This Holiday Hard Candy Recipe is a fun, easy way to add a little variety to your food gifts this Christmas. And when I say it’s easy, I mean it: if you can boil water and read a thermometer you can make these holiday hard candies!
I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for something different to add to the tins and boxes of Christmas goodies I mail or hand out this time of year.
Sure, I still make cookies and other baked treats, too. But now and then it’s nice to add something no one else is making.
This year, I’ve decided this Holiday Hard Candy Recipe is my “something different” and the response has been wonderful!
Where I live, neighbors routinely exchange baskets of cookies, fruitcakes, and other goodies, all duly carried from one home to the next by kids who find the whole process a bit silly. As my son once put it, “So, you bake dozens of cookies and send them next door while she bakes dozens and sends hers over here? Why not just eat what you baked?”
This year, he puffed up with pride as he carried our gifts to neighboring homes. On top of the usual pile of cookies and fudge, I’d added bags of these Holiday Hard Candies. I love how their vivid colors sparkle and pop like sweet little gems.
The neighborhood kids are now calling me The Candy Lady, which is considerably better than being known as the grumpy woman who just wishes they’d stay off of her lawn. (Though I’m that lady, too.)
So, if you’re looking for a beautiful, sweet treat to share over the holidays then look no further than this super easy recipe. (Or keep them all to yourself. I won’t tell.)
Holiday Hard Candy Recipe
This post contains links to products on Amazon.com that I used. I am an Amazon affiliate.
As far as flavoring, you can use any food grade essential oil. I went with these Lorann Oils Fruit Flavors and chose cherry (for the red candies) and apple (for the green). Note that oils and extracts aren’t the same thing: you want oils. Food grade oils, too, not the stuff you put in your diffuser.
Incidentally, if your kids have been driving you nuts and you want to play a joke on them you could use black food coloring — or mix equal parts of blue, red, and green — and tell them Santa left them charcoal.
Anyway, before you print the recipe below, here’s a visual walkthrough so you can see how easy this Holiday Hard Candy Recipe is to make!
1. Line a baking pan with foil then coat it with oil or cooking spray. Tip: I find it easiest to turn the pan over and shape the foil around it. When you put the pan right-side-up the foil slips right in.
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally and bring it to a boil.
And, no, light corn syrup is not the same thing as high-fructose corn syrup (a/k/a HFCS) so please don’t get all cray-cray in the comments!
3. When the mixture starts boiling, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Take care that the bulb on the bottom of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan or you won’t get an accurate reading.
4. Continue cooking, stirring on occasion, until the temperature reaches 300°F (known as the “hard-crack stage.”)
5. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Take out the thermometer. Stir in your chosen flavor and coloring. Pour into the foil-lined pan.
6. Wait 10 minutes for the candy mixture to begin cooling. It’s okay if you see a little foam — this will disappear as the mixture cools.
7. The candy is going to cool from the top down. To make it into pieces, you need to score it into 1/2-inch squares layer by layer using the edge of a spatula or butter knife. This is NOT a one-time thing, so don’t press all the way down. If the line doesn’t hold give it another minute or two and try again.
8. Retrace your lines repeatedly, pressing a little deeper every time, until you reach the bottom of the pan. (If the candy hardens too much before you finish cutting you can soften it by filling a sink with 1 inch of very hot water and setting the pan in it for a minute.)
9. Once you’ve finished scoring, lift the candy out of the pan using the edges of the foil and let it cool completely on the counter.
10. Break the candy into squares and dust them with powdered sugar so they don’t stick together. That’s it!
Serves: 1 lb
- 2¼ cups granulated white sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup (note: light, not lite!)
- ½ cup room temperature water
- ¼ tsp. food grade flavored oil (I used cherry and apple)
- Food coloring
- Powdered sugar (about ½ cup)
- Line an 8x8x2 inch pan with foil. Use oil or cooking spray to grease it.
- Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
- Clip candy thermometer onto edge of pan taking care the bulb doesn't touch the bottom of the pan. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 300°F (hard crack stage).
- Immediately remove from heat. Take the thermometer out. Stir in flavoring and food coloring.
- Pour candy mixture into prepared pan and wait 10 minutes.
- Using the edge of a spatula or butter knife, score the candy into ½ inch squares, pressing gently. This is not a one-time process: you'll need to retrace your lines several times, pressing down a bit harder each time, until you've reached the bottom. If the lines don't hold shape, wait a few minutes and try again.
- Once you're able to reach the bottom of the pan and the squares hold their shape, lift the candy out of the pan using the foil and allow it to cool completely. Break into squares.
- Dusting in powdered sugar is optional, but the candy is likely to stick together if you skip this step.