I forgot to post this last year with time sneaking up on me quickly as I was working on gift baskets. These where a huge hit and they are easy to make. An added bonus is hearing kids say “OMG you know how to make lollipops”. You can make them without sticks and any shape or size you want. To keep from getting frustrated I suggest pouring the hot mixture in a measuring cup and then reheat when needed. You can tell because it hardens quickly and you’ll get a bunch of strings (kind of like working with a glue gun). Don’t wait too long if you are adding candies, because it will cool quickly.
Homemade Holiday Lollipops
(Adapted from Just a Taste)
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons flavored extract, such as mint or vanilla (optional; See Kelly's Notes)
Assorted sprinkles or candy
Special equipment: candy thermometer
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper of Silpat baking mats. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the interior of the saucepan.
Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mix to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Using a small pastry brush dipped in water, wash down the sides of the saucepan to prevent crystals from forming.
Boil the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes until it reaches 310ºF (hard-crack stage) on the candy thermometer.
Immediately transfer the saucepan to the bowl of ice water, carefully submerging the sides but ensuring no water seeps into it. Swirl the pan for 10 to 15 seconds to help the mixture cool then remove the saucepan from the bowl of ice water. If you're using an extract, carefully swirl it into the mixture immediately after you remove the saucepan from the ice bath.
Working quickly, pour the syrup onto the baking sheets to form circles that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. (Space the lollipops 3 to 4 inches apart to guarantee they don't run into each other.) Immediately press in the lollipop sticks and sprinkle the lollipops with your sprinkles or candy, lightly pressing the garnishes into the syrup. Let cool completely until fully hardened then carefully peel the lollipops off the baking sheet. (I poured my mixture into a measuring cup to make it more controllable to pour. Once it started to get too difficult to pour I popped it in the microwave long enough to get it back to a liquid state.)
Opt for an extract that is clear in color in order to maintain the crystal clear color of the lollipops.
It's much easier to cleanly pour the syrup onto the baking sheet if you use a saucepan with a pour spout.
Work quickly as soon as you remove the syrup from the stove, as it'll harden very quickly. If the syrup gets too hard, re-warm it over medium heat until it softens slightly.