|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
Lollipops are an old-fashioned favorite, and, sure, it's easy to buy them in the store, but it is even more fun to make them at home. The best part about making your own lollipops is that you can completely customize them—choose your favorite flavorings and create combinations that appeal to you and your family and friends. Coconut-lime? You got it! Spicy Pineapple Mint? Sounds delicious! Once you master the basic recipe, you'll love crafting new combos and experimenting with your own lollipops.
You do need a few pieces of inexpensive equipment to start, such as a candy thermometer and a lollipop mold, both of which can be found for a few dollars at cake and candy supply stores, many craft stores, or online. You'll also want lollipop sticks, flavoring extracts (it could be simple vanilla or a variety of exotic flavors), and perhaps food coloring.
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare your lollipop molds by spraying them lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Wipe out the inside with a paper towel, so that only the thinnest layer of oil remains.
Insert the lollipop sticks into the molds.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Stir until the sugar dissolves, then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
Once boiling, insert a candy thermometer. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until candy reaches 300 F (149 C). This is called the hard-crack stage.
Remove saucepan from heat. Allow it to sit until it stops bubbling completely. Stir in the extract of your choice, and, if desired, food coloring.
Spoon the candy into the mold cavities, making sure to cover the back of the stick.
Allow to cool completely and remove once hardened.
Stages of Candy Making
If you have never made candy, it is important to understand the stages of candy making before you start. There are six stages: thread, soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack, and hard crack, and each stage happens at a different temperature. Thus, using a candy thermometer is crucial (and if you have owned the candy thermometer for some time, you should test it to make sure it is still accurate). You can also do a test by dropping a spoonful of the syrup into a bowl of cold water—if it has reached the hard-crack stage it will form brittle threads in the water and crack once you remove and try to bend it.
Tips and Variations
You may not realize it, but the weather actually has an effect on candy making. Sugar attracts water, so humidity can make it nearly impossible to reach the hard-crack stage and ruin an otherwise perfectly good lollipop. So even though a rainy day is perfect for a project in the kitchen, it is not ideal when making candy.
Before you begin, it is best that you have all of your equipment at hand. In addition to the molds and sticks, you will also need a straight-sided saucepan with a heavy bottom, a wooden spoon with a long handle, and a pastry brush. You will also save yourself some hassle (as well as possible skin burns) if your candy thermometer has a clamp to secure it to the side of the saucepan.
You can obviously vary the flavor of these lollipops by changing the type or types of extracts. Alter the colors with the flavors so they are easy to decipher from each other. And feel free to try out some interesting flavor combinations—just be sure to taste the mixture before you make a whole batch. If you find yourself enjoying the lollipop-making process, there are plenty of other recipes to try, from salted caramel to cinnamon hearts.