffy): Based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage and then pulled to create an elastic texture. In British English, toffee refers to a harder substance also made from cooked sugars.
  • Swiss Milk Tablet. A crumbly milk-based soft candy, based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage. Comes in several forms, such as wafers and heart shapes.
  • Liquorice: Containing extract of the liquorice root. Chewier and more resilient than gum/gelatin candies, but still designed for swallowing. For example, Liquorice allsorts.
  • Chocolates: Used in the plural, usually referring to small balled centers covered with chocolate to create bite-sized confectionery. People who create chocolates are called chocolatiers, and they create their confections with couverture chocolate. A chocolate maker, on the other hand, is the person who physically creates the couverture from cacao beans and other ingredients.
  • Jelly candies: Including those based on sugar and starch, pectin, gum, or gelatin such as Lokum / Turkish Delight, jelly beans, gumdrops, jujubes, cola bottles gummies, etc.
  • Marshmallow: "Peeps" (a trade name), circus peanuts, fluffy puff, etc.
  • Marzipan: An almond-based confection, doughy in consistency, served in several different ways. It is often formed into shapes mimicking (for example) fruits or animals. Alternatively, marzipan may be flavoured, normally with spirits such as Kirsch or Rum, and divided into small bite-sized pieces; these flavoured marzipans are generally served coated in chocolate to prevent the alcohol from evaporating, and are very common in northern Europe. Marzipan is also used in cake decoration. Its lower-priced version is called Persipan.
  • Divinity: A nougat-like confectionery based on egg whites with chopped nuts.

Not all confections equate to "candy" in the American English sense. Non-candy confections include:

  • Pastry: A baked confection whose dough is rich in butter, which was dispersed through the pastry prior to baking, resulting in a light, flaky texture; see also pie and tart.
  • Chewing gum: Uniquely made to be chewed, not swallowed. However, some people believe that at least some types of chewing gum, such as certain bubble gums, are indeed candy.
  • Ice cream: Frozen flavoured cream.
  • Halvah: Confectionery based on tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds.
  • Alfajor: a traditional South American cookie typically consisting of two round sweet biscuits joined together with a sweet jam, generally dulce de leche (milk jam).
  • Dragée - Coated almonds and other types of coated candy.

See also

References

Further reading

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