Lollipops are very quick and easy to make. They do require some special equipment, namely molds of some kind. But once you have your molds, you can make a batch in just a few minutes. They make great gifts and there are so many different molds and flavorings out there, the possibilities are endless!
My preferred mold type are metal lollipop rings. They come in a wide variety of shapes and are very easy to use and clean. I get them from Sugarcraft. This time I used the traditional circle, but I have molds for hearts, animals, flowers, and cars.
In addition to molds, you also will need a candy thermometer. I like the ones that clip onto the pan. This is the one that I have, and after trying at least a dozen, it is by far the best. You also need to consider flavorings. You can't just use any old flavoring in hard candy. Regular old extracts are not appropriate. You need to use flavoring oils specifically made for hard candy, such as those produced by LorAnn brand. They have a huge assortment of flavorings available online or in many grocery stores. My favorites are root beer, lemon, and orange, but there are probably over two dozen flavors available!
Before starting your lollipops, be sure to have your molds set up and ready to go. I lay them out on a parchment lined sheet pan. I do not oil the sheet or the molds. I find this leaves an undesirable coating on the lollipops. I do not have trouble with the candy sticking to the metal ring type molds, but I do not have any experience with other mold types.
To make lollipops, set up a heavy sauce pan with a thermometer. Stir together in the pan the sugar, water, and corn syrup (which helps to prevent undesirable sugar crystal formation). Heat over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 300 degrees F. You do not need to stir. Remove immediately from the heat when it reaches 300 degrees. Let the mixture cool to 275 degrees before adding the flavoring, coloring, or any other additives. Pour into prepared molds immediately, as it starts to firm up right away! If you have extra, you can pour that onto the pan around the molds to snack on after it cools.
Do not unmold the lollipops until they are completely cool. One of my first times making these, I unmolded them as soon as they were cool enough to handle. Unfortunately, the candy was still warm enough that without their mold holding their shape, they oozed horribly. It was somewhat disturbing...
Once they are cooled and unmolded, I prepare them for packaging. I use the small treat bags sold by Wilton and similar companies and tie them with pretty ribbon. I use confectioner's sugar to keep the suckers from sticking to the bags. I fill a jar about half full of powdered sugar and have a dry pastry brush handy. I dip the suckers into the sugar to be sure all surfaces are covered. I then use the brush to remove excess sugar. Be careful not to touch the lollipops as you will never get your fingerprints off of them! Don't worry if they look slightly lackluster as you bag them, they will clean themselves up in the bag as they sit. Store in a cool, dry place.
Old Fashioned Lollipops
Yield: enough for 10-12 average sized molds
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/8 to 1/2 tsp flavoring oil
food coloring (optional)
1/8 tsp citric acid (optional, provides tartness)
Heat the sugar, corn syrup, and water together in a heavy sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer. Heat to 300 degrees F over medium-high heat (takes about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat. Let mixture cool to 275 degrees F before adding flavorings and colorings. Be careful when adding these mix-ins, as the candy will bubble and steam violently. A wooden spoon is best as it does not conduct the heat to your hands. 300 degree F sugar will burn the living heck out of you, so be very careful. Pour quickly into molds and let cool completely.
Here are the guidelines I use for some of my favorite flavors:
- Root beer - 1/2 tsp flavoring, no coloring needed
- Lemon - 1/4 tsp flavoring, 5 drops color
- Sour Lemon - 1/4 tsp flavoring, 5 drops color, 1/8 tsp citric acid