Looking for a fun St. Patrick’s Day project that doesn’t involve stinking up the house with cooked cabbage? (I actually really love corned beef and cabbage, just not the smell associated with it!)
I found these adorable hard candy molds on Amazon.com and thought I would give my hard candy skills a try, even though I haven’t made suckers since I was a small girl in 4H. I thought it would be nice to share with my kids some of the fun things I remember loving as a child.
You’ll need: Hard candy molds, sucker sticks, 1 dram of flavor oil, food coloring, candy thermometer, plastic snack bags for covering, ribbon or twist ties, gold glitter sprinkles, corn syrup, sugar, and water.
Start by prepping your molds. Spray them with a light coating of canola oil and then insert the sticks. Make sure your molds are rated for hard candy and not just chocolate, otherwise they may melt. No one likes melted plastic suckers.
Measure out 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, and 1/3 cup water.
Pour the ingredients into a pot on the stove over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. You may need to use a wet basting brush to wash down any sugar crystals that have attached to the side of the pot.
Once the sugar is dissolved DO NOT STIR. Let it boil untouched until it reaches 295 degrees which is what the candy world calls the “hard crack stage”. You will see why it’s called the hard crack stage if you happen to drop a handful of lollipops you just made- drop…. crack….shatter. Doh!)
Insert a candy thermometer, which can be found for a few dollars from your local craft store. I paid less than $4.00 for mine. Use caution not to let the thermometer rest on the bottom of the pot.
Once it reaches 295 degrees, immediately remove from heat and as quickly as possible. Stir in a few drops of food coloring and 1 dram of flavoring oil. CAUTION-as you add the coloring and flavor oil the mixture will produce a big gust of steam which can burn you if you’re not careful. Don’t over stir.
(Flavor oil is different from flavor extract – it’s much more potent. 1 dram is 3.7 ml or .125 fl oz., which is 1 bottle unless you are buying it in bulk or in a professional size. The oils come in a variety of flavors: cotton candy, spearmint, apple, mint, cherry, lime, cinnamon, watermelon, etc. etc.) You can use any flavor you desire, I wanted to stick with something that made sense with the green color so I opted for apple!
Your candy will start to set immediately so you will have to work super fast to get the liquid into your molds.
After pouring, allow to set for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove the lollies from the molds onto a cookie sheet or platter lined with parchment paper. I was pleasantly surprised with how fast they set and how easy they were to remove.
The next step is what gives these adorable little shamrock lollipops the WOW factor! Get a small bowl of water and a small bowl of gold glitter sprinkles found at most craft stores in the baking section. Dip one side of the lollipop into the water, then into the glitter, and voila… CANDY BLING!
Place the lollipops back on the parchment to dry, which will only take a few minutes.
Carefully place the snack bag over the top or wrap in plastic wrap and tie it off with a twist tie or coordinating ribbon.
I thought it would be fun to display them in my shamrock glass, which I etched myself. You can jazz up about any glass container with etching creme. Check out our etching tutorial here.
Now you can gather your loved ones to share leprechaun tales, discuss your Irish descent or the life of St. Patrick and enjoy your lovely lollipops!