I'm not sure why but I wound up in a tizzy a few days ago with the dire need to learn how to make Hard Tack candies. Maybe it's the time of year, the nostalgia of pretending I had the power to eat stained glass, the babies (who can't even eat any), the need for traditions?
I don't know but I wanted some and had no idea where to find it, so off to the cook book and grocery store I went.
As with "most" things I go about doing for the D.I.Y. category, I found that this was surprisingly easy to make. I figured I would fail miserably, but I only botched my "practice" batch. And now I have a Tupperware full of Strawberry and Root Beer hard tack and am planning on making enough to hand out as mini Christmas gifts. MmMmMMMmmm
I'm going to share the recipe with pictures here. I hope you all enjoy this blast from the past!
First things first, your ingredients!
2/3 Cup of KARO syrup
2 Cups of White Sugar
3/4-1 Cup of Water
Powdered Sugar (optional)
Food Coloring Dye (optional)
Lightly Greased foil lined cookie sheets
Dram of flavoring oil (1 Dram per batch)
If you're having trouble locating Flavor Oils, check with the pharmacy. Many stores keep them there.
You can also use flavored Extracts for in place of your flavor oil, but you will need about 9-10 mL of flavoring to compare with 1 Dram of flavor oil which is only a little over 3 mL.
Candy Thermometer (If you're a beginner, a candy thermometer will be your best friend for this recipe).
or a cold glass of water and a timer.
Metal stirring spoon
LET'S START COOKING!!!
Combine your 2 Cups of white sugar, 2/3 Cup of Karo syrup, and 1 Cup of water in your (medium to large) cooking pot. Set your stove top to Medium. If you have a gas stove you want a nice Medium flame! If you're using a candy thermometer you want to place it in your pot now. Hang it over the side of your pot, you want the thermometer in the liquid but NOT touching the bottom of the pan.
You're going to STIR your ingredients until your sugar has dissolved.
For those of you using your candy thermometer, you're going to drop your food coloring dye into the boiling mixture once your temperature reaches 260 degrees.
DO NOT STIR.
Let the boiling mixture distribute the coloring.
At 300 degrees remove your pot from the flame.
**Cold water test- Take a spoonful of the mixture at around the 17-20 minute mark and drop the mixture into your glass of cold water (which should be set aside). You want the mixture to instantly harden upon touching the cold water. After a few moments in the water you should be able to take your mixture into your hands and it should "crack" or break apart fairly easily. Take your pot off the flame when your mixture has reached this stage. **
A fun mini science experiment to do with your children is to drop a spoonful of mixture into glasses of water throughout the cooking. They will see each stage of the sugar cooking.
"thread stage (liquid threads)" "Soft Ball (mixture will form into a soft pliable ball)" "Hard Ball ( Mixture will form into a hard non pliable ball)" "Crack (mixture will crack and break easily)"
WHEN MIXTURE IS NO LONGER BOILING:
You are going to now pour in your Flavoring oil Dram or 10 mL of extract.
Keep your face away from the pot. Flavor will cause a big cloud of steam and flavor to rise. ** When using cinnamon or peppermint it may be best to take your pot outside and add your flavoring. ** Flavoring is quite strong.
Stir the mixture and then pour into your lightly greased foil lined cookie sheets.
Your mixture should start to harden and set pretty quickly. I will occasionally throw mine into the fridge or place it out in my garage (we have cold temps) to speed up the "setting"
Now the fun begins!!!!
Grab your hammer, screw drivers, or anything hard and give your candy sheet a WHACK!
Whack away *snicker snicker* until you have all your desired pieces.
Store your candy in an air tight container and Enjoy often!