Hard rock candy is a Christmas treat that we used to make often when I was younger, but we haven't had it in a few years. This year when I heard my mom would be making it, I drove back to my home town for the weekend to see the process in action. I had a vague idea of what to do, but I wanted to see it done by a pro ;-)
Hard candy seems a bit intimidating, but it was actually pretty quick and easy. My mom easily made three batches in three different flavors (cinnamon, wintergreen, and root beer) in less than two hours.
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup light karo syrup
1 cup water
one or two .125 oz bottles of candy flavoring oil - your choice! We love cinnamon and wintergreen for Christmas
powdered sugar for dusting pans
medium pot or sauce pan
Begin by sprinkling a thick layer of powdered sugar on two fairly large baking sheets. You may want to underline the pans with foil and create a lip around the sides if your sheets don't already have a lip, to keep the sugar and liquid candy contained. Set aside.
Pour the sugar, syrup, and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
You will want your candy thermometer in place, watching for the temperature to reach 310 degrees F for hard crack stage. This is very important! While there are other ways to test for hard crack stage other than temperature , the thermometer is just easier and more reliable.
Stir the mixture often to make sure sugar is melting and not collecting/burning at the bottom of the pot.
Once the hard crack stage has been reached, add your food coloring and flavoring oil to the pot and stir well to spread the coloring and flavor evenly.
Bring your pot over to the powder sugared baking sheets, and drizzle over the sugar. Allow to set for at least half an hour to make sure the candy has set and hardened completely.
Break candy into edible-sized pieces by hand, or place the large pieces of candy in a paper bag and drop to break the pieces.
Store in an airtight container for freshness - this candy can last a while, if you don't eat it all too quickly!
Flavor and coloring tips:
- Cinnamon - 1 or 2 full bottles for 1 whole batch; 1 tsp of red food coloring for color
- Wintergreen - 1 or 2 full bottles of wintergreen flavor, with 1/2 - 1 tsp green food coloring
- Root Beer - 1 full bottle of root beer flavor oil, with 2 drops of yellow and 1 drop of orange food coloring
- Peppermint - 1 - 1.5 bottles of flavor oil. You could leave the candy clear, or color it red or green
Other winter seasonal flavor and color ideas:
- Maple flavor oil, colored with red and yellow
- Marshmallow flavor oil, left clear
- Spearmint, colored green
- Vanilla, colored yellow or left clear
- Orange, colored orange
Is Hard Rock Candy a recipe you've tried, or is a tradition in your family? What flavors have you tried, and which are your favorite?