Strawberry Candies

I've had an interest in making my own hard candy ever since I tried the most wonderful lollipops at the Eagle St Pier markets in Brisbane. This lovely lady makes these thick, heart-shaped lollipops in just about every flavour and colour; mine has (of course,) always been strawberry! We only got these treats on trips down from our (then) home in Tropical North Queensland so I suppose they've resonated with me as a special treat.

Anyway, years later, I figured I'd have a go at making some sparkling, sweet toffees of my own. My yummy little treats aren't perfectly shaped, but I see some beauty in that. It's nice to have homemade lollies.

What you'll need:
3 1/2 cups caster sugar
150ml glucose syrup
250ml water
2 tablespoons strawberry juice (see note)
2 drops pink food colouring
A candy thermometer
Extra caster sugar

What to do:
Grease a 20cm baking dish or slice tray lightly with oil. Pour about a cup of caster sugar into a bowl and set aside.

In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup and water. Stir continuously over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring to the boil. Once boiling, stop stirring! Bring the toffee up to 125C.

Remove the toffee from heat and add the juice and colouring. Do not stir! Return to heat and bring it up to 144C.

Pour the toffee into prepared tray and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Don't let it cool too much though, it needs to be pliable.

Once cooled yet pliable, roll teaspoons of the toffee into balls and then drop into caster sugar. You'll need to work quickly as the toffee will continue to set, so if you have someone to help that would be super! Continue to roll the toffee until you've used it all up. I found that the last of mine set hard and once that happens it cannot be reheated. Sugar work certainly is an art. Enjoy!

NOTE: Use the strawberry juice left in this recipe. You can make any flavour really… for citrus, add a tablespoon of your chosen juice and a teaspoon of rind. To make raspberry candies, heat a cup of raspberries over high heat until softened. Strain and add 2 tablespoons of juice. Make mints by adding a teaspoon of edible peppermint essence.