In my last Curious Cook column for 2010, I write about the advantages of cooking down candy mixes in the microwave oven, which is more forgiving in several ways than the stovetop. I also give recipes for nut brittle, New-Orleans-style pralines, and saffron-flavored Turkish delight.
For any home cook who enjoys candy-making or would like to give it a try, I strongly recommend Peter Greweling's recent book Chocolates and Confections, in the Culinary Institute of America's "At Home" series (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). His Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner (Wiley, 2007) delves deeper into the technical details.
And for an eye-opening review of just how complex the chemistry of candy syrups is, take a look at the review cited below.