Hard candy can seem intimidating to make. You're dealing with hot temperatures and minute changes and praying that the sugar hardens into the shape you desire. But honestly, I was shocked by how easy it was to make lollipops. It's basically a very light toffee on a stick. As long as you let the syrup heat up to the right temperature and pour it into the molds immediately, you'll be all good. I love the combination of honey and lavender, so I went there first, but feel free to mix in any other flavors you like. If you're using ground spices of extract, add them at the very end, once the syrup is off the heat. Read on to find out more.
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp. culinary lavender, crushed
Gold leaf (optional)
>Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats. Or fill a jelly-roll pan with cornstarch and use a shot glass to make indentations in the cornstarch (space the lollipops 3 to 4 inches apart to guarantee they don't run into each other) and place the lollipop sticks in them. This method creates more-defined lollipop shapes.
>Combine the sugar, honey, lavender, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the interior of the saucepan.
>Increase the heat to medium high to bring the mix to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Using a small pastry brush dipped in water, wash down the sides of the saucepan to prevent crystals from forming.
>Boil the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, until it reaches 310 degrees Fahrenheit (hard-crack stage) on the candy thermometer.
>Working quickly, strain the syrup onto the baking sheets to form circles that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Immediately press in the lollipop sticks and sprinkle the lollipops with your sprinkles or candy, lightly pressing the garnishes into the syrup. Let cool completely until fully hardened; then carefully peel the lollipops off the baking sheet. Wrap in wax paper.
Delicious honey is the foundation of this candy, so choose one you love. My current favorite is this Black Button Sage Honey from Honey Pacifica.
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Have you ever made candies? What kind? How did it go?