Making Old-Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy is more than just “making candy.”
It is an opportunity to pass down family holiday traditions.
It is an opportunity to create memories.
A chance to spend time with those you love,
and a way to make a homemade Christmas gift.
So when my daughter-in-law, Colleen asked if we could make hard tack candy this year, I was so excited!
It has been quite a few years since the days when I was about her age and my mother-in-law taught me.
My sister-in-laws and I got together every year with my mother-in-law to make hard tack candy around this time (Thanksgiving weekend), so that the guys could take a bagful in their pockets for their annual deer-hunting trip, which always opens the Monday after Thanksgiving in our neck of the woods, and we would have plenty to enjoy and share as a special homemade gift.
The recipe is quite simple, but also a bit messy, so we were very fortunate to have an extra helper this year in Charlie, who kept the floor lickety-split clean from any powdered sugar, butter or flying candy that hit it!
Colleen and her sweet sister, Katie, caught on amazingly quick, and we ended up making 10 batches to split between the three of us.
We were happy with our results, and now the tradition has been started for the next generation.
I hope you will give it a try!
There is still plenty of time to make this sweet treat and create some memories with a new family tradition.
Here’s our recipe:
Old-Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy
- 1 cup water
- 3 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 1/4 cup Karo Corn Syrup
- Food Coloring
- 1 dram (tsp) LorAnn Oil & Candy Flavoring of your choice (we used Cherry, Lemon, Strawberry, Raspberry, Watermelon, Orange, Butterscotch, Spearmint, Peppermint, and Cinnamon)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Butter (room temperature)
Mix water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Heat to boiling and boil until it reaches 300 degrees F (hard tack) on a candy thermometer (takes about 20 mins).
While that is cooking, prepare your cutting station. Cover counter or table with an old tablecloth. Pour powdered sugar directly onto the tablecloth and spread around. Amply butter three dinner plates and place on table amidst the powdered sugar. Sterilize scissors or kitchen shears in a pot of boiling water.
When the mixture reaches 300 degrees F, remove from heat and add food coloring and oil flavoring. Stir until combined.
Pour onto prepared buttered dishes, dividing evenly between the three. Let it cool for up to a minute, then begin gently pulling with scissors to edge of plate. With buttered hands, begin to pull and cut it off into the powdered sugar. You can snip a little at a time, or pour off large dollops into the powdered sugar. Let cool slightly and turn over to assure both sides have powdered sugar on them, but do not allow the powdered sugar to mix INTO the candy. Snip with shears into bite-sized pieces. Place in a colander and shake off excess powdered sugar. Spread out on a platter to cool completely. Store in air-tight containers, mason jars, or Ziploc baggies.
A couple of pointers:
- I can’t even imagine making this by myself. I think a minimum of three people are needed to keep it moving as you need to work fast once you pour it as it cools quickly. Plus – it is so much more fun doing it together!
- It is HOT! Be prepared! Butter your hands and plate liberally to be able to deal with it, and work quickly.
- Be careful when pouring in the oil flavorings as some are very potent – cinnamon and the mints especially. Be sure not to breathe in directly over the pot, and have the room well ventilated – open the door or window if necessary and have your exhaust fan on.
- Some people pour the hot liquid into a pan, let it cool, and then crack it by banging the pan on the counter or table or using a gentle small hammer or tool to pound and crack. I think that makes it very sharp, but you can do that if you prefer.
- If you make cinnamon and mint along with fruit flavors – store separately until you put together to gift or serve as the cinnamon and mint flavors can overpower all others.
I hope this was helpful. Any questions, let me know.
What is your favorite flavor?
Do you have a favorite holiday cooking or baking or crafting tradition?
Cheers & Hugs,