This idea is a little late for this year, but maybe it would be useful for next year or another occasion where you are looking to make a gift for someone.
Growing up, my mom would make Hard Candy. I always thought it was hard to do. After all, it’s candy. I decided to give it a try this year and made one batch. Besides what appeared to be an icky clean-up (but it’s not – once you know the trick!), it was very easy to make. The hardest part is time because you do need to monitor the cooking of the candy because the temperature is important.
Here’s a link to the recipe I used – it was on the back of the flavoring oils I bought (here). All you need is sugar, light corn syrup, water, flavoring oil, food coloring (if needed) and a small amount of powdered sugar.
The flavoring oil is what gives the candy the flavor. I searched the local stores for it, but couldn’t find it. While looking one day in Walmart, I was telling a friend what I was looking for and a woman standing nearby mentioned that there was a display of them in the craft section of the store! I never would have looked there for them. I was thankful that the woman helped out!
The flavoring oils I bought came two in a package, like the one you see here. One small bottle makes one batch of hard candy. I paid $1.99 a package.
Back to the process. Basically, you mix the sugar, light corn syrup and water together to dissolve the sugar. Then you get the mixture boiling and let it keep boiling. After a while you can add food coloring (if desired – I found that I didn’t need it for Grape, Watermelon and Butterscotch since it already was colored with the flavoring I purchased). Once the temp is at 300 degrees F (which you’ll need a candy thermometer for – we found ours for $1.50), you remove from heat and add the flavoring. Mix well, then pour onto a cookie sheet (I sprayed mine lightly with no stick cooking spray). Let cool completely. Then have fun breaking it into pieces. I placed a paper towel on top of the candy and used a meat tenderizer on it’s side to break it up. It breaks like glass and the edges are sharp at first. NOTE: If you have hard candy molds, you can make candy into shapes or even make suckers. But it has to be a hard candy mold to withstand the heat.
You dust the pieces a little bit with powdered sugar and then you put in an air tight container. At that point, I shake the container of hard candy a little and that seems to smooth out the sharp edges some. You can also try to break in uniform pieces by scoring the candy while it is still pliable. I kept the candy shape random since that’s how mom used to make it 🙂
After I made my first batch, I was really concerned about clean up. The candy gets hard once it cools and it was stuck like you wouldn’t believe to the pan and spoon. The recipe didn’t say anything about clean up! By accident, we found out the trick to clean up. Soak everything in water for a while. The hard candy will dissolve right off, making clean up a breeze.
I ended up making three batches to give away as small gifts to others – Grape, Butterscotch and Watermelon. The purple, yellow and pink colors actually went together really well. Depending on how much you’d like to spend, you can get a fancy christmas tin or use another container maybe with a bow on top. I don’t think it matters much because the tasty treat inside is delicious. The butterscotch so far is my favorite…yum!
I was a little scared to try making hard candy, but it ended up being easy to make so I thought I would share my experience with it. Next year, I’m making a few more flavors and giving it out to a lot more people as gifts. I’ll shop the after christmas sale this year for some festive containers 😉
Thanks for sharing how you do this, Tricia. You make it sound easy enough for me to try it.
I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas!
I think it’s more than coincidental that you’ve seized control over family meal and treat production at the same time you got your budget in line. Along with the health and economic benefits, it indicates that you’ve gotten psychological control over the situation, meaning (in my Live to Eat book, anyway), gotten your priorities straight, because meal planning requires ongoing attention. So congrats on that. Cooking really is easy, if you take it a step at a time, and so much advice is available on blogs, that when you do something for the first time, you can read about all the pitfalls first. Really helpful, I find.
Also, congrats on not breaking your candy thermometer at some point during the process. I have never, ever managed that.
I can’t have sugar, but your candy sounds yummy, nonetheless! I remember making sea foam at home when I was a kid. Gosh, I loved that stuff.
We used to make that candy at Christmastime every year when I was a kid! One batch was always HOT cinnamon. Other flavors that I recall being on regular rotation where butterscotch, spearmint, lemon and watermelon. We never had grape that I recall, but sometimes had strawberry! I can almost feel those pointy ends poking me in the cheek!
Thanks for your post – it really brought back some memories!