Friday, February 18, 2011

The Sucker Saga

This year when unpacking the Valentine's decor, I stumbled across a recipe/idea I pulled out of a magazine years ago. Valentine Suckers. Of course, I had to make them for Ella and Henry to attach to their handmade valentines.

The other bonus was a trip to the craft store. I love craft stores. I found Hobby Lobby had the best and most complete selection. It is there one may select from many mold choices and flavorings. Be sure to buy the tempered molds designed for hot sugar. Chocolate molds will not hold up to the 300 degree heat. The flavoring packages include a variety of recipes.

Candy making is fascinating to me. It starts with corn syrup, water and sugar, cooks to 300 degrees, remove from the heat and stir in the flavoring extract or oil and it's candy. Very cool.

Various recipes suggest adding the coloring at various times. Since I used paste coloring and wanted to be sure it was distributed evenly, I added it with the ingredients in the beginning. It worked out fine.

Lightly canola oil sprayed molds at the ready, sticks in place. Since I was unsure exactly how many suckers a "batch" of hot sugar made, I also had two trays of "jewels" to use up the extra. The "jewels" were adorable in cello bags tied with wide satin ribbon for Jake and Max's "girl friends". They also pulled Jake and Max's forgetful friends out of certain Valentine misery. Nice to know they have their buddies backs.

The trickiest part is pouring the hot sugar into the mold. I suggest a glass measuring cup. Work quickly since it cools really fast.

I think they were really adorable. However, I do want to share a few things I leaned on Sucker Street...

#1 - Buy as many molds as you can if you have a ton of suckers to make.

#2 - Realize before you start that 30+23 = 53. If you subtract your own two kids from the equation that's 51. Sucker sticks and bags come in packs of 50.

#3 - 50 is A LOT of suckers.

#4 - Start making your suckers well before the day before the "need by" day.

#5 - While I typically seldom rely on my microwave, in this case it was huge help. Microwave batches are smaller so if you have limited molds, it's the only way to go.

#6 - Cinnamon oil will take the varnish off a wood surface. For real.

#7- Avoid cherry extract at all costs. While it may be tasty in the end, it makes the entire house smell like Robitussin for a very long time. Gross.

#8 - More often than not, my insane projects "for the kids" are my own self destructive path to stress and anxiety. Midway into the path of said anxiety, one must continue forward since it's "for the kids" and I've elevated the suckers to rock star status.

#9 - There is always at least one kids sick on Valentine's Day so stop while you're ahead.

In the end, we had a lovely Valentine's Day gathered around the fondue pot. Much cheese and chocolate were consumed and really, besides love, what else do you need?

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