Here is Sophie's system for making hard candy. Her basic recipe is from the LorAnn Oils site. They make great concentrated oils and dozens of awesome flavourings, though natural foods stores are a good source of basic essential oils as well.
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup (use clear or amber as desire: only colour will be affected)
3/4 cup water
5 – 15 drops of liquid food colouring
1 tsp. essential oil or other concentrated flavouring (use half as much for clove, cinnamon or peppermint oil)
For dusting: 1 cup of icing (confectioner's) sugar
Small to medium sized clean, heavy-base pot with heat-proof handle and lid. (Mixture will bubble up to approximately twice its initial volume, so you need to have a good bit of room to spare.)
Accurate candy thermometer (We use our laser infrared digital thermometer which works great but a decent analogue one will suffice.)
Molds (sprayed with light cooking oil) and lollipop sticks if desired
Dough scraper (lightly oiled)
Marble slab or other heat-proof surface (lightly oiled)
Heavy-duty scissors or kitchen snips (lightly oiled)
Pan or rubbermaid container in which to toss candies in icing sugar
Basic metal kitchen sieve
Damp cloths for quickly wiping up spills.
A source of water for rinsing hands as needed.
A well-organized workspace that will not risk a person carrying a pot full of extremely hot sticky syrup tripping over a child, a stool or a dog whilst moving to counter area to pour candy.
|The beginning of the Butter Rum candies|
Place granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in the pot. Stir gently just enough to dampen the sugar. Put the spatula aside and resist any temptation to stir again until mixture is done cooking. Heat on medium heat on stove until mixture starts to simmer. Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer away covered for a couple of minutes at least. The condensation on the sides of the pot will was down any lingering sugar granules and help prevent crystallization later on. Remove lid.
Monitor temperature periodically as the mixture boils. It will likely hang around 212ºF (100C) for a while until the water boils off and then beginning climbing gradually. The rate of increase may increase as the temperature increases, so be vigilant.
|A deep red for Cinnamon candies|
At 260ºF (125C) add drops of liquid food colouring as desired. Just sprinkle them on the boiling syrup. Don't stir! The boiling action will mix the colour in.
As soon as the syrup hits 300ºF (150C) turn off stove and remove pot from heat. Wait for boiling to subside. Measure out your flavouring and pour on top of syrup. Use spatula to stir it in. Warning: some flavourings, especially the natural oils, let off a lot of harsh sinus-penetrating volatile aromatic hydrocarbons. Stand back while stirring!
|Lovely shiny ribbons|
Pour one to three ribbons of syrup onto your heat-proof oiled surface and then place saucepan back on stove on lowest heat to keep remaining syrup liquid. Don't touch the ribbons at first.
Use dough scraper to fold them over on themselves once or twice. After they begin to hold a more rolled, three-dimensional shape, they are ready to start handling.
Work quickly! Touch lightly with clean hands and keep your hands and the candy ribbons moving so as to avoid burns. We like to twist ours a dozen or so turns and then roll the twisted rods like snakes a bit between our palms to compact them.
Snip into candy-sized lengths into icing sugar while still warm and pliable. Toss to cover with icing sugar. Repeat until all the syrup has been turned into candy. Sift off excess icing sugar.
Alternatively you can pour all your syrup onto a rimmed cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled foil, wait a couple of minutes and score your clear lake of candy into bite-sized bits with the back of a lightly oiled dinner knife. If the scores fill in, the candy is still too hot: wait a couple of minutes and repeat. Allow scored candy sheet to cool completely, then break into bits along the scoring lines.
|Sophie gets three beautiful lollipops and this |
many candies from a single batch
Or you can use lightly-oiled candy molds. (Not the kind made just for chocolate: they won't stand the high heat of this syrup. You need the kind intended for hard candy.) Pour. Cool. Turn out.
Candy should be stored in a cool dry area, inside something moisture-proof.