A Handmade Holiday 2008 – Part 1

Posted by Liz McCoy Monday, December 1, 2008

We are all trying to save $$ this holiday season.  Even within my family we’re hand making, buying used, or not giving anything to each other for the holidays.  We are all just excited to be able to spend time together as a family and everyone will be there.

One of the projects we’d done in the past was make homemade hard candy.  My sister Rosie had said she’d like to do it again this year. I jumped onto that band wagon too as I wanted to make my gifts too.  She oversaw the purchasing of the ingredients (with coupons) and then we ordered the flavoring from GetSuckered.com through Amazon.com (because it was cheaper).  We decided on Cinnamon and Peppermint flavors.

Here is the recipe we used:

  • confectioners' sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon oil or peppermint oil (We found that 2 1/2 tsp was more flavorful but not too strong.)
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (we used the Wilton icing colors concentrated paste – which required much LESS coloring than a traditional liquid food coloring)
  • A candy thermometer


  1. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle the foil very generously with confectioners' sugar.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the white sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, and boil until a candy thermometer reads 300 to 310 degrees F (149 to 154 degrees C). Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the cinnamon oil and food coloring. Pour onto the prepared foil, and allow to cool and harden. Crack into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

We gathered our ingredients


Lined our baking sheets with foil and covered generously with confectioners’ sugar (this was rosie’s job)


Measured our sugar, light corn syrup, and water. (this was rosie’s job)  **Tip – we found that if you put the syrup & water in first then the sugar on top it is easier to stir together.


Stir CONTINUOUSLY on medium – high (#7 on my stove) until the mixture begins to boil. (this was my job)


Once the mixture begins to boil you STOP stirring and let it boil and cook until your thermometer reads 300 degrees. That is when you get your flavoring oils and food coloring ready. (rosie’s job)


Continue to watch the mixture boil until you see it reach the Hard Crack stage which is 302 degrees+ once it hits hard crack stage remove it immediately from the heat and begin to stir in your coloring and flavor. (my job)
***WARNING*** this mixture is 300+ degrees when you pour in the flavoring and coloring it will begin to steam up. See all that steam in the picture???? MOVE YOUR HEAD!  The Cinnamon/Pepperment flavoring will get VERY intense and shoot right up your nostrils and into your eyes.  I don’t recommend the hot cinnamon steam facial.


Once you’ve completely stirred in the coloring and flavor you are ready to pour your mixture onto your foil and powdered lined baking sheet. (You’ll notice the pot is different. We didn’t get a pouring shot of our first batch of red) (my job)


Then you let it sit and cool.  This is when you can start your next batch or take a lunch break or a rest on the chair.


Once the candy is hardened you’re ready to crack it.  We found the best method was to first crack it into large pieces then put it in to a ziploc bag. Then pour it all into a strainer, pull out the bigger pieces and put them back into the ziploc bag.  Use a small hammer and whack it into pieces that would fit in someones mouth.


Once you’ve cracked the candy pull out the good pieces and put them in the gift containers.


In your ziploc bag you’ll have little bits that are too small to give away and you’ll have powdered sugar. Pour that back into your strainer and separate the little bits from the powdered sugar.


The little bits you can have to treat yourself or put in your coffee/tea for a flavored sugar.  Don’t toss the powdered sugar TASTE it!! YUMMY the powdered sugar has now been flavored with whatever flavoring you used. You can add this to a sugar cookie or to top a muffin or cake.  Very tasty.

And that is part one of our Handmade Holiday 2008.  Tomorrow look out for how to cleverly decorate chinese food boxes.

Handmade Holiday Craft Series

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