One of my favorite things to do around the Holidays is making old fashioned hard candy. The house smells so good, and your friends love you for the gift.
- Cover every square inch of your countertops in newspaper topped with aluminum foil, and line your stove.
- Wear long pants, closed toed shoes, and long sleeves.
A sweet backstory
I learned from my sister in law. When I was first married, she invited me to a candy making party at a co-worker’s house. These ladies got together every year, the first weekend in December, to make roughly 20 batches of old fashioned hard candy.
We made tons of fruit flavors, plus a couple of mints, and even cinnamon which is strong but delicious. It was a fun event, and one that I always looked forward to. Every once in a while mother nature would humor us with a few snow flurries while inside the warm kitchen while candy syrup boiled away, and Christmas carols played in the background.
It’s been about 5 years since I last made candy. So, what’s the occasion you might ask. Well my daughter came home for a visit and specifically asked: Can we make candy when I come home? Well, of course. We spent a cold morning making 4 batches: orange, watermelon, raspberry, and spearmint. It was so much fun, and we did not even make that big of a mess. After years of making old fashioned hard candy, I learned a thing or two about keeping the mess to a minimum.
Tips for delicious candy and efficency!
- Using the right oils is key. I always use LorAnn Oils; they work well, and the intensity is perfect. Buy the 1 fluid dram size (3.7 ml, or .125 fluid oz.) You use one container per recipe batch.
- I like to make two batches at a time. So staggering the time is key. Wait about 5 minutes from when one batch starts to boil, and put on the next batch. I do have to be firm on this: Do not let the temperature of the syrup go above 300’F (hard crack stage). Once the syrup reaches 220’F it will seem as though it is stuck. Have patience. What will happen is that once it goes past that stage it will reach 300’F fairly quickly.
Some culinary tips to keep down the mess and make cleaning easier.
1.Have a large pot of water simmering on the stove to help rinse off the syrup from the pots and pyrex you use. This is incredibly helpful since hardened syrup is almost impossible to remove from a pot.
2. To transfer flavored syrup to the sugar troughs pour syrup in a 4 cup heat proof glass container that has been sprayed with Canola oil.
3. To form the candy strips, place a good amount of powdered sugar on a cookie sheet, then make troughs using a thick plastic hanger. This helps you make somewhat even-sized pieces.
4. For one batch you should have 3 cookie sheets prepared. I use a baking sheet with 15.25″ x 10.5″ x .75″ as shown below.
5. As soon as you empty out the syrup onto the troughs, place the glass container in the simmering pot. This will dissolve the residual candy and get the glass container ready for the next batch.
So here are the steps visually in a sweetened condensed version:
Step 1: Get your candy batch on the stove in a pot and get it to the “hard crack” stage of 300 degrees with your candy thermometer. Work in batches for each flavor and color.
Step 2: Fill your baking trays with powdered sugar and make troughs with a thick plastic hanger. You will pour the hot candy into each trough as shown above.
Step 3: After the candy hits 300 degrees add the 3-4 drops of food coloring and Lorann flavored oil. Stir to combine. Spray a heat proof glass pitcher with canola oil and pour the hot candy into the pitcher. Then pour, from the pitcher, the hot candy into the troughs of powdered sugar quickly before it gets hard. Wash the candy pot and glass pitcher in the simmering water pot and make another batch. Organize all the flavors and batches you want to make ahead of time.
Step 4: After the candy cools pull it from the troughs and break it into pieces. Smooth out the powdered sugar and make new troughs for the next batch with the plastic hanger. Sweet!
How to Make Old Fashioned Hard Candy
How to make old fashioned hard candy is so easy. It makes a perfect office gift for the Holidays, or really any occasion.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup corn syrup
- 3.7 ml spearmint oil (use other oils for each flavored batch)
- food coloring as needed
In a heavy pan, mix sugar, water and corn syrup. Heat on medium on the stove until the temperature reaches 300'F.
Remove from heat, and stir in the flavored oil, and then the food coloring. I would not do more than 3-4 drops of coloring. It all depends on the intensity of the color you want to achieve. Use 1 bottle of flavor oil per batch. (1 dram, 3.7 ml or .125 oz.)
Transfer contents to glass heat proof container.
Slowly pour contents into the troughs.
Allow the strips to cool, then break apart and place in containers. I like to place different flavors in different containers.