If you are considering making candy at home, you will be hard-pressed to find one as trouble-free as rock candy. Lollipops are fun, and truffles and bonbons are possible, but they are all increasingly more demanding to make, so try rock candy first and get the utmost gratification for the least effort!
Here’s a simple and foolproof recipe how to make rock candy at home
Rock candy is so simple, it is the best possible choice of the many available options you have for making candy at home.
Start by attaching a light weight, even a paper clip will do (avoid the temptation to use “split shot” from the tackle box as these are made from lead), to the bottom of a piece of cotton string to weight it down and ensure it hangs straight when suspended. Tie one end of the string to the center of a pencil, so that when placed over the opening of a jar, the thread ends about an inch from the bottom. Prepare the string by wetting it and rolling it in some granulated sugar then setting it apart to dry. This procedure prepares a base layer for the sugar crystals to form upon when next we add the sugar solution.
Now, cook the sugar syrup. You can create sugar syrup by adding 2 cups granulated sugar for each 1 cup of water and bringing the solution to a boil. If you have a candy thermometer make sure the temperature reads 265 degrees Fahrenheit, if you don’t, boil for about two or three minutes for all the sugar to fully dissolved.
Careful! Hot sugar syrup requires care and cautious handling as it will burn badly if touched.
At this stage transfer the pot from the burner and add flavoring such as peppermint or lemon extract and a little food coloring if you wish. Stir them in with the minimum number of strokes. When the syrup is ready, pour it into the jar.
Now, lower the string you prepared earlier into the jar and cover it all with a towel. Within 2 to 4 hours you will start to see sugar crystals forming. Keep an eye on it and remove your rock candy from the jar before it is too big to clear the opening! That’s all there is to it! Pretty easy, right?
Another hard candy that is uncomplicated to create at home is lollipops. Use 1 cup of water, 3-1/2 cups granulated sugar, and 1-1/2 cups corn syrup. With these ingredients combined in a saucepan over medium heat (never high heat!), watch for the sugar to start dissolving. Bring to a boil and at this stage discontinue stirring until the temperature rises to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. A candy thermometer is indispensable for this process. Now, withdraw from the heat and add your flavor and color. Stir quickly using the fewer strokes the better to avoid undesirable grain in the completed candy.
After you pour the lollipop mixture into the molds, tuck the lollipop sticks into their openings. Let it set until cool to the touch and they are ready. When set, the lollipops will pop out of the mold, usually with a soft tap, so have a forgiving surface like a tea towel ready to drop them on. If your kids are helping, they’ll love helping with creatively wrapping and labeling your candies in cellophane, perhaps they can come up with a unique “house brand.”
The one secret to creating perfect hard candy is using the candy thermometer exactly. If the recipe calls for 300 degrees, boil the syrup till you see 300 degrees on the candy thermometer. Neglect or anticipate the proper temperature and you may get a gelatinous glob of goo that just won’t set properly. Continuing to stir after the right temperature has been achieved will also provide results that are “less than optimal.”
Hey, that’s what they say at NASA when something goes haywire! So, remember:
- Pay attention to your thermometer
- Remove the syrup from the heat when you reach the proper temperature
- Add additives without delay
- Stir them in efficiently
Now that you know how to make rock candy at home, you will develop skills and self-assurance that will move you on to the more difficult recipes. Never lose sight of the goal, which is to make candy at home and have some fun doing it! What are you waiting for?