In preparation for the fat/sugar/alcohol overload I'm about to embark on over Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share a fat/sugar packed recipe for fabulous Salted Caramel Lollipops. (Sadly lacking the alcohol, but that shouldn't dissuade you from stirring your hot toddy with these). Right? Right!
Hard candy is surprising easy. I know this from my whole three days of experience making hard candies.
First I tried some coffee/vanilla lollipops - major fail. In case you're wondering: coffee grounds don't lose their horribly crunchy texture when melted into molten sugar.
Then I made some lemon lollipops with organic lemon extract and fresh meyer lemon zest. FABULOUS.
Then I upped the ante and added a really cool white food coloring to the same batch and they came out milky yellow....so pretty. Oh, and I added some Jasmine syrup (tres chic!) so they taste floral-y and citrus-y at the same time. Yum.
Then I stepped up my game this morning by trying my hand at caramel. Um, totally different than just hard candy, in case you were wondering.
But totally awesome. And salty. And sweet. And I hope everyone at my Thanksgiving table enjoys them!
Salted Caramel Lollipops
Recipe adapted from this one.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar* (plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (the good stuff)
- 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lollipop or Popsicle sticks
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a Silpat or lining it with aluminium foil and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray. Or, if you have a lollipop candy mold, prepare it by spraying the molds with non-stick spray and placing the lollipop sticks.
Place the water, sugar and vinegar into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar melts, then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Insert a candy thermometer and clip it to the side of your pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil and, once boiling, slowly stir in one cube of butter at a time. Continue to cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reads 300 F.
Once at 300 F, remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla and stir it in until incorporated.
Allow pan to cool for 4-5 minutes until candy starts to thicken. (BTW, you can't skip this step, it's totally crucial, believe, I tried). Once candy has thickened (think royal icing consistency) it will also have darkened and you can start to spoon it into your candy molds or onto your prepared sheet pan.
Using a spoon, spoon about 1 teaspoon of caramel into your mold / onto your sheet pan and let the caramel spread into a perfect circle. You need less than you think to make the perfect lollipop shape so stop at 1 teaspoons and see how far it spreads.
Do a few lollipops this way on the sheet pan and then put down the pan and place the lollipop sticks into the fresh caramel rounds. Lay the stick on top of the round, reaching into the center of the pop and turn it around slightly in the caramel to coat it on all sides. Quickly sprinkle with a tiny amount of big crystal sea salt.
Repeat until you've used up all of the caramel.
Lollipops will need up to 10 minutes to cool and harden completely.
If you're caramel hardens up before you finish making all of your pops, reheat it over low heat in its same pan and repeat steps above.
You can store lollipops in cling wrap or individual plastic bags. Powdered sugar doesn't look at pretty but dusting all the candies in it prevents them from sticking together.
* I don't like corn syrup so I actually added about 1 teaspoon lemon juice to replicate the acidity that corn syrup adds to hard candy. I heart that tip here.