We’ve moved into high gear with our Christmas preparations. The kids are at the age where projects are fun instead of stressful. Usually. We learned quite a bit from today’s project but I doubt we’ll repeat it. It’s never a good thing to be wishing you were done instead of only at the halfway point. We made candy canes to decorate our Christmas tree. Not the pipe cleaner-done in three minutes kind. We made the boil the sugar- stretch the candy- twist into ropes kind. Oooooh.
We used this recipe. Here’s our photographic evidence that I was foolish enough to attempt this with a small herd of kids.
Once the sugar was ready I added concentrated food paste to one of the batches. This paste is neat stuff. It makes vivid colors. I like to use it when I make playdough. You can find it in the craft section at Wal-Mart in the cake-decorating aisle. I added about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of red and a smidge of black to make a rich red color.
I poured the sugar mixture onto a couple of cookie sheets and let it cool briefly before beginning to stretch it like taffy. If you are more inspired than overwhelmed by this post be sure to oil the pans and your gloves! This stuff is sticky!
Once the mixture was cool enough to handle, the children helped me stretch it.
It hardens quickly so I ended up putting it in the oven on the lowest setting.
I left the door open and the children used teaspoons to scoop off a portion and then twisted it into a candy cane length rope. They went back to the oven scooped out the other color and twisted a second rope and then twisted the two ropes together and bent it into a candy cane shape.
Our oven took a beating as the children helped themselves. Oh well. The red gook will harden and turn black just like the rest of the ingredients on the oven floor.
Often the candy hardened before the kids were done with the candy cane they were working on. “I feel like swearing…” Faith grumbled in frustration. “…if only I knew any swear words.”
Here is John, the founder and manager of the candy cane hospital. He discovered that he could melt a bit of candy in the microwave and dip the two broken ends into the melted goo and repair the damage.
There were tears a couple of times, never a good thing for a fun family project so we won’t be repeating this one again. On the plus side, the kids put so much effort into constructing these decorations I doubt any of them will be tempted to snitch one off the tree.