At a recent sale I was so excited when these were discovered on a table in a little room off the kitchen.
These are small cast iron molds of Christmas shapes. I adore cast iron. I don't know why; maybe the heaviness of it, the feel of it, I don't know....I just love it.
This one has a snowflake, a stocking, a star and a gingerbread man
This mold has a drummer boy, a trumpet (my favorite), a gingerbread house, and a dancing bear.
When I was in high school mom taught me how to make suckers by boiling sugar and water to the hard candy stage. We simply laid a lollipop stick on a buttered cookie sheet and poured a little round circle of the sugar mixture over the stick. So, these brought back Christmas memories; only these are fancier and 3 dimensional.
The molds came with a flyer telling the History of these candies. It states that in Christmases past children would set out a dinner plate before going to bed. When they woke up the next morning they would find the plates filled with fruit, nuts and molded hard candy they called "clear toys".
The John Wright Company has reproduced the antique molds, modernizing them with a non-stick surface. Information on the box of the set I found indicates this set was made exclusively for Williams-Sonoma around the mid-nineties.
The molds are held together with a short, heavy-duty rubber band.
Being a little skeptical about leaks, I set them on an old jelly roll pan.
Over medium heat you will heat the sugar, cream of tarter, water mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Then you'll let it boil until it reaches the hard crack stage at 300°F.
After bringing the candy mixture to right temperature you carefully pour the liquid into each mold. Insert the lollipop sticks; this kit came with 4-1/2" sticks
Let the candy cool. The instruction leaflet said that cooling would take 4 to 8 minutes.
Hmmm.....don't think so. I found that you need to go by the feel of the mold (temperature) and test every once in a while to gently pry them apart to see if they are going to come apart easily and release the candies from one side of the mold. I used a screw driver tip to slip in between the molds.
I began with the 8 minutes to cool then tried every 5 minutes to check the ease of the molds separating.
Lift out of the molds by gently grabbing the lollipop stick right at the base of the candies and pulling up. This is a snowflake.
I added a couple drops of green food coloring and natural peppermint flavoring right after pulling the pan off the stove, prior to pouring the candy in the molds.
You can still enjoy this clear candy, even if you don't have 3 dimensional molds. Simply butter 2 large baking sheets. Quickly drop liquid from a large spoon onto the baking sheets making the drops round. Press a lollipop stick into the edge of each lollipop before it hardens.
Yields 8 individual clear toys
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
Heaping 1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
3 ounces water
Optional: 1 tsp. of natural flavoring and/or food coloring
8 (4-1/2") lollipop sticks
Mise en place:
- assemble molds and stand upright on baking sheet with sides
- have lollipop sticks ready to insert
- if using flavoring and/or coloring, have those standing by
- measure sugar, cream of tartar and water into a heavy saucepan
- have a candy thermometer ready to attach to side of saucepan
Heat the sugar, cream of tartar and water mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Cover and let cook 2 - 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Remove the lid. Cook without stirring until temperature reads 300°F on a candy thermometer. Total cooking time is approximately 25 minutes. Add a few drops of coloring and the flavoring quickly after removing from heat.
Pour the syrup into molds slowly. Fill each mold halfway on first pass and do a second pass, filling to the top. If you fill too quickly the mold will overflow.
Insert lollipop sticks immediately and let cool. After approximately 8 minutes start testing the molds to see if they will separate completely from the other half of the mold. If sticks lean after insertion, straighten as liquid hardens. Denser shapes take a little longer to harden. If you have difficulty in separating the molds, use a knife point or a flat screw driver to gently pry open.
Once molds are cooled and the two halves of mold separate cleanly remove candy from mold by slowly lifting the stick. If you remove the candy before it has cooled, shape may droop. If you wait too long candy may break. Wrap each candy toy in a lollipop wrapper and store in a cool, dry place.