Monday, November 24, 2008

Candy Canes

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.

Lauren, Faith and Claire are reading the candy thermometer. This was a good lesson for Claire as she had never used a thermometer that wasn’t digital before.

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.


Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Overwhelmed...definitely overwhelmed!! They did a great job though!

I have to say that a dirty oven is a used oven...I'll take dirty and used over clean any day...


mary grace said...

There's a Mommy Badge-worthy project if I ever saw one!

ValleyGirl said...

Wow, you are one ambitious mommy!! Incredible! They look pretty stinkin' good for a first try and with such young helpers.

I think it's so funny that Faith wanted to swear, but couldn't think of any appropriate words! How frustrating must THAT have been?!!

Sarah said...

Wow! What a project. They look great and I'm sure they are very tasty. Now that I've seen your blog...I'm NEVER making these!


ThyHandHathProvided said...

Please tell your kids I think their candy canes look lovely. What a fun thing to try- even if you won't be doing it again:-).

mommasmurf said...

The kids are wondering why I'm laughing. :) Those look really awesome. Even if it was stressful, it's great that you tried and persevered. Our home is still in the very stressful stage with projects - too many little hands trying to help. We are painting ornaments this year and it is "fun". :)

40winkzzz said...

Thanks for posting this so we could all experience it vicariously rather than going thru it ourselves. :-)

You get LOTS of Good Mom Points for that one!

jodi said...

Wow...I have to say your willingness to tackle this project is a little intimidating to me! LOL!

I love how they turned out though.

Heather C said...

What an ambitious mommy you are! I agree... you deserve a badge... or a medal.. or something! :) What a neat memory your kids will have... LOL@Faith!

Alana said...

OH MY WORD! Those are awesome. You are officially my hero...I feel like I'm doing well when I take the time to do place and bake cookies ;-)

ocean mommy said...

They LOOK AWESOME!!!! But goodness, I'm exhausted just reading this!!!! I'm not sure I would have made it through! (I probably would have burnt the house down!)