Recent kitchen escapades have had a decidedly sugar-based format. I’m not sure I’m 100% OK with that; it’s not like my life needs more sugar in it, but whatever. 

In service of a larger project that will remain hush-hush for now, I’ve been experimenting with making lollipops. I went to a totally cool local store called Home Cake to buy lollipop molds and sticks. Man, that place has got EVERYTHING for making cakes, cookies, and candy of every variety. While there I also got little drams of various flavorings (some natural, but mostly artificial) and a few more bottles of food coloring to add to my collection.

Making lollipops impresses people, and it’s not that hard. You melt 1 cup sugar in 1/2 cup water until it reaches the “hard crack” stage of ~301 degrees F. You do have to be careful because it’s not too much past that when the syrup starts to burn, which I have unfortunately done twice. But so far I’ve made tangerine, pomegranate, and watermelon flavored batches and it’s really fun. The texture gets kind of rough and crystalline, because I have to stir in the flavor and color after it reaches hard crack, and stirring syrup after it boils causes crystal formation. I’m going to try adding 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, which are supposed to inhibit the crystals.

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Meanwhile, I like making sugar cookies at Christmas time. My first batch this year was your basic catastrophe. Somehow there didn’t seem to be enough flour in the dough and it handled really poorly. I forgot to sufficiently flour the surface I was rolling them out on, and most of them stuck to the surface so I couldn’t get them onto the cookie sheet without destroying the shapes. And the ones I managed to cook, I forgot to cool sufficiently before trying to remove them from the cookie sheet, and they shattered. I was very grumpy after this.

Luckily the next day, I addressed all those issues successfully and things went more smoothly. I baked two batches, which made over 13 dozen cookies! I made trees, Santas, stars, bells, gingerbread boys, and flowers. And lots of misshapen scraps (you really can’t re-roll sugar cookie dough very well, so it’s best to just bake the scraps as-is).

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