A while back, B. Ruth left a comment on the Grannyism page asking if Granny ever made Hard Rock Candy.
Does Granny have a recipe for Hard rock candy…Maybe the one that is in long sticks, then snipped in bite size pieces and rolled in powdered sugar (to keep from sticking)?”
I don’t remember Granny ever making hard rock candy, but the lady who fixes Granny’s hair makes Hard Rock Candy every Christmas and gives it out as gifts. When I visit Granny this time of the year I always look around for the little jelly jar full of hard rock candy and sneak a few pieces.
After B. Ruth got me to thinking about hard rock candy I decided I’d make some myself. I found a recipe in Mark F. Shohn’s Mountain Country Cooking and there was a recipe inside the package of cinnamon oil I purchased for the candy. The recipes were almost exactly alike, except Shohn’s gave the option of making Sassafras Hard Rock Candy.
I assembled all my ingredients and gave it a go. Even though I was using a candy thermometer I somehow managed to burn the candy. And my what a smoky smelly mess that made! I carried the pot outside and set it down to cool and went right back in the kitchen to give it another try.
This time I got out my red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that Granny got me when I was first married. The recipe for Hard Rock Candy in it was basically the same however it had more details about the process, making it clear the rise in temperature had to be at a slow and steady pace. The Better Homes and Gardens recipe also used a lower temperature for the candy.
Christmas Hard Rock Candy
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup light-colored corn syrup
- 1/4 desired food coloring
- A few drops of cinnamon or peppermint oil
- a candy thermometer
- aluminum foil (or tin foil as we call it)
First line a 8X8 pan with foil and butter the foil. I didn’t have an 8X8 pan so I make one out of a larger pan by placing a small loaf pan in one end with a can of can food to hold it in place under the foil.
Butter sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan.
Add sugar, corn syrup, and water to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils, stirring to dissolve the sugar-about 5 minutes. Using a candy thermometer reduce heat to medium and boil until the mixtures reaches 290 degrees. Stir mixture occasionally, this part takes a good 20 minutes if not longer.
Once the mixture reaches 290 remove it from the heat quickly. Add food coloring and flavoring stir and then quickly pour the hot mixture into the foil lined pan. Let the mixture cool about 10 minutes and then using a spatula score the top layer of the candy in a checkerboard pattern. If the mixture is too hot the score marks will disappear-don’t worry just wait a few minutes more and try again.
Cool completely. Turned cooled candy out onto a cutting board and break along the score marks. This part didn’t work out to well for me. So I ended up laying a piece of plastic wrap on top of the candy and beating it into small pieces by using the back of an ice-cream scooper. (the plastic keeps the pieces from flying all over the place)
Put the broken pieces of candy into a ziplock bag and add less than 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Shake the bag around to coat the candy. This step makes the candy look prettier and it keeps it from sticking together.
Even though I ruined the first batch the second batch of candy was more than worth all the trouble and mess. I don’t know who likes it better The Deer Hunter or me.
A few key points:
- while the thermometer starts off slowly climbing it seems to speed up as it reaches about 230 so be sure to stay close by
- the mixture is beyond hot so be careful not to get splattered by it
- once the cinnamon or peppermint oil is added to the hot mixture the quick release of odor will almost catch your breath if you’re leaning over the pot
- this recipe seems to be a different one than what B. Ruth remembered as there was no long strips snipped into bite size pieces, however Miss Cindy makes a Christmas mint that is stretched and pulled until the right consistency and then it’s snipped into pieces
- Granny’s hairdresser uses molds for her hard rock candy so the pieces are all uniform in size and shape