Today, I’m going to take you on a little adventure. It started with a cool idea (using flavored sparking water to make lollipops), but hit a few curves and roadblocks (owning NO candy molds and 3 different stores didn’t sell them). Luckily the ending is sweet – with my cool idea working, plus coming up with a creative candy mold idea.
Since our science project on the candy stages, I’ve been wanting to make lollipops. I’ve never made them, but I had the idea to make them with flavored water – more specifically Clear American flavored sparkling water from Walmart. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but if it would, the flavored water would be the flavoring and there wouldn’t be a need for adding (or buying) extra flavors. I’ll give you a spoiler: it did work….deliciously!
But, let’s back up a bit. I don’t own ANY lollipop molds. So, I not only needed to buy the Clear American water, but I needed to buy candy molds and several others items. I figured this would be a easy – I thought that Walmart sold the molds, so I would pick those up when I bought the water. I wrote up a grocery list and David, Mattie, and I headed to Walmart.
Our first stop was the Halloween section. I knew I had seen Halloween and Autumn themed cake decorating supplies there, so I wonder if they would have the candy molds I needed. I did see a candy making kit, but after reading the packaging, I realized this was not what I needed for hard candy…it was for chocolate candy making. There was lots of cake decorations and I did want some Halloween colors, but I wasn’t sure yet, if I wanted these ones.
We headed over to the party and craft department, as I knew I’ve seen molds there in the past. But I wondered if they would be the right molds, since I just learned that there is a difference between the chocolate candy molds and the hard candy molds. We looked around and realized that our Walmart no longer had even the chocolate candy molds (or if they did, we couldn’t find them in their usual places). I did get the lollipop sticks and considered the treat bags for wrapping them. I decided against the treat bags because I knew I had lots of cellophane at home and thought that would look cuter for wrapping. We even stopped in the housewares area too – but no candy molds there either. I was getting worried at this point…maybe I wouldn’t be able to make them after all?
I tried my best to not be discouraged and headed over to pick out the Clear American flavored sparking water. I haven’t bought Clear American in many years – probably over 6 years. No special reason why (well, my soda drinking might be part of that reason), but boy was I surprised when I got to the aisle! There was LOTS of flavors…there definitely wasn’t this many flavors when I last bought it.
Since I was making Halloween lollipops, I thought carefully about the flavors I would buy. I ended up buying Mandarin Orange (since pumpkins and the holiday is full of “orange” colors), Fuji Apple Pear (Autumn flavors), and Apple Raspberry (thinking apples and Autumn here again – wanted another variation). David gasped when he saw that they had a Pineapple Coconut flavor…you know him with Coconut stuff. We got that one just for him.
The kids often get some sort of inexpensive “treat” or item when we shop – string cheese, yogurt, etc, and this time Mattie asked if he could get a Black Cherry bottle for himself and one for Courtney too. The price was only .68 cents, so I could definitely fit that within our shopping budget.
Got our waters – now onto the rest of our shopping!
We picked up a few of the other things we needed: tape for Mattie for a project he is working on, sugar for the lollipops, and green onions and sour cream for Courtney’s birthday dinner (chicken enchiladas).
I almost forgot to check for more candy decorations. I stopped at the baking aisle display of cake decorations to see if I could find either just orange and black decorations or a small, inexpensive container of Halloween nonpareils, but there was neither of those. I decided that I would check Target because I was pretty sure I had seen small packages of decorations in their One Spot area (the $1 section at the front of the store). Then we headed to check out with our Clear American water, sugar, and other purchases.
Since I couldn’t find the lollipop molds at Walmart, I was SURE I could find them at Michaels craft store (and I had a coupon for there). So, we headed over to Michaels next.
But…I couldn’t find any there either. Lots of chocolate candy making supplies, fondant and cake decorating supplies, and other wonderful creative goodness, but I couldn’t find any hard candy making supplies. We stopped at Target and pick up some of the Halloween confections – they weren’t $1 like I thought, but they were $2.50 in their One Spot area and I got a little assortment with 5 different decorations…just what I needed.
Without lollipop molds, I headed home, figuring that I would have to free form them, similar to this post here: Wonky Homemade Lollipops. I collected all of my supplies and got started. The first step is opening up the Clear American waters and tasting them…well, that was my first step at least. I really wanted to compare my finished lollipops to how the water tastes straight from the bottle. I tasted all the varieties I bought (except the Pineapple Coconut as that was just for David and not for my lollipops). I loved the Mandarin Orange the best, but the Fuji Apple Pear was a close second. The Apple Raspberry was good too, but was my 3rd pick. I wasn’t totally loving the Black Cherry, but that’s only because I don’t personally care for Black Cherry much – the kids loved it though. All in all, really good stuff and I like that it’s zero calories.
To make the lollipops, you will need 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of light corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of Clear American Flavored Sparkling Water of your choice.
These three things are combined in a heavy-bottomed pot. You heat them over medium-high heat, just until the sugar is dissolved.
After the sugar is dissolved, clip your candy thermometer to the side of your pan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat – without stirring – until it reaches 300 degrees F, also known at the hard crack stage. While my sugar mixture was heating, I kept thinking of what I had in my kitchen that was small enough to be used for candy molds. Then, I got an idea! I could use my mini muffin tins! I generously sprayed my mini muffin tin with cooking spray………
And then I sprinkled some of the Halloween candy confections (nonpareil decorations) into the bottoms. You can’t see it in this photo, but I also put two candy corns into the bottom of some of the tins.
I set my pan aside and waited for the sugar mixture to heat. It’s very important to keep a close watch; you don’t want to go over the 300 degrees F. When it reaches this point, turn off the heat and remove it from the burner.
Working quickly and carefully, stir in a few drop of food coloring to achieve the look you want. I decided to go with the following color/flavor combos:
- Clear American Mandarin Orange: orange coloring (created with red & yellow food color)
- Clear American Fuji Apple Pear: green coloring
- Clear American Apple Raspberry: red coloring
You definitely don’t have to follow what I did – you can mix it up and use unexpected colors with unexpected flavors – it’s Halloween, so have fun! Get creative and do what you want to do.
Still working quickly (and carefully), I spooned about 2 teaspoons or so of the hot lollipop mixture into each mini muffin tin.
Then, I added lollipop sticks to the middle of each muffin tin. When you first do this, the sticks probably won’t stand up well – it’s okay. Let the sticks fall and rest. Stay nearby because the mixture does start to cool quickly. As the mixture is cooling and thickening, keep attempting to stand the sticks upright. You’ll start to notice that they will start standing up as the mixture has cooled and thickened enough.
And eventually, all the sticks with stand upright.
After the lollipop mixture in each muffin tin is cool and hardened, you can start removing them from the tin. I found the best way to wiggle them free is to grasp the stick near the bottom, closest to the candy. Move the stick from side to side, top to bottom, and it pop free of the tin.
And, just like that, you have homemade lollipops made with flavored sparkling water!
And, yes, they do taste like the Clear American flavored water when you are done! Well, a sweeter version of the water, but you get the idea. They are super yummy! One of the things I like the best about making these was that I didn’t have to buy traditional candy flavorings (so I saved money), plus, I didn’t have to use only typical extracts like vanilla and peppermint. I think Fuji Apple Pear would have been hard to achieve, but it was really easy to get that flavor with the water I used.
I really love how these ended up looking. I wrapped the lollipops with a square piece of cellophane (which I cut from a larger roll of transparent cellophane) and tied it closed with a strip of fabric. They stand up cute on a plate or serving tray and would look great on a Halloween party table. I can’t wait to make these again – I’m already planning on the Christmas ones I will make.
Oh, and the candy corn ones look particularly great when stood upside down in a display.
Here’s the full recipe for making your own lollipops with Clear American water – feel free to print and save:
Homemade Lollipops with #ClearAmerican Flavored Sparkling Water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup Clear American Flavored Sparkling Water (any flavor – available at Walmart)
Candies or Nonpareil cake decorations (optional)
Transparent Cellophane or Clear Treat Bags
Fabric Strips, Ribbon, or Twist Ties
Mini Muffin Tin (or hard candy molds if you have them)
In a heavy bottomed pot, combine sugar, light corn syrup, and flavored water. Heat mixture over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is complete dissolved (2-3 minutes). Clip candy thermometer to inside of pot and stop stirring. Allow mixture to heat (with NO stirring) until mixture reaches 300 degrees F, also known as the hard crack stage.
While sugar mixture is heating, grease the inside of each mini muffin tin. If you wish, sprinkle the bottom of each muffin tin with nonpareil decorations or lay candy in the bottoms.
When sugar mixture has reached 300 degrees, turn heat off immediately, and remove pan from burner. Add food coloring and stir it in to achieve the color you wish.
Carefully spoon hot sugar mixture into greased mini muffin tins – a 2-3 teaspoons in each is good, however you can add as little or as much as you wish.
Place lollipop sticks into the middle of each muffin tin. Allow sticks to rest on edge of tin (without standing upright) if they won’t stand yet. Keep close watch and as mixture cools and thickens, attempt to stand the sticks upright in the middle.
When mixture is fully cooled and hardened, removed from muffin tin.
Wrap each lollipop with a treat bag or a square piece of cellophane. Keep bag or cellophane closed and secure with a strip of fabric, ribbon, or a twist tie.
I hope you enjoyed my post and that I’ve inspired you to try making homemade lollipops with flavored waters – even if you don’t have candy molds!
Disclosure: This #cBias shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias, which is a vendor for Cott Beverages Inc., the manufacturer of Clear American® brand beverages. This idea, and all thoughts and opinions, are 100% my own.