I have always enjoyed hard candy and I have seldom been able to make any that pleased me. The primary problem is one of flavoring, for only concentrated flavoring agents will work well. This morning while researching proper ways to remove chocolate candy from plastic molds I happened to see a simple recipe for hard candy that contained one very important piece of information. Specifically, the flavoring concentrates and food coloring, if used, are not introduced until the candy is done cooking but still very hot and syrupy.
I decided to put this recipe into Food Nirvana knowing that I will be buying the temperature resistant types of molds, primarily silicon molds, used for hard candy. And I have been wanting to make root beer barrels using the root beer concentrate used at home to make root beer as the flavoring agent. I will report back with results as usual, and likely I will have some recommendations for where to get candy flavoring concentrates inexpensively.
Let's experiment and have some fun ... There are many varieties of flavors and compositions to try. I am sure my grandchildren will be happy to critique my results, and who could be a better judge than children who love candy? Adults? Maybe. We'll see.
Ingredients: (Note the small quantity of ingredients. You don't need much when making little pieces of hard candy.)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of hot water
1/3 cup of light corn syrup
Liquid food color as desired
Liquid flavoring as desired (candy flavoring works best)
Spray candy molds with vegetable oil spray, like Pam®.
Combine the sugar, hot water and corn syrup in a one quart heavy bottom saucepan.
Cook over medium-high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
Wash down the inside of the saucepan, to prevent the candy from crystallizing, with a pastry brush dipped in hot water,.
Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and continue cooking.
Wash down the inside of the saucepan with the pastry brush once or twice more if necessary.
When the thermometer registers 300° F, carefully remove the pan from the heat.
The cooking time to accomplish the above steps is approximately 10 minutes.
Let the candy set until the bubbles disappear (approximately 2 minutes).
Add the flavoring (1/2 tsp. regular liquid flavoring or just a few drops of candy flavoring) and liquid food color if desired.
Use a candy funnel or pour the candy into prepared molds and add sucker sticks if needed.
Let the candy harden for about 10 minutes.
When it is hardened, unmold it by inverting the mold(s) onto wax paper.
Let the candy cool completely.
If the weather is humid, wrap the cooled candies in sucker bags immediately.
You have various other options, like dusting the candy with powdered sugar and storing it between small sheets of waxed paper in moisture proof small candy tins.