So many of the lollipops sold today look better than they taste. Is it my aging taste buds, or do they actually have less flavor these days?
Granted, there are exceptions, but the bright red heart-shaped lollipop I couldn’t resist at the supermarket checkout counter recently wasn’t one of them. I found that with a little research and a couple of kitchen trials, I could produce suckers that were much more satisfying.
If you want to try making lollipops and don’t have the following items on hand, they’ll cost you about $8 at a cooking store that stocks candy-making supplies:
* Lollipop sticks.
* Candy flavoring oil (the high temperature of the syrup causes alcohol-based flavorings like vanilla to evaporate).
* Citric acid (adds a bit of tartness that enhances fruit flavors).
To make free-form lollipops, you’ll also need sugar, corn syrup and food coloring. To make molded suckers, get some plastic lollipop molds, which cost $2 to $3. They come in many shapes. Just be certain to buy the kind designed for hot syrup and brush them lightly with oil before using.
You can even make your own molds by a method shown in “The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook” (Hearst Corp., 1989). Cut the bottoms off paper hot drink cups about 1 inch from the rims. Put the resulting rings on an oiled baking sheet, rim side down. Then make a V-shaped opening down to, but not through, the rim for inserting the stick. These molds should also be oiled.
For additional flavor, place small cinnamon and other hard candies inside the molds before adding the hot syrup. Our Valentine’s Day variation uses red-hots and conversation hearts. We had success putting candies in the plastic molds and also pressing them into free-form suckers while the syrup was still soft.
You need to be able to work quickly with the hot syrup, so prepare the baking sheets and/or molds and arrange the lollipop sticks ahead of time. If the syrup becomes too stiff, rewarm it over low heat.
Once cool and hardened, lollipops need to be enclosed in plastic wrap or small cellophane bags, available at the same stores where you get the other supplies, or they’ll get sticky. Twist the covering around the stick or add a bright colored tie to keep out moisture.
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon candy flavoring oil of choice
Food color of choice
Small cinnamon candies, optional