Monday, August 5, 2013

Raley’s Hand Crafted Rock Hard Candies

Raley's Hand Crafted Hard CandiesBoiled candies, or hard candies, are considered kind of ordinary in most situations. They’re not most people’s first choice, in fact, in most lists of candies, they’re often down at the bottom along with raisins and toothbrushes (basically, not even qualifying as candy). It’s sad, because there are good hard candies and boiled sugar candies can be some of the most beautiful of all candies out there.

Cut Rock is a tradition of candymaking that goes back at least 150 years. It’s a simple concept, different colors of hard candy are layered together and then pulled or rolled out to shrink the design and then cut into easy to eat pieces. (To make swirled lollipops, the centers are plain but the ropes of candy are wrapped into a disk and a stick is inserted.)

Raley's Emoticon MixRaley’s Confectionary in Florida is one of the new artisan companies to bring this tradition back, and their twist is to use natural colors, flavors and organic/fair trade sugar. (I’m not sure about the glucose syrup that’s mentioned in the ingredients label, but not on the website.) Since all he makes is hard candies, it’s vegan and gluten free (though he does make some nut items, so check before you order if you have an allergy).

If you want to see more about how it’s made, Raley did an educational video that addresses how scaling is important when creating the designs to make cut rock. And of course here’s a more generalized video that shows the whole process from start to finish:

Wes Raley (seen in action above) offered me some samples and since it’s summer, which I high season for hard candies, I accepted them. It then took a long time to get through the whole set: Emoticon Mix, Root Beer, Cappuccino, Pomegranate,
American Flag, Grapefruit, Lemon and Blueberry.

Raley's Emoticon Mix

The SA Emoticon Mix is a good place to start because it demonstrates the array of forms and designs that can be created and also includes a wide variety of flavors. Of course I don’t know what those flavors were supposed to be, since there was no key, so I can only guess. I know one was lime, and another was blueberry. The interesting thing about this version was how the diameter varied.

Raley's CappuccinoThe Cappuccino demonstrates the detail that Raley can get with the candy.

The center, as you may have seen in the video, is an aerated hard candy. This makes it white and the pulling of the hard candy also allows Raley to incorporate the flavors. It makes it crunchy without any of those annoying sharp voids that some hard candies get.

Each piece is a mere half in across, yet the wire thin brown “steam” coming from the little mugs is perfectly proportioned to the little cups of coffee.

The flavor on this particular candy is a little milder than the vivid and fruity Emoticons.

Raley's Cappuccino

The coffee flavor is a bit mild and thin for my tastes. It was toasty and less sweet, but more like a brown sugar candy than a true coffee with a bit of foamed milk experience. That said, it was one of the first bags I finished.

Raley's Pink Grapefruit

Grapefruit is one of several citrus flavors from Raley’s. The pieces are well made, a yellow rind and a pink sectioned interior sell the look. The outside is sweet and mild, but the aerated fruity center is tangy and nicely flavored. It’s a little zesty, only a slight hint of bitterness and quite tart at times.

Raley's Lemon

Here’s the real gem of all the varieties I tried: Lemon. This piece was yellow with a shiny yellow rind, white pith and yellow sections. Unlike the grapefruit, which was flavored on the inside, the outside was also flavored. So the rind was a gentle and sweet lemon, but the inside was extremely tart, zesty and juicy.

Raley's American Flag

These were absolutely adorable. The design is unlike most of the others that cut rock makers create, it has no jacket. Instead the flag’s stripes go right to the edge. It’s a complicated design, enough of the elements, colors and ratios are there for it to say “American Flag” even though it’s round.

The flavor is fun, the blueberry is sweet and has a good berry flavor and the strawberry is light and floral.

Raley's Root Beer

Root Beer was one that I was truly looking forward to, mostly because Raley doesn’t use artificial colors and one of my complaints about Root Beer Barrels is the aftertaste from the dye known as Red #40. This definitely did not have any aftertaste, but it didn’t have much of a forward taste either. It was exceptionally mild, like the Cappuccino. There was a hint of wintergreen bite, but not bite of tartness, no earthy ginger rooty flavors either. It was toasty but not like Root Beer.

But the candy was adorable, with the frosty mugs on a crunchy background. So I may have been disappointed that it wasn’t like I wanted it to be, but I still managed to eat the whole bag.

I give the fruity flavors a 9 out of 10 and the drink flavors an 8 out of 10 (they designs on those were especially good). The packages were stand up, zippered gussets. Each came with a little silica gel package inside, so even though I opened them (and resealed) they all stayed pristine. Some hard candies can melt and deform in the humidity or high heat, but these looked as good today as they did about a month ago when I got them.

Related Candies

  1. Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candies
  2. Krauterbonbons from Lubeck Christmas Market
  3. Trader Joe’s Classic Holiday Candy Mix
  4. Papabubble Amsterdam & Pillow Fight
  5. Hammond’s All Natural Lollipops
  6. The Apothecary’s Garden: Herbs (and some Bees)

Name: Rock Candies
Brand: Raley’s Confectionary
Place Purchased: Samples from Raley's Confectionary
Price: $5.00
Size: 3.0 ounces
Calories per ounce: 101
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Ethically Sourced, Hard Candy & Lollipops, Organic, 8-Tasty, 9-Yummy, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:57 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewEthically SourcedHard Candy & LollipopsOrganic8-Tasty9-YummyUnited States

  1. I feel that the US-themed variety simply screams that the middle should contain the shape of a pair of sunglasses.

    Comment by Alex on 8/06/13 at 8:07 am #
  2. My grandmother used to stock these candies in her candy dishes when I was a kid and I’ve never been able to find anything like them since. It’s great to stumble upon this article, it takes me back to a simpler time smile.  Thanks!

    Comment by Miranda Imperi on 8/06/13 at 1:48 pm #
  3. So the SA Emoticon mix was originally created for a web forum known as Something Awful (of which I am a member). The mix was updated at some point in the past, but if the one you got matches the flavors listed at the forum, they are (based on your picture from left to right):

    Sour Ginger
    Black Truffle and Pink Salt
    Super Sour Lime

    Your picture is missing the science emote, which is Blackberry Lemonade. Might be a new addition. Good stuff all around though.

    Comment by Russ Shackleford on 8/09/13 at 12:00 pm #
  4. Wow! Great live making demonstration on how rock is produced hand made and sculpted right before your eyes in the traditional way.. Delicious way of candy sugar art.

    Comment by Lexter Leonard on 8/17/14 at 11:28 pm #
  5. It was driving me nuts trying to find out what this candy was called…‘candy with little pictures on it’ didn’t work. smile Glad I finally found this post. I’ll be sending Raley’s my money soon!

    Comment by Stephen on 12/17/14 at 6:01 pm #
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