Monday, December 1, 2014

Easy Lollipops

You guys know I'm not Princess Crafty, right? If you don't, then I'm going to assume that you are legally blind. At any rate, for our Mom-run preschool, I had the letter 'L' and I always say nothing says Love Like Lollipops. Okay, I never say that, but wouldn't it be great if I did for letter L week. Anyway, I was looking on the internet for "Easy Lollipop" recipes and, folks, I was not finding easy recipes. I was finding the types of recipes that need a candy thermometer and lollipop molds and silicone sheets and--do you know how hot melted sugar gets--hotter than preschool-level hot--that's how hot.

So I turned to a little book I got my own preschooler for Christmas. It's called, Candy Aisle Crafts and is lovely. We got it from the library and Emma was obsessed with it. She'd look through the pictures and make requests. For weeks. Until I finally had to return it and she was sad. So I bought her her own for Christmas (shhhh). Now, in all honesty, some of the ideas in the book are what I like to call "sheer lunacy" (making polar bears from marshmallows types of things), but others--like the entire section on using hard candies to make simple lollipops--I must in all humility refer to as "sheer brilliance." You take hard candies (crushed or whole) and you arrange them over a lollipop-esque stick (we just used skewer type sticks), and you bake them and they come out all glued together and abstract art-ish and fabulous. The kids can help; they can arrange their candies in any old way they please. And then you pop them in the oven till they melt together. And then they cool. And that, my internet friends, is an easy lollipop. A kid-help-friendly lollipop. A lollipop that is easy to Like and Love and Lick and Linger on.

It is also a lollipop that can be easily and whimsically adapted to the holidays. To be honest, I'd choose one of these over a gingerbread house any day. With these I get almost no parental work and your kids still get the sugar orgy. Win!Win?

You can use them to decorate, to craft/eat with your kids, or to give as gifts if you have hard-candy loving friends. 

Here's what you do:
1. Preheat oven to 275.
2. Cover your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. If you do not do this, your candy will stick and you will hate your life for at least several hours afterwards (possibly even a whole day).
3. Arrange your candies. Use any old stick you've got. We used skewers. You can use whole candies, or crush them. Naturally I opted for whole ones since crushing/breaking candies sounded like a lot of messy work.

4. Bake. Start with five minutes, and check, although if you're using hard Starlight mint style candies like we did, you can probably start checking at 8 of 9 minutes. Our lollipops took about 12 minutes total, but you do want to check yours if you're using different types of hard candy (say Jolly Ranchers) because if they melted too much they'd spread all over everywhere.

5. When they've melt-molded to your satisfaction, take them out, let them cool, and then they're good for eating, or using as decorations, or giving away.

Note: Try to use similar types of hard candy--say all Jolly Ranchers or all round mints. Why? Because different hard candies have different melting points and if they're not matched somewhat evenly, then some will be super spread when the others haven't begun to budge. We did try a bag of assorted candies and all had generally the same (or close enough melting points except the Werther's-style candies).

Note: Know that they shatter. After preschool, I found myself sweeping and mopping my floor. So don't let your kids wander around chomping on these unless you want peppermint speckled carpet for the holidays.

Note: If you plan to give them away, you may want to parcel them up in parchment paper for classic Christmas prettiness and for unstickiness.

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