Before you begin, read the recipe all the way through and assemble all the tools and ingredients you will need. Many candy recipes require that you act quickly once the sugar syrup reaches the desired temperature. Use care when working with hot sugar syrup, as it can cause severe burns.
Choose the right pans. Heavy-bottomed stainless steel pans are best for cooking sugar mixtures. Thin, lightweight pans tend to conduct heat - and cook sugar syrup - unevenly.
Use a candy thermometer when called for. They measure temperatures up to 400°. You'll find them in the kitchen-gadget section of many supermarkets, priced between $10 and $20.
Submerge the bottom of the thermometer completely in the sugar syrup to get an accurate reading. Using a narrow pan with tall sides makes the mixture deeper, but, if necessary, you can gently tilt a shallower pan to submerge the thermometer bottom.
Melt chocolate gently for best results. If chocolate gets too hot, it may not set properly and will develop "bloom" (white streaks) on the surface when stored. Stirring chopped chocolate in a pan or bowl over hot, not simmering, water maintains an even, low temperature, resulting in glossy, firmly set chocolate.