Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cinnamon Hard Candies

When we drive to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I love stopping in the small town of West at the Czech Stop and Bakery there.  They have the best kolaches I have found, and while I am planning on trying and sharing a kolache recipe that might get somewhat close, that will have to wait until a later post.  The Czech Stop also sells a cinnamon hard candy that reminds my husband of Fire Jolly Ranchers.  He went through the last baggie faster than I could keep up with.  So, since we don't drive by West very often, I figured I'd try my hand at making some of my own.  The best part is, you can vary the spiciness yourself by adjusting the amount of cinnamon oil.  **A note on cinnamon oil...I tried to find it at HEB and Central Market.  You may be able to find some at a pharmacy, but in the end, I ordered mine online.  You will need the food grade cinnamon oil, not the aromatherapy stuff.  It's very potent, so be careful with it.  Concentrated, it will burn your skin and mouth.

Cinnamon Hard Candy
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon oil
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (if desired)

    Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a large pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then allow to boil until it reaches a temperature of 310 degrees (hard crack stage) on a candy thermometer, about 10-15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, grease a large cookie sheet (or two smaller ones) with non-stick spray or vegetable oil.  If you have a silicone baking mat, those work really well here, too.
     Remove the sugar/syrup mixture from the heat and stir in the red food coloring.  The mixture may bubble up a little.  Carefully stir in the cinnamon oil (try to stay out of the way of the steam that comes off the syrup, it can irritate your eyes, nose or throat).  Don't wait too long to stir in the cinnamon oil or it will not mix in.  Tilt the pot slightly to make sure the oil is mixing in to the sugar and not simply sitting on top.
    Pour the mixture very carefully onto the greased cookie sheet (careful, this is now a mixture that resembles molten lava, it can burn skin badly and quickly).  Allow the candy to cool completely, about 30-60 minutes, before breaking into pieces.  Cover the candy with paper towels and then whack away with a rolling pin.  Watch out for small shards flying around the kitchen.  Dust with powdered sugar to keep the candies from sticking to each other while stored.

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