Candy Canes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

candy canes are hard candies, or “boiled sweets,” that evoke the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmastide with their brilliant red and white stripes and sweet, peppermint, hard candy crunch.

The manufacturing process begins with the boiling of granulated sugar and water to the “hard crack” stage, around 300°F (142°C). See stages of sugar syrup. The resulting liquid takes on a strawlike color and molten consistency before being poured onto a table for cooling. When the sugar cools sufficiently to handle, it is pulled repeatedly on a taffy hook to incorporate air into the mass. While the candy is being stretched and pulled, it turns brighter and whiter, reflecting and refracting light. Flavoring, usually peppermint oil in liquid form, is now added. The batch is then rolled on the table and divided, with the candy maker sectioning off by knife or scissors a small portion of it to form the red striping. Red or another color is now kneaded into this portion of the batch, which is then left to rest while still warm. This colored portion will not be worked on the hook as long, in order to obtain a glassy translucence against the white opaque body. See food colorings.