What better gift to give this holiday season than one that can be eaten? Of course the traditional fruitcake has its place among the festivities. And in my opinion, that place happens to be nowhere.
Fruitcake aficionados, please do disagree with me. But while I’m all for efficiency, I’ve never understood the allure of a confection that does double duty as a paperweight-slash-doorstop. That’s why I turn to classic homemade candy as the ultimate edible gift for giving or receiving.
These crystal clear lollipops are made with just two ingredients, leaving the door wide open for customization when it comes to the colorful add-ins. I’ve opted for seasonal sprinkles, but you could also decorate them with crushed candy canes, chopped nuts or dried cranberries. And don’t forget to stir in your favorite flavorings, such as cherry or strawberry extract.
Are you ready to give the gift of good taste this season? Tie together a bundle of these easy-to-make homemade lollipops, or opt for individually-wrapped Salted Caramels, Hot Chocolate Stir Sticks or a tin of Chocolate-Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread.
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Homemade Holiday Lollipops
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 7 min
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 disolved. 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.
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 spot.
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.
Recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com.