Confectionery is related to the food items that are rich in sugar and often referred to as a confection. Confectionery refers to the art of creating sugar based dessert forms, or subtleties (subtlety or sotelty), often with pastillage. From the Old French confection, origin of Latin confectio(n-), from conficere, to 'put together'. The confectionery industry also includes specialized training schools and extensive historical records. Traditional confectionery goes back to ancient times, and continued to be eaten through the Middle Ages into the modern era. Confections include sweet foods, sweetmeats, digestive aids that are sweet, elaborate creations, and something amusing and frivolous.
Modern usage may include substances rich in artificial sweeteners as well. The words candy (North America), sweets (UK and Ireland), and lollies (Australia and New Zealand) are also used for the extensive variety of confectionery.
Generally, confections are low in micronutrients but rich in calories. Specially formulated chocolate has been manufactured in the past for military use as a high density food energy source.
Confectionery items include sweets, lollipops, candy bars, chocolate, cotton candy, and other sweet items of snack food. The term does not generally apply to cakes, biscuits, or puddings which require cutlery to consume, although exceptions such as petits fours or meringues exist.
Some of the categories and types of confectionery include the following:
Caramels. Derived from a mixture of sucrose, glucose syrup, and milk products. The mixture does not crystallize, thus remains tacky.
- Chocolates. Bite-sized confectioneries generally made with chocolate.
- Divinity. A nougat-like confectionery based on egg whites with chopped nuts.
- Dodol. A toffee-like food delicacy popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines
- Dragée. Sugar-coated almonds and other types of sugar panned candy.
- Fondant. Prepared from a warm mixture of glucose syrup and sucrose, which is partially crystallized. The fineness of the crystallites results in a creamy texture.
- Fudge. Made by boiling milk and sugar to the soft-ball stage. In the US, it tends to be chocolate-flavored.
- Halvah. Confectionery based on tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds.
- Hard sweets. Based on sugars cooked to the hard-crack stage. Examples include suckers (known as boiled sweets in British English), lollipops, jawbreakers (or gobstoppers), lemon drops, peppermint drops and disks, candy canes, rock candy, etc. Also included are types often mixed with nuts such as brittle. Others contain flavorings including coffee such as Kopiko.
- Ice cream. Frozen, flavoured cream, often containing small pieces of chocolate, fruits and/or nuts.
- Jelly candies. Including those based on sugar and starch, pectin, gum, or gelatin such as Turkish delight (lokum), jelly beans, gumdrops, jujubes, gummies, etc.
- Liquorice. Containing extract of the liquorice root. Chewier and more resilient than gum/gelatin candies, but still designed for swallowing. For example, Liquorice allsorts. Has a similar taste to star anise.
- Marshmallow. "Peeps" (a trade name), circus peanuts, fluffy puff, etc.
- Marzipan. An almond-based confection, doughy in consistency, served in several different ways.
- Mithai. A generic term for confectionery in India, typically made from dairy products and/or some form of flour. Sugar or molases are used as sweeteners.
- Tablet. A crumbly milk-based soft and hard candy, based on sugars cooked to the soft-ball stage. Comes in several forms, such as wafers and heart shapes. Not to be confused with tableting, a method of candy production.
- Taffy or chews. A candy that is folded many times above 50 °C, incorporating air bubbles thus reducing its density and making it opaque.