1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Confectionery

CONFECTIONERY (from Lat. confectio, conficere, compound), a term of rather vague application, embracing all food preparations of the nature of sweetmeats, pastry, &c., which have sugar (q.v.) for their basis or principal ingredient. In this way the industry may be said to include the preservation of fruits by means of sugar, the manufacture of jams and jellies, the art of preparing fruit-syrups and pastes, ices, and sweetened beverages, in addition to the various manufactures in which sugar is the more prominent and principal ingredient. In former days the making of sweetmeats was part of a druggist’s business, but in the earlier half of the 19th century it developed into a separate industry in England, and the International Exhibition of 1851 resulted in its spreading to other countries. At the present day France and Germany are prominent in all sorts of confectionery and bon-bons; and the “candy” industry in America has developed enormously.

The simplest form in which sugar is prepared as a sweet for eating is that of lozenges, which consist of finely ground sugar mixed with dissolved gum to form a stiff dough. This is rolled into sheets of the desired thickness from which the lozenges are stamped out by appropriate cutters and then allowed to dry and harden in a heated apartment. They are coloured and flavoured with a great variety of ingredients, which are added in suitable proportions with the dissolved gum. Many kinds of medicated lozenges are also in extensive use, the medicinal ingredients being similarly incorporated with the gum. Hard sweetmeats, comfits or dragées, constitute another important variety of confectionery. To make these a core or centre of some kind is taken, consisting of a small lozenge, or of some seed or fruit, such as an almond, coriander, caraway, pistachio, &c., and successive layers of sugar are deposited around it till the desired size is attained. The cores are placed in large copper pans or vessels which are heated by a steam coil or jacket, or by hot air, and which are geared to rotate at an inclined angle so that their contents are kept constantly in motion, tumbling over each other. From time to time sugar syrup is added as they appear to get dry, and after receiving a certain coating they are removed to dry and harden. After a sufficient number of alternate coatings in the pan and dryings, the comfits are finished with a coating of thin syrup, which may be coloured if desired. Another extensive class of confectionery is made with sugar boiled at different temperatures, the various degrees of heating being known as thread, blow or feather, ball, crack, caramel, &c. In some cases a little cream of tartar, or glucose to the extent of 30% or even more, is used with the sugar. By treatment of this kind the sugar is obtained in a wide range of consistencies, from soft and creamy, as in fondants, to clear and hard, as in barley sugar. By vigorous and continued drawing out or “pulling” of boiled sugar while it is in a plastic condition, the molecular structure of the material is changed, and from being glassy and transparent it becomes opaque, porous and granular in appearance. In this way the preparation known as rock is manufactured. For liqueurs, a flavoured syrup is dropped into moulds impressed in dry starch, when a crust of sugar forms on the outside, the interior remaining liquid. The thickness of this crust is then increased by immersing it in syrup from which more sugar-crystals are deposited upon it, and the sweets may be finished in the comfit-pan already mentioned. Sugar-candy is prepared from solutions of either brown or refined sugar, to the latter of which cochineal or other colouring ingredient is frequently added. The solutions, when boiled to a proper degree, are poured into moulds across which pieces of string are stretched at sufficient intervals. Kept in a chamber heated from 90° to 100° F., the sugar gradually crystallizes on the strings and the sides of the mould, and when sufficient has been deposited the remaining liquor is drained off, and the crystals are removed and dried by heat. Machinery, often of elaborate character, is now extensively employed in almost all branches of the confectionery trade. For chocolate see that article, also Cocoa.