Kitchen Witch - Homemade Lollipops

When suckers were good

Before the amazing, revolutionizing automated-teller machine, America went to the bank to do its business. Every week, like clockwork — for deposits AND withdrawals we'd walk or drive to the neighborhood branch, queue up with our neighbors and wait our turn to hand over our bank books to the nice teller. It was a time-consuming but necessary ritual, like church or food shopping.

There were no flat-screen television screens to entertain us while we waited. But if we were good, there were lollipops.

I'm seeing lime green, the lolly color most frequently bestowed upon me when I'd accompany my father in his Ford Grenada through the drive-thru lane of the Fidelity Bank. He'd pull his car up to the window, chitchat with the teller (always a woman), and I'd wait eagerly for my treat on a stick, usually tucked into Dad's envelope of green bills. I immediately tore at the wrapper, waved goodbye to the nice teller and sucked on my lollipop, twirling the stick or using it as a looking glass, observing the world through my candy-coated lens.

Homemade Lollipops

Adapted from The Ultimate Candy Book by Bruce Weinstein

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon flavoring (see note on flavors at right)

4 drops food coloring

Nonstick oil spray

Candy thermometer

Lollipop sticks, bags and ties

Silicone baking mat — highly recommended; alternative: an oiled baking sheet lined with oiled parchment paper

Heat-resistant rubber spatula

Heat-resistant glass measuring cup with spout (such as Pyrex)

In an enamel-lined or nonstick 1- or 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar. With rubber spatula, stir over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup comes to a boil.

Prepare measuring cup, spraying interior with nonstick spray. Clip candy thermometer to inside of pan and cook syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage). This will take up to 30 minutes.

Immediately remove pan from heat and allow syrup to cool to 270 degrees. Stir in flavoring and food coloring.

Pour candy into measuring cup and then pour 2-inch circles/puddles onto prepared work surface, leaving at least 4 inches between each candy puddle.

Lay sticks onto candy circles so the tip of each stick lies at the center of its own circle. Work quickly, as syrup cools quickly and becomes thick. Pour additional syrup over the circles, so as to "lock" the sticks into place. Don't worry if syrup spreads. Allow lollipops to cool completely before peeling them off.

Wrap lollipops in bags or in wax paper. Store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

Note on flavors: Look for natural flavorings or edible oils in the supermarket baking aisle or in cookware stores such as Sur La Table. I found maple, ginger, tangerine, walnut, banana and cinnamon, to name a few. For a combination of flavors (e.g., banana walnut), use 1/2 teaspoon of each.

Final note: Attention! A sugar solution at 300 degrees is nothing to joke about. If kids are joining you in the project, let them observe from a distance until time to place sticks.

Recommended resource: Kitchen Krafts (www.kitchenkrafts.com) sells a variety of candy-making tools and supplies.

Culinary questions? Contact Kim O'Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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