On the Fast Track

by: Barb Hagen

Choosing a theme, decorating the cake, creating party favors, and making table decorations... so many details, so little time! Get behind the creative wheel in this race against time with HARD CANDY. Making your own hard candy is much easier than you may think and makes wonderful party favors, table decorations, even cake toppers. From birthdays, to retirements, to whatever exciting occasion is on your social calendar, choosing an appropriate, catchy theme can make the difference between an average party and an exciting party that will leave your guests talking for days! For example, you'll create excitement all the way to the finish line with this racing theme.

Hard candy is an inexpensive way to provide sweets for a party. There are many different flavors, colors, and shapes you can use for any party theme. By molding racecars out of hard candy, you will be adding flashy details to your party with minimal effort and cost while winning checkered flag smiles from all of your guests. Below are some tips and instructions to help get you to the finish line of your entire racing party plans.


  • Working quickly and efficiently is important with cooking and molding hard candy. Just like the crews in the pit area, it is important to have everything assembled and ready for most efficient use of time. An additional member on your crew (over the age of 12) is advisable.
  • Arrange your countertop so you have all utensils and ingredients within fast reach.
  • Keep paste colors and toothpicks near the stove for quick addition.
  • Have flavors available near stove.
  • You may want to have waxed paper or spoon holder ready for laying down sticky spoons or thermometer.


  • Hard Candy Mix (IN0525) or Hard Candy Recipe
  • Candy Thermometer (CE5983) - needs to read at least 400º degrees F
  • Heavy Duty Sauce Pan
  • Flavoring Oil (FL0210) & Dropper
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Race Car Mold or any mold of your choice
  • Spray Pan Coating
  • Candy Funnel with Control Stick (F15A)
  • Red, Green, Orange Paste Color (CD0211-RED)
  • Toothpicks (use these to add color)
  • Sucker Sticks (PP0150) if making lollipops


1. Lightly coat your molds with vegetable oil or a nonstick cooking spray. Lay the molds on cookie sheets, a dishtowel or paper towels. If you are making suckers, place lollipop sticks in their places. (If you are just making candy pieces, not suckers, no sticks will be needed.)

2. Warm or spray the candy funnel so syrup will easily pour through. Prepare a lightly oiled cookie sheet to pour any extra candy syrup after molds have been filled.

3. Add complete contents of the hard candy mix (or use your hard candy recipe) into a heavy-duty saucepan - it is best to have straight sides so candy thermometer can be attached to side of pan.

4. Add 1/3 cup of warm water - if using mix. Stir to combine ingredients. Bring to boil with lid on. "Wash" sugar crystal from pot sides and finish boiling without the lid. *DO NOT let crystals form on the side of the pan. Heat syrup to 300º F (hard crack stage) on stovetop, without stirring.

5. Add desired color by dipping toothpick into paste color and then into syrup. Be careful because syrup is very hot! You may wish to add the color when temperature of syrup is around 260ºF. You do not need to stir because boiling action will incorporate the color into the syrup.

6. Remove the syrup from heat at precisely 300ºF. After boiling has stopped add the flavoring. One teaspoon of flavoring will give the hard candy sucker a bold flavor from the first lap of the tongue! Stir only enough to distribute the flavor so as not to create air bubbles in the syrup.

7. Hold the control rod of your candy funnel so that it covers the hole in the funnel. Pour the hot syrup into the funnel.

8. Hold the funnel over the molds and slightly lift the rod to release the syrup into the mold. WORK FAST because the syrup will cool quickly and be difficult to pour. (Keep your pan over hot water to keep the remaining syrup from setting up.) If you have leftover syrup after filling all molds pour it onto greased cookie sheet and score at once with metal spatula or knife to mark squares. (One batch of hard candy mix makes approximately 8 racing cars.)

9. Allow candy to cool until hardened before removing from molds. This generally takes about an hour. To unmold candies, turn mold upside down and flex mold gently. Store in airtight containers until use on your party cake.

1. Plan for your hard candy race day and establish your starting position. Hard candy may not harden on rainy or humid days. While you are in the process you do not wish to be disturbed. You may want to take the phone off the hook or let the answering machine retrieve your calls. Make sure younger children are occupied outside of the kitchen while cooking the very hot syrup. Naptime might work best.

Traditional Hard Candy Recipe If you want to try making hard candy from scratch:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cups water
Cook using same instructions as above.

2. Thermometer Calibration for High Altitudes. Before making the candy, check your candy thermometer for accuracy by placing it in water and bringing the water to a boil. The thermometer should register 212ºF. (100ºC). If the reading is higher or lower, take the difference into account when testing the temperature of a syrup.

When planning your next special event, consider homemade hard candy, as the timesaving, cost-effective, creative (and delicious) solution to all of your planning needs. And if the theme you've chosen is racing let the 'first lap' of planning include a visit to Kitchen Krafts.com - your candymaking headquarters.