This super easy hard candy recipe without corn syrup is perfect for those who want to make some flavoured candy but don’t want to put forward an initial investment for things like lollypop molds.
Using only a handful of ingredients and requiring no specialized equipment, this recipe is perfect for those with a sweet tooth or if you’re looking for a unique, homemade gift to give.
Most recipes for hard candy (or any candy for that matter) call for corn syrup. While this certainly ensures that your candy-making is foolproof so long as you cook the syrup to the right temperature, it is by no means essential for success in candy-making.
So whether you don’t want to use corn syrup in your cooking, forgot to pick it up in the supermarket or, like me, you live in a locality where it is not a common ingredient in stores, this recipe should help you out. Here, I will outline all of the potential pitfalls you may encounter to ensure that you have candy-making success!
How to Make Hard Candy Without Corn Syrup
Making old-fashioned hard candy without any corn syrup follows the same steps as many other types of candy without corn syrup, such as my candy strawberries or my candy apples. It starts with dissolving sugar in water and then cooking it to a specific temperature.
Why so many recipes call for corn syrup is that it is far more forgiving to use a liquid sugar as it prevents the formation of sugar crystals in your syrup, which then makes it virtually impossible for the mixture to seize.
However, if you ensure that your sugar is completely dissolved in the syrup before it begins to boil, this eliminates the need for corn syrup altogether.
So, begin by adding some caster sugar (which I recommend over using granulated sugar because it dissolves more easily) to a saucepan. Pour over a bit of water and set over medium-low heat.
With a silicone spatula, stir the syrup until it has completely dissolved and ensure it does not come to a boil before the sugar is completely dissolved.
If you’re worried that the mixture is coming to a boil too quickly, then feel free to periodically remove it from the heat if it’s getting too hot before the sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, you can allow the mixture to come to a boil. Wash the sides of the pan down to get rid of any sugar crystals that may have collected on the sides. You can do this by dipping a pastry brush in cool water and brushing it on the sides.
As soon as the mixture is boiling, it’s also important to stop stirring entirely. Simply allow the syrup to boil, checking the temperature of the mixture periodically with an instant-read thermometer or a candy thermometer. When the mixture reaches 150°C (300°F), remove the syrup from the heat.
Then, stir in some flavour extract of your choice (I used lemon extract here) and a few drops of corresponding food colouring. I find liquid food colouring works better than gel in this instance as it incorporates more easily.
You can also find natural food colourings and extracts if you’re concerned about artificial colours and flavours. For instance, the food colouring I use is derived from turmeric rather than artificial sources.
Use a skewer (or your thermometer) to stir in the extract and colouring. Don’t use a spoon or spatula because agitation can cause the mixture to crystallise.
Next, pour the sugar syrup into a baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper. Ensure that it is all settling into an even layer.
Then, dust the top of the candy with some icing sugar. The icing sugar will give the finished hard candy a dusty, frosted look like something you could find in an old-fashioned candy shop.
Allow the hard candy to set and cool completely – this should take about fifteen minutes. Once the candy has hardened, remove it from the pan and set it on a cutting board.
Use a wooden spoon to gently wack the slab of candy to break it into bite-sized pieces.
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon flavour extract
- 4-5 drops liquid food colouring
- ¼ (50g) cup icing sugar
- Line an 8in (20cm) square baking dish with parchment paper, ensuring some overhang over the sides to act as handles for easy removal. Set a dish of water and a pastry brush next to the stove.
- Add the sugar to a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour over ¼ cup (60ml) of cool water and set over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, slowly dissolve the sugar as the mixture heats up. Be sure the mixture does not come to a boil before the sugar is dissolved. If necessary, take the pan off the heat periodically to prevent the syrup from boiling before the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved in the syrup, bring the mixture up to a boil. When you see bubbles begin to form on the bottom of the pot, stop stirring entirely. Dip the pastry brush into the dish of water and wash down the sides of the pan to get rid of any collected sugar crystals.
- Allow the syrup to boil, undisturbed, until it reaches a temperature of 300°F (150°C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer (see note 2). Remove the pot from the heat and, using a skewer (or your thermometer), stir in the extract and the food colouring.
- Pour the molten sugar mixture into the prepared pan, tilting the pan to ensure that it is in an even layer. Add the icing sugar to a small mesh sieve and lightly dust the top of the candy with the sugar.
- Allow the candy to set until cooled completely and brittle - about 10-15 minutes. Use the parchment to lift it from the pan and set it on a cutting board. Use a wooden spoon to gently break the slab of candy into bite-sized pieces.
1. I recommend using caster sugar (also known as superfine sugar) here as it dissolves more easily and quickly in the water. However, you can use granulated sugar if this is all you have.
2. If you don't have a thermometer, keep a dish of ice water next to your stove. Periodically add a few drops of sugar syrup to the water as it boils and as soon as the syrup hardens into hard, brittle strings, it is ready to remove from the heat and stir in the flavour and food colouring.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 0gSugar: 28gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
That’s all there is to making this hard candy recipe! This is an easy candy that is great for beginners to candy-making and the results are delicious.
Are you looking to make hard candy without any corn syrup? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!