7 Tips for Hard Candy Making Success

1. Recipe Round-Up

Determine whether you will be following the 1-Dram Hard Candy Recipe or the Large (Double) Batch Hard Candy Recipe.

2. Be in Great Shape

If planning to make molded candy, be sure to have plenty of heat-resistant hard candy molds (at least 5 sheet molds per regular batch of candy). Candy can also be simply poured onto prepared cookie sheets (avoid non-stick) or a marble surface and broken into pieces once cooled. Another technique is to pour the hot syrup in long ribbons into powdered sugar. When the candy is cool enough to handle, it can be cut into small pillow-like pieces with oiled scissors.

3. Organization is Key

How many batches of candy will you be making? Allow at least 30 minutes per batch. Once the target number of candy batches is determined, you can calculate how much sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring you will need. To keep things moving it’s also advisable to have two cooking pans available – one to use while the pan from the last batch is being cleaned.

4. Get it Down to a Science

The process of turning sugar into a hard, smooth, transparent confection involves heating a sugar/corn syrup/water solution to 300 – 310° F. {150 - 155° C.}, or what is known as the hard crack stage of sugar.  The use of a candy thermometer is not essential, but highly recommended and accuracy is critical.  
Test a thermometer’s accuracy by inserting it in a pan boiling water. After about five minutes, it should read 212° F or 100° C. If the reading is higher or lower, take the difference into account when testing the temperature of your sugar syrup.
For granulated sugar to transform into sugar glass (yes, hard candy is technically a glass) the sugar/corn syrup mixture needs to be heated to the proper temperature and cooled properly. If uncooked sugar crystals are reintroduced to the candy syrup, the mixture will revert back to its original large crystal state!
To prevent this, after your mixture comes to a boil, wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to wash away any sugar granules clinging to the sides of the pan. Also, use only clean, dry utensils when stirring the sugar syrup.

5. An Ounce of Prevention

Before you begin, read over the hard candy recipe thoroughly and have all of the necessary ingredients, pans, measuring cups, molds, utensils, and supplies on hand and ready to go.   Hard candy making is easy, but does involve high temperatures.  Caution should be used at all times when cooking and handling the hot sugar. Have a bowl of ice water on hand just in case of accidental exposure.  Children can help prep the molds, measure ingredients and package the candy, but should not be involved in the cooking or pouring of the sugar syrup.

Note:  Our super-strength flavoring oils are very concentrated.  We recommend using metal utensils and be sure to wipe-up spills promptly.
We also recommend making candy in a well air-conditioned kitchen during the summer months.  Heat and humidity are the enemies of hard candy!

6. Flavor Factor

Peppermint, spearmint, cherry and cinnamon are classics, but why stop there? Banana cream, blueberry, black cherry, and bubble gum are terrific too – and those are just the flavors that start with a “B.” Another twist is to combine flavors to create your own personal creation: lime + strawberry = strawberry margarita. The possibilities are endless. Creating sour flavors are another option; either by adding a liquid flavor enhancer, such as Tart & Sour or by coating the finished candy in a mixture of sugar and citric acid granules for real pucker power.

7. Presentation is Key

Now that your candy is made, it’s time to package your bounty to look as good as it tastes! Lollipops can be wrapped in sucker bags and secured with a twist tie or ribbon. Piece candy can be packaged in decorative boxes or tins or unexpected containers like mason jars or Chinese take-out containers adorned with decorative ribbon. Add a pretty label to display the candy flavor for a special touch. For storage, keep hard candy at room temperature, in a dry place – never in the refrigerator. Properly kept, candy should last for weeks.