By Angela Denstad Stigeler
As I was awaiting a connecting flight on a recent business trip I began doing a little souvenir browsing. I was initially drawn to a display of lovely multi-hued transparent lollipops. Upon closer inspection, however, I was shocked to see that these suckers had real scorpions trapped inside! I inquired with the shopkeeper and she confirmed that the creatures were entirely edible. Though a real culinary curiosity, I declined the purchase on the grounds that I wouldn’t be able to stomach watching my kids lick them.
So we made up our own creepy confections just in time for Halloween. While these candies give the effect of insects (or arachnids, if you prefer) trapped in amber, they’re decorated with less exotic ingredients, mostly dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, shoestring licorice and candy corn. Though candy-making may seem scary, it’s actually quite simple so long as you’re precise. Once you try it, you might well be more frightened of cleaning up your lollipop-coated equipment. But that, too, is easily overcome by an overnight soak. So go ahead and cook up a batch of these likeable, lick-able treats.
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
5 drops orange food coloring
¼ teaspoon pure orange oil, or other flavoring
10-20 lollipop sticks
Assorted candies, nuts, seeds or dried fruit for decorating
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and spray the paper with vegetable oil spray. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir gently to dissolve sugar without splashing any crystals up the side of the pan. When the syrup comes to a boil, stop stirring and clip on a candy thermometer. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns golden and reaches 300 degrees to 310 degrees, hard-crack stage on the thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath in a bowl slightly larger than your saucepan in case the mixture starts to burn. Wash down the sides of the pan if necessary to prevent crystals from forming using a clean brush dipped in cold water.
Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the syrup to a 2-cup heatproof measuring cup. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir in the food coloring and orange oil until completely combined.
Working quickly, pour ten 3-inch circles, or 20 small circles, of syrup onto prepared baking sheets. Press in lollipop sticks. With your fingertips or a toothpick, lightly press decorations into the syrup. Set aside until completely cooled and hardened.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living