I meant to post this months ago, as a companion to the Pickled Ginger recipe from early Spring. Where did the time go?
It’s not too late though – ginger is still well in season and whether you grow your own or buy it, you should be able to get the nice, very fresh juicy ginger that you need for this. Both crystallised sugared and pickled ginger only meet the WK criteria for healthy because they are eaten in such tiny quantities. If you have a real sweet tooth, crystallised ginger is a good one because the spiciness of the ginger means you aren’t so tempted to overindulge. I’m not much of a sweet tooth, but this ginger, especially covered in dark chocolate, is to die for. And because it is so decadently gorgeous, it would make good last minute Christmas presents.
You need really fresh, really juicy ginger. Try scraping the skin with your thumbnail, and if it doesn’t scrape off easily, the ginger is too old. The recipe works for any quantity.
You also need to be able to pick toffee stages. The cold water test is the easy way to do it, and this is a good description. Read it first, because you won’t have time during. You will be aiming for the hard crack stage but before the sugar starts to caramelise.
Peel ginger and chop into small cubes, 1.2 cm or so. Very fresh ginger peels really easily just using the side of a spoon to scrape the thin skin off.
Cover with water and cook 35 mins or so till the ginger is translucent and you can spear it with a fork. Top up the water as needed. You are aiming to have just a little bit of water left at the end, about a tablespoon full for every cup of ginger.
Drain and weigh the cooked ginger (keeping the water), and add an equal amount of white sugar. Add the hot ginger water back in. You should have enough to just dissolve the sugar.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is almost all gone. You are aiming for the sugar to reach the hard crack toffee stage. If you put a little spoonful of the liquid into a bowl of cold water, it will instantly set brittle. It will take about 20 minutes, and it turns quite quickly from wet and sticky to dry and crystallised. Take it off the heat as soon as it does or the sugar will start to darken.
Tip onto a tray, spread it out and cool, breaking up with a fork as it cools so as not to form clumps.
It’s addictive as a lolly, on its own or in dark chocolate. But it is also great in biscuits or cakes.