The Chemical Educator, Vol. 6, No. 5, S1430-4171(01)05510-8, 10.1007/s00897010510a, © 2001 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.
The Science of Sugar Confectionery. W. P. Edwards, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2000. If you need a sound, informative, and easy to read introduction to sugar confectionery, this is the book for you. The author indicates that the target for this book is a lay audience, but there is still plenty here for the more scientific reader. Early on, Edwards indicates that much of what is known about sugar-based confections was obtained by trial-and-error. It is his job to go back and apply the science to these observations, and this is well accomplished.
The first five chapters introduce the subject, and cover the basic science and ingredients, as well as a brief introduction to the confectionery plant itself. I believe that Chapter 2 should be required reading for any student of food chemistry, if only to reinforce the importance and utility of such concepts as water activity, colligative properties of aqueous solutions, and the Maillard reaction. Chapter 3 provides complete coverage of ingredients, including sugars, dairy ingredients, vegetable fats, and hydrocolloids. Emulsifiers, colors, and flavors are treated separately in Chapter 4.
Beginning with Chapter 6 and going through Chapter 15, Edwards treats various types of confections and processes of producing them in turn: boiled sweets (non-crystalline candies), grained sugar products, pan coating, toffees and caramels, gum candies, chewing gum, aerated products, sugar free confectionery, lozenges, and tabletting. Of these chapters, perhaps the most interesting (because, as Edwards notes, it has the most science behind it) is the chapter on sugar-free confectionery. The reasons for producing such products and their advantages and disadvantages are detailed. The principal sugar substitutes (the polyols, including erythritol, sorbitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt, and polydextrose) as well as a range of intense sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin, thaumatin, dihydrochalcone, and sucralose) are described. Also, the important notion of synergistic interaction between intense sweeteners is introduced in this chapter. As noted, this effect is more predominantly seen in soft drinks than in confectionery up to now.
For those with a practical bent, Chapter 16 will prove most interesting. Edwards has included a few experiments that illustrate many of the theoretical aspects described earlier in the book. The safety warnings are especially welcome as they are frequently ignored in other presentations of hot sugar syrup manipulation. The experiments presented deal with sugar crystallization and the factors that affect its extent and rate, lozenge making and the importance of the binder in this process, and fudge (with a lot of potential variations). Also included at the end of this chapter is a particularly useful discussion of taste testing and what it means for one sample to be statistically significantly different from another.
There are a few errors and typos that will show up, as in any book, but they are generally so minor as to not really require mentioning in any detail. If you are thinking of going into the confectionery business or just want to know a little more about candy in general, Edwards book should be on your “to purchase” list.