For the Star Wars & Star Trek fans alike, as well as for the astronomer and home-school mom (and everything in-between)...These AMAZING nebula, galaxy, and planet lollipops (aka suckers) were just begging to be created!
NOTE: See the last step for comparisons between these lollipops and their real-life counterparts (courtesy of NASA).
The recipe for the lollipops is well-known, but the design of turning them into what I did here is my creation--and to my knowledge, it has yet to be created elsewhere.
They are SO simple and fun! Get ready to be the most awesome person in the neighborhood ;)
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Step 1: What You'll Need
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup (the clearer, the better)
1/4 cup water
1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract, juice, etc (optional--we used lemon juice)
Silver and gold edible glitter
Lollipop sticks (or bamboo sticks may work?)
Basting or Pastry Brush (or a new/never-used paintbrush)
Step 2: Get Everything Ready FIRST
1. BEFORE you start the process of making this candy, BE SURE to have everything you need out and ready as you have to work quickly throughout the process. This makes life much easier! :)
This includes having your baking sheets ready and lined with parchment paper. You can use silicone mats or molds, too, just make sure to spray them with non-stick cooking spray. (Also, have the toothpicks and lollipop sticks ready.)
2. Be sure to have ready and waiting some ice water in a bowl that can fit the base of your saucepan in it. Keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
If you don't have ice on hand, fill a bowl with water half full and put it in the freezer until you need it. It won't be ice, but it will be cold enough.
Step 3: Make the Lollipop Candy Base
1. Clip your candy thermometer to the inside of your saucepan.
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in the saucepan.
3. Over Medium heat, bring the mix to a boil STIRRING CONSTANTLY so it won't burn (and until all of the sugar has dissolved into the corn syrup and water).
4. Increase the heat to Medium-High and allow it to boil untouched for 5-7 minutes, or until it reaches 310 degrees Fahrenheit.
DURING THIS TIME: Wet the basting or pastry brush with water and wipe around the edges of the inside of the saucepan to prevent crystals from forming.
5. When your candy base reaches 310 degrees, take out your bowl of ice water and put the base of the saucepan immediately into it. Give it about 10-15 seconds in the ice water.
6. If your saucepan doesn't have a pouring spout, pour the candy base into a measuring glass (as seen in the pictures above).
7. If you're using any flavoring, carefully swirl it into the mixture now.
NOTE: To clean up any pots or utensils that have the hard candy base stuck on/in them, simply soak them in HOT water. The hot water will dissolve the sugar and loosen the candy base mix. Depending upon how much candy base you have left over and hardened to the surface, it could take awhile to dissolve away. You can try heating up the water over the stove or in the microwave to try and hurry the process. Or you can just set that pot aside and come back to it when it's all dissolved.
Step 4: Lollipop Time!
I found that when making free-hand lollipops on the baking sheets, it's easier when you allow the candy base to cool a little first in the measuring glass to about a syrup consistency (or else it will be too thin and runny and it will spread everywhere).
When you are ready to begin pouring (this is the part where you have to work FAST!):
1. Pour the size of lollipop you want onto your baking sheet
NOTE: Don't worry about getting your circles exactly right (or worry about making circles at all) because the different free-flowing shapes you make add dimension and character to each individual nebula/galaxy lollipop (just like in outer space). :)
2. IMMEDIATELY after you pour the base, insert a lollipop stick. Twist the stick once over (360 degrees) while it's in the candy base so it will be coated nice and evenly.
3. Add your food coloring drops now (BEFORE pouring your next candy. Do each one fully one at a time...if you don't, the lollipops will harden too fast before you get a chance to get all the colors and glitter in).
4. To make a galaxy or nebula, swirl the food coloring around with a toothpick to your desired effect.
5. Add your edible glitter now and press it into the candy gently.
6. Move on to the next lollipop and repeat steps 1-5 until all the candy base is used up.
TIP: If the candy base gets too hard to pour, simply heat it up again over medium heat on the stove just until it melts back into the proper consistency.
NOTE: As you see here in the pictures, I tried the cornstarch mold approach, too. I sifted cornstarch into a deep baking dish and used my 1/4 cup measuring cup bottom to make indentations in the cornstarch for deeper, thicker lollipops. These didn't have as much detail in them, as the depth prevented the ingredients from reaching the bottom (which would technically be the front when they're done), and swirling the colors was a bit of a challenge as the cornstarch would swirl into the lollipops. BUT, they DID still turn out cool as you will see in the next step (for instance the green tailed nebula).
Step 5: Nebulae, Galaxies, Planets? Oh My!
This step is dedicated to simply showing you all the different lollipops we made (to give you inspiration). The lollipops are shown here with their real-life counterparts from actual NASA photos. Gorgeous! (Open the pictures in slideshow form for best viewing.)
Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below :)
NOTE: To get the full universal effect, put the finished lollipops in front of a window or a light.You will be AMAZED!
The last two pictures show what the lollipops look like as you suck on them. They almost resemble a cool glass candy!
SO THE FUN DOESN'T STOP AT JUST MAKING THEM!!! They take on new life and forms throughout the entire process. :)
This is also a great project for your kids to help with, too.
ENJOY, have fun, and send me some pictures below!