I was always one of those people who craved salt growing up: chips, sunflower seeds, and whatnot. A few years ago, a switch flipped, turning me into a sugar junkie. Be forewarned- I made these lollipops as wedding favors and haven’t stopped making them since.
There is something so pure about straight up melted sugar molded into the shape of your choice. For the wedding, we had mustaches, lips, skulls and Jolly Rogers. No, not your typical “wedding” style, but it worked for us. Since then, I have added howling wolfs, monkeys, guitars and a whole slew of other random things to my lollipop mold collection. These were a great, super-duper cheap addition to the candy favor table, but they are also perfect for party favors or a daily addiction.
*** DIY Bride note- I will return to the list making and detail planning next week. Sorry all, life took a turn for the hectic this week and I wasn’t able to put together what I wanted to have for you all. Promise, I will continue that part of this series next Friday!***
Lollipop molds – this shop is my absolute favorite. They have the best selection for the best prices. Don’t get the Wilton molds that they sell at Michael’s and other craft stores. Those may work for candy and chocolate making, but the boiling sugar water will melt them on first use. Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way, and repeatedly, because I am persistent in my stupidity.
Corn syrup- they keep it by the pancake stuff at the grocery store. This may seem obvious, but I looked around FOREVER.
Candy thermometer- these are super cheap but kind of a pain to find. I’ve had better luck finding them at the grocery store than anywhere else, strangely enough
Pot with pour spout, if possible- I got this little pot in the BBQ section of Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s supposed to be for cooking beans on the grill or something, but it is perfect for pouring molten sugar. If this is not attainable, boil in a regular pot, then transfer to a spouted heat proof bowl when cooking is complete. Pouring directly from the pot it was boiled in makes it possible to get the most suckers because transferring it to another bowl causes the mixture to cool and harden more quickly.
Candy flavoring, if desired – make sure whatever flavoring you get is clear, otherwise your lollipops will turn out dark brown, just an FYI.
Sorry to any acrophobics in the audience. That is one of husband’s black widow sculptures in the corner. When he was making these, he actually kept black widows to study so the sculptures would be as realistic as possible. That was a horrifying time in my life.
Lay down a long sheet of tin foil on the counter and place your molds on top. Spray the molds lightly with the non-stick spray, covering completely but not soaking them so there is pooling. Place lollipop sticks in slots in molds.
Take 2 cups of sugar, 2/3 cup of corn syrup, and 3/4 cup of water and dump them into the pot. Add whatever color food coloring you’d like. Stir it up until the food coloring is all mixed in. Place candy thermometer in the pot.
Turn on your burner to high. Do not walk away from the stove while they are coming to a boil. Should you not be paying attention, you may wind up with overflowing boiling hot sugar water all over your stove that borders on impossible to get off. Not that I’d know, but I hear it happened to a friend, or something like that. Yeah, that’s it.
Once it comes to a boil, it will bubble up really quickly. Turn it down to a low heat until it chills out a little bit. You can gradually increase the heat back up if you are impatient (I am), but go slowly to minimize the risk of mess.
There are varying opinions on what the best temperature is to cook these to. I prefer to cook them to the Soft Crack level, which is 250 degrees, because I like the consistency, they stay a teeny bit chewy. However, they maintain their shape better if you let it cook to 255-260 degrees, so that is what I’d suggest. Make sure to keep a close eye on the thermometer because the consistency of the final lollipop changes greatly with very little change in final temperature. Husband explained the science of the whole thing to me, but he did it while I was pouring bubbling, molten mix into little plastic molds so I didn’t retain a lot of the information.
When the mixture hits the proper temperature, remove the thermometer and turn off the burner. If you want to add flavoring, now is the time. Mix it in quickly. You don’t have to rush, but you don’t want to dawdle at this point, either. The sooner you get the mix into the molds, the more of it will be usable.
Begin pouring into the molds. Don’t worry if the mix is still bubbling, the good molds can take it. Start slowly, watching carefully to prevent overfilling the molds. Don’t worry about dragging a little stream across the mold as you move from space to space. When it hardens, these are easy to clean off.
When the mixture is gone, leave the molds to set and put the pot to soak. If you fill it with soapy water, the sticky mess will totally disappear. Let the molds set for about 20 minutes. Once they are hard, flip them over and press gently on the back of the molds to release the suckers.
Your lollipops are ready to be devoured! We put the finished lollipops in little plastic treat bags and tied them off with colored tape in our wedding colors. We made the suckers in teal and orange as well. They were a hit, and multiple people have requested more in the months since.
Happy candy making!!!
Tune in next week for the continuation of the planning posts. More handy tips to be had by all!