There is no season more appropriate for family traditions than during the holidays. My family has quite a few, so we combine them all in one day. Our family tradition is to set aside one Saturday after Thanksgiving where my mom, two sisters, niece, nephew, and I get together to bake cookies, create Gingerbread houses, and make Hard Candy.
Growing up with two sisters beside myself, it was hard to decide what type of Christmas cookie to make. So, we make multiple batches, and everyone gets to pick their favorite to bake. My sisters like the Christmas Wreaths and Peanut Butter Blossoms, whereas I go more traditional with Sugar Cookies or Chocolate Chip Cookies. While the cookies are baking, my mom is building a Gingerbread house with her grandkids. I’m not sure who enjoys making the Gingerbread House more.
The highlight of our Christmas Baking Day is the making of Hard Candy. My family has been making Hard Candy for as long as I can remember. We learned how, from my dad’s mom. She was the one to start the tradition of making Hard Candy for the Christmas season. I remember going to my Grandmother’s house over the holidays and hunting for the tin that held the sugary goodness. When you opened the container, you would get all the flavors wafting up toward you at once. Then your fingers would be covered in powdered sugar as you dug in. You were lucky if you were able to find your favorite flavor by picking out a particular color. But that wasn’t always as easy as you would think. Grandma liked to throw in a surprise and not match the color with the flavor. This caused some surprises when you thought you were getting orange and ended up with butterscotch.
This tradition has been passed down through my aunts. Now my sisters and I are making Hard Candy at Christmastime. For those who have never had Hard Candy before, be prepared for a sugar high as that is what it is and entirely made up of. The uniqueness is that we add flavors and food coloring to it to make it a colorful treat for the holidays. We all choose one flavor to make. I haven’t wavered once in all the years of making it or eating it as I always pick Cinnamon! But, the choices for everyone else are as diverse as the flavor options available. It depends on what flavor oils we found at the stores and bought. You can get everything from Strawberry, Apple, Black Cherry, Grape, Lemon, Root Beer, Spearmint, and Watermelon. You can order online flavors such as Buttered Popcorn, Marshmallow, Eggnog, Cookies & Cream, and even Bourbon and Brandy. Guaranteed, you can find a flavor that you would like for your Hard Candy.
With life being uncertain at the moment, our holiday tradition will probably change. The laughter and giggles will be subdued as we won’t be together. But, that won’t stop us from making Hard Candy, we will be doing it at our individual houses and then when we do get together, we will swap flavors just like we always did.
Hard Candy Recipe
- 2 cups of sugar
- ⅔ Karo Light Corn Syrup
- ¾ cups of water
- 1 Dram LorAnn Flavoring Oil
- Food Coloring
- Powder Sugar
- Candy Thermometer – capable of measuring above 300 degrees
Lay aluminum foil down on a table. It is recommended to have a towel underneath the foil as the candy does get hot.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a pot. Boil to exactly 310 degrees. Watch the temperature closely. Once it reaches 310 degrees, pour in the food coloring then the flavor oil. Stir constantly to mix the flavor oil with the sugar mixture. Once mixture is completely mixed in, pour quickly thin rows of liquid on the foil. Once the candy has cooled completely, crack/break pieces off and mix in a bowl of powdered sugar (this is to keep the candy from sticking to each other). Then collect a mixture of flavors in your favorite tin or mason jar to give to your friends and family.