Recipe: Old-Fashioned Lollipops
Lollipops... the last stop in a recent series of candy recipes including Taffy, Fudge, Poured Fondant and Fruit-Flavored Candy Popcorn.
Lollipops are a fitting end to the sucrose-centric run because they feature Sugar pushed to its limits - the Hard-Crack Stage. Topping out at around 310 degrees Fahrenheit (154 degrees Celsius), at these temperatures, nearly all of the water content in a molten Sugar mixture evaporates. What remains is a super-concentration which, when cooled, sets into an extremely hard and brittle product. Were the Sugar heated any higher, it would begin to transform into Caramel.
This Lollipop recipe comes with several variations: straight-up sweet, outright sour and downright creamy. That means you can easily mix and match until your sweet-tooth's content.
To repeat the warnings from all of the candy-making recipes that have led up to this point, good preparation is critical! There's no time to go hunting for tools or ingredients once you've started cooking Sugar.
In term of ingredients, Lollipops are very simple. Sugar, Corn Syrup and Water are combined in a large pot and heated. Sugar is the base for the Lollipops (shocker!) while Corn Syrup acts as an inhibitor against recrystallization (for more on preventing recrystallization, check these tips).
The Flavoring (e.g. Extracts, Oils or Powders) and Food Coloring / Gel are initially held back, added to the Sugar mixture only after it has reached temperature. If the Flavoring were added at the beginning of the cooking process, it could burn off or the taste could be altered given prolonged exposure to intense heat. Some Food Coloring / Gel is also affected by prolonged heat exposure.
Sugar-Free Kool-Aid Powder is a very effective Flavoring; however, it should not be added to the hot Sugar mixture in powder form. Mix any Flavoring Powders with a couple teaspoons of Water to create a syrup, which will be easier to incorporate.
There are two, simple modifications to this recipe that can be used with any flavor Lollipop:
- To make sour Lollipops, add Citric Acid to the Sugar mixture. Citric Acid is a very common food additive that intensifies sour flavors. The acid also helps to prevent recrystallization as it breaks down Sucrose (a form of Sugar that will recrystallize) into Glucose and Fructose (forms of Sugar that will not recrystallize).
- To make creamy Lollipops, add Butter, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract. These ingredients make for a smoother and richer tasting Lollipop. The Butter and Corn Starch also act as inhibitors against recrystallization. In terms of appearance, these creamy Lollipops will be opaque.
Regarding tools, Lollipops require several special items: Lollipop molds, Lollipop sticks and cellophane wrappers. These items are readily available online or in most large home goods and craft stores.
Lollipop molds are typically made from smooth, heat resistant plastic. However, for the home cook with a well equipped kitchen, you can also use any silicone baking mold that you may have, but make sure that these molds are clean and free of debris before using them to make Lollipops.
Special Lollipop molds are designed with the Lollipop stick in mind. If you are using silicone molds, you may need to be creative. I was able to make a very effective Lollipop stick holder with a small piece of cardboard, punching holes to line up with my silicone mold. Simple problem... simple solution!
The cooking process for Lollipops is extremely straight forward, particularly if you have tried any of the previous candy recipes.
Combine the Sugar, Corn Syrup and Water in a large pot (also add the Citric Acid for sour Lollipops or the Butter, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract for creamy Lollipops).
Heat the Sugar mixture to a boil and then stop stirring. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue boiling the Sugar mixture until it reaches the Hard-Crack Stage. As soon as the target temperature is reached, remove the pot from the heat. Quickly but gently stir in the Flavoring and Food Coloring / Gel using a wooden skewer (one of the extra Lollipop sticks will work). Be careful when adding these ingredients to the hot Sugar mixture as they will steam and bubble.
Once the Flavoring and Food Coloring / Gel are well combined and any bubbling has stopped, carefully pour the Lollipop mixture into the Lollipop molds. Do not fill the molds all the way to the top as the Lollipop stick will displace some of the Lollipop mixture when inserted. Work fast (but carefully!) as the Lollipop mixture will harden quickly once it is removed from the heat.
If the Lollipop mixture hardens before you have filled all of the molds, it can be gently heated once or twice over medium heat to softened; however, eventually it will need to be discarded.
When the Lollipop molds are filled, place a Lollipop stick in each mold. Making a Lollipop stick holder out of cardboard, as mention above, ensures that each stick will remain upright as the Lollipops cool and set.
Special Lollipop molds will likely have a design feature to incorporate the Lollipop sticks. Some molds are designed to have the Lollipop sticks in place before they are filled with the hot Lollipop mixture.
As soon as the Lollipop molds are filled and the sticks are in place, set them aside to cool and set. The time required will vary based on the mold that is used, but it should take no longer than an hour. If the Lollipop molds were clean and dry, then the Lollipops should be easy to pop out.
Depending on the design of your molds, you can easily make one Lollipop with two or more flavors. Partially fill the mold with one flavor and then fill it up with another flavor.
Immediately wrap the Lollipops in Cellophane wrappers and tie them shut. The Lollipops will keep well for up to a month when sealed airtight in the wrappers. The Lollipops may become sticky with time in higher humidity environments.
- The Recipe -
Yield: About 550g - Eighteen 1oz Lollipops (yield will vary based on the molds used)
*Note on ingredients:
- Sugar: 400g (2.0 Cups)
- Corn Syrup: 120g (0.5 Cup)
- Water: 120g (0.5 Cup)
- Flavoring*: 4g - 6g (1.0 - 1.5 Tsp)
- Food Coloring / Gel*: To Sight
- Butter: 55g (0.25 Cup / 0.5 Stick)
- Corn Starch: 32g (0.25 Cup)
- Vanilla Extract: 8g (2 Tsp)
- Citric Acid: 5g (1 Tsp)
*Note on ingredients:
- Kool-Aid is a great option for concentrated fruit flavoring, but there are a number of other commercially available powders that will also work well. Make sure to use sugar-free powders. Flavor intensity varies by product, so some experimentation may be necessary, but 4g - 6g (1.0 - 1.5 Tsp) should be appropriate for most products.
- Extracts and Oils can also be used to flavor the Lollipops. Again, flavor intensity varies by product, but 4g - 6g (1.0 - 1.5 Tsp) should be appropriate for most products.
- Food Coloring / Gel can be added to the mixture to intensify the color, but it is not required.
- To make creamy flavors, add Butter, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract to the recipe. For sour flavors, add Citric Acid. Using both sets of additional ingredients is not recommended.
1. Before you begin, prepare all ingredients and supplies. You will not have time to make additional preparations once the Sugar mixture is boiling.
Clean and dry the Lollipop molds. Also have Lollipop sticks and cellophane wrappers on hand.
When using a powdered Flavoring, combine it with a little Water (1 - 2 Tsp) to make a liquid. Set it aside with the Food Coloring / Gel.
2. Combine the Sugar, Corn Syrup and Water in a large pot and stir to combine. Optionally, add the Citric Acid for sour Lollipops or Butter, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract for creamy Lollipops. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
3. Once the Sugar mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to medium high and continue cooking without stirring until it reaches the Hard-Crack Stage at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius).
Chef's Note: It is important to stop stirring once the Sugar mixture begins to boil to prevent recrystallization. Reducing the heat will slow the rate at which temperature of the Sugar mixture rises, reducing the risk of over-cooking.
4. As soon as the target temperature is reached, remove the pot from the heat. Add the Flavoring and Food Coloring to the Sugar mixture and gently stir with a wooden skewer until it is well combined. Do not over-stir the mixture at the risk of triggering recrystallization.
Chef's Note: Be careful when adding the Flavoring and Food Coloring / Gel to the hot Sugar mixture as the water content will quickly bubble and steam.
5. Once the Lollipop mixture has stopped bubbling, pour it into the prepared molds. Place a Lollipop stick into each mold before the Lollipop mixture hardens. Set the molds aside to cool and set. Do not refrigerate.
Chef's Note: If the Lollipop mixture begins to set before you have filled all of the molds, it can be gently reheated over medium heat once or twice. Eventually the Lollipop mixture will fully set and need to be discarded.
6. Once the Lollipops have completely cooled, remove them from the molds and individually wrap them in cellophane wrappers.
- The individually wrapped Lollipops will keep for up to a month when stored at room temperature. The Lollipops may become sticky over time in higher humidity environments.