Aunt Marceys Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

Aunt Marcey’s Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

Old fashioned hard tack candy is a holiday family favorite. The vibrant flavors and marvelous colors delight any age and makes a perfect hostess gift!

I always know that Christmas is drawing near when my sister Marcey gets into old fashioned hard tack candy mode.

She is an old fashioned hard tack candy making guru.

For as long as I can remember in the weeks leading up to Christmas, she has been like a mad scientist in her kitchen whirling around clanking cookie sheets, gathering dozens of tiny glass viles filed with a plethora of scented oils and flavorings. There are pounds of sugar, bottles of corn syrup and did I mention hammers and screw drivers?

Yes, I said hammers and screw drivers.

This year we decided to make it a family affair. My mom, my girls and I got together for a hard tack candy making extravaganza. I am now armed with pounds of colorful, brilliantly flavored candy that I have divided into sweet little Ball glass jelly jars to give as Christmas treats and hostess gifts. Thought you might like to do the same.

Here’s the skinny on how we like to make it.

You’ll need food coloring and scented vials (or drams) of oils and flavorings.

You can find them in your baking isle (some stores still keep them in the pharmacy like they did in the old fashioned days).

I just love these little vials. Aren’t they sweet?

My sister hoards them like they’re going out of style.

O.k. she shares them but she collects them all year round to insure that she’ll have enough of her favorite flavors.

There are two different types of candy & baking flavorings. There are *oils* and there are *flavorings*. We have found that you’ll need 2 of the flavoring vials and 1 of the oil vials in each batch. (With the exception of lemon…you’ll want to use 2 lemon oil vials to ensure the proper lemon-y tongue tantalizing zing).

Once you’ve got all of your flavorings and colorings in a row you’re ready to make your first batch! Remember  how I mentioned my sister being a mad scientist? While I jest…it isn’t too far from the truth. Making this candy IS a science. Which to be honest makes me break out into a cold sweat. So I’ve kidnapped my sister and all of her years-of-candy-making-trial-and-error-wisdom to help me write this post.

Grab a saucepan, a wooden spoon (not a plastic spoon) and set the stove to medium heat.

You’ll begin by pouring sugar,

light corn syrup,

and water into a pan. Next attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and make sure that it isn’t touching the bottom.

Stir constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved. Takes about 15 minutes so make sure you’re fully caffeinated before you begin.

Once sugar is completely dissolved set your spoon down and let the heat take over.

Allow mixture to come to a boil. It should look like this…

A happy rolling boil.

Watch the candy thermometer as the mixture continues to boil,

until it reaches 260°.

Then the excitement begins! Time to add some color and pizzaz.


Add one teaspoon of food coloring to the boiling pot.

Again, don’t mix with a spoon.

Let the boiling do the mixing.

Now you’ll want to pay very close attention to the temperature.

The minute you see it reach 300° it’s time to take it off the heat, (some people test the candy mixture consistency in cold water to see if it’s ready but we just go by the candy thermometer).

Now grab the flavoring or oil that you want the candy to taste like. My girls wanted to confuse the taste buds of our recipients so they mixed up the color/flavor combinations. (Yes, our lemon flavor was red).

Allow the mixture to stop boiling before adding the flavoring. Note: My sister has learned that it is imperative at this point in time to carry the pot outside before adding the flavoring to the candy mixture because it will smoke profusely (and smell divine) but be careful not to inhale the vapors. Back in college my sister’s dear friend and candy making cohort went into a full blown asthma attack AND they set off the smoke alarm. Not exactly the way they wanted to spend the day. *Hi Amy!*

Once outside add the flavoring and stir.

Isn’t that purdy?

It’s a good idea to divide and conquer while making this sweet treat. Time is everything and remember it’s a science.

While someone is mixing in the flavoring, if possible, have someone else spray the pans with cooking spray or spray them yourself beforehand so that they are ready to go. You don’t want the candy to harden in the pot.

My sister uses non-stick pots and pans for her candy making and she has found that 9 x12 cake pans work the best.

Note: You may want to use old pots and pans or buy some inexpensive ones because they do take a beating.

So quickly pour the mixture into the cake pans.

Dividing the batch into 2 cake pans insures the right thickness for your candy-eating-enjoyment.

Let the candy sit until it is completely cool on the counter top (not the fridge), to ensure that you will get a hard crack not a sticky crack.

This is where the hammer and screwdriver come in. One of my sister’s expert tips – THIS is the very best candy breaking technique and it’s FUN TOO!

Grab a clean screw driver and hammer. Take the pans of candy back outside, (trust me on this) and place the screw driver in the center of a pan…

Give it a whack!

This is very therapeutic and gratifying. Feel free to wear safety goggles for the full mad-scientist effect. Just a thought.

Continue whacking until you’ve got as many pieces as you see fit.

You will have a few flying pieces but it’s worth it.

You may need to take a little break from time to time and do a little bonding.

Nana and her granddaughters. *sniff*

Check out this gorgeous sheet of molten sugar.

Is that nifty or what?

Don’t these look like little emeralds? Seriously. I may just have to make some jewelry out of them…

but I’ll have to remember not to wear them when it’s raining.

Ignore me.

So the next step is the cerimonial coating of the candy with powdered sugar  Once again my sister has a very specific technique for this.

Grab a gallon plastic bag that zips. Vedy important. Zips and stays zipped. Write the flavor of the candy on the bag. Especially if you’ve mixed up the flavor to color combination.

Sprinkle in a heaping tablespoon, no more than a heaping tablespoon, of powdered sugar.

Then pour the broken pieces of candy into the bag.

Make sure to leave the teenie tiny pieces behind. They get sticky and messy and almost sandlike. Totally takes away from the beauty of the candy and its magical glass-like effect.

I’m sure that Chihuly would agree.

Gently roll the bag around with the bag zipped,

until you’ve got an even coating of powdered sugar on all of the pieces.

Don’t you just want to reach in and grab a handful?

Can you guess what flavor this is?

Cinnamon! HA! And it’s SO YUMMY!

I must admit that this candy making business is really enjoyable once you know what you’re doing. The flavors burst, the colors are gorgeous and it really is some great old fashioned fun.

Hope you give it a try.

Wishing you and yours a Christmas full of sweet memories!


Aunt Marcey’s Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy
Author: Wenderly | Wendy Hondroulis
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 batch
Old fashioned hard tack candy is a holiday family favorite The vibrant flavors and marvelous colors delight any age and will make a perfect holiday or hostess gift!
  • 3 3/4 sugar cups
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon food coloring
  • [i]Don’t forget: [/i]There are *oils* and there are *flavorings*. We have found that you’ll need 2 bottles if you’re using the flavorings and 1 bottle if you’re using the oils in each batch. (One or the other, not both).
  1. In a 3 quart non-stick sauce pan, pour in sugar, light corn syrup and water. Continuously stir liquid over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Let mixture come to a boil, without stirring, and when candy thermometer reaches 260° add food coloring. Once again don’t stir let food coloring mix itself into the liquid by the boiling motion.Watch the candy thermometer, once it reaches 300° immediately remove from heat and allow the boiling to come to a stop.
  2. Take pan outside and add your choice of flavorings (or oil) to the mixture. Stir without inhaling the potent vapors. Quickly pour into 2 greased cake pans, divide liquid equally into the pans. Let cool completely to the touch.
  3. Once candy is cooled, take outside and insert a clean phillips head screw driver into the center of the pan and give a good whack. Continue until all of the candy is broken to your liking.
  4. Next, grab a gallon plastic bag that zips closed. Pour a heaping (no more) tablespoon of powdered sugar into the bag. Pour both cake pans of broken candy into bag and zip closed. Make sure to leave the tiny pieces out. Gently turn and flip the bag until the candy is covered with powdered sugar. Candy will stay nice and crunchy when stored in a container that is airtight.
  5. Helpful hint: For clean-up ease, soak your pots and pans in hot soapy water to dissolve the candy because we have found that scrubbing doesn’t work.
  6. ENJOY!
  7. Note :: LorAnn Gourmet Flavoring Recipe


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  1. This looks like so much fun! I’m thinking of all the fun ways to use the candy recipe. My kids would really get a kick out of making this too.

  2. What a fabulous post! The candy looks simply delicious and the whole process of making it is quite fascinating. Wish I had a group of lovelies like you did to give it a go, maybe I will get lucky and have a sweet friend send me a Bell jar with some already made (hint, hint) LOL!!

  3. So enjoyed this post. Love that your daughters mixed up the colour/flavour combinations! What a great tutorial complete with beautiful pictures.

  4. I’m a little confused on the amount of flavoring/oils to use. I believe you said 2 flavorings or 1 oil for each batch.
    2 what? vials, tsp, tbsp? also 1 of the oils – is that 1 vial, 1 tsp, or what?

    Sorry, it doesn’t take much to confuse me, lol

    p.s. Enjoyed this post so much.

    • Hi Carol!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Sorry about the confusion. It’s 2 entire flavoring vials (bottles) or 1 entire oil vial (bottle) per batch. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  5. OK…this looks like SO much fun!!! And I LOVE all of the pictures, Wendy! From the pretty bokeh to the painted fingernails to the rolling boil. All so pretty! Love this post!

  6. This is so much fun! I have a few vials of the flavoring already. I should pick up more and make a bunch of this for Christmas with the kids.

  7. This looks like so much fun! I’m kind of sad that making hard tack candy isn’t a tradition in my family. Perhaps it’s a tradition that I should start! Loved all of your photos.

  8. Candy making has always seemed so intimidating, but you make it look like such fun! I love how your girls mixed the colors and flavors. Very cute!

  9. Merry Christmas Wenderly! What a fun thing to make!! I love traditions like this. BTW I don’t know how I forgot to do it before, but I’ve added your blog to my favorites page. Looking forward to all you have here in 2012!!

  10. If I had known you were going to make this, I would have been over there in a heart beat! My Grandma always made it when I was little, and I never learned how. How fun.

  11. This really takes me back to when I was a kid. Hardtack every Christmas! I recently found some cinnamon hardtack at a farmers market and bought up every bag they had! People today don’t realize or appreciate things like this!

  12. I’m looking at making this and I’ve been scouring for the flavors and such. The ones I find just say flavoring oils – i can’t find ones that are separate oils/flavors. For instance orange – I only find one thing. So I’m confused about what I’m supposed to be using.

    • Hi Lacy!

      First of all thanks so much for stopping by! As far as the orange flavoring oil goes, I would treat anything that has the word *oils* in it as an oil that has a stronger flavor and only use one bottle. If you find a bottle that only says *flavoring* (then it’s not as strong) and I would use 2 bottles. Anything citrus usually comes as an *oil* rather than *flavor*.

      Hope that helps! Happy candy making!

    • Hi Shelly!

      Thanks for stopping by Wenderly! I’m so excited to hear that you want to make hard tack candy for Christmas! It is so much fun! You can find the oils at most grocery stores in the pharmacy. I’ve also found them in the baking/holiday isle. Places like CVS and Walgreens should carry them as well!

      Hope that helps! Have fun!

  13. Hi!
    Looks fantastic! I might do these to my halloween party (black and orange!)
    But can you tell me how long it takes total to make these and it says “3 3/4 sugar”, What is the unit of that (liter, kilograms..)

  14. Great fun! What happens if you pour the hot candy onto a piece of wax paper in a pan? Does that make it easier to lift the candy out and then shatter it, so as to save the life of the pan, or does the wax paper just end up sticking to everything?

    • Hi Emily!

      I’ve never tried to pour the hot candy onto wax paper, but I would guess that it would melt. I would just find a cheap pan (that you could reuse) from the Dollar Store or even a thrift shop and pour the candy straight onto the pan.

      Thanks for stopping by! Happy candy making!

  15. I make hard candy every holiday. This year I saw the gel food colors. I know that you don’t have to use as much to get the desired color for icing. Can these be used for hard candy also?

    • Hi Angi!

      I’ve never tried gel food colors with hard tack candy! If you try them, let me know how they work!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. If you will put a sheet of wax paper over the top of the candy just after you pour it in the pan and press a chop stick into it you can make uniform pieces that will crack the same size. Then put the pieces into the bag with powdered sugar and roll around. HTH!

  17. Beautiful pictures, a really nice story of a family gathering and a nice idea of making this candy. Thank you so much for giving me this smile while reading!

  18. A candy thermometer is very important in this recipe. Yikes! Didn’t go well with us. It looks like molasses and smells, not good. But the experience was enlightening! Now on to wine!

  19. We have made this recipe for years and found that if you sprinkle the candy with powdered sugar when it becomes cool enough to handle, you can cut it into squares and then use kitchen scissors to cut it into smaller pieces, it looks very much like sea glass and is beautiful in a jar. It will still be quite warm so definitely not something children should handle.

  20. I made this yesterday. It was real easy to make. But, the problem with it is you can’t bite into it. It is hard, but if you bite it, it sticks to your teeth really bad! You could pull a tooth out, seriously! The flavor is good, the hard texture is good, but DON’T BITE IT! Is there something I’m doing wrong in the cooking process?

    • Hi Shannon!

      Thanks for stopping by! You are so right about the candy being sticky and perhaps pulling out a tooth!!! We have had that same thing happen many times! The problem is that you have not cooked the candy long enough for it to get to the *hard tack* or *hard crack* stage. You want the candy thermometer to reach 300 degrees and then a good way to test it is, spoon a drop of syrup into cold water and if it makes hard, brittle threads it is ready! Just taste it to make sure that it is brittle and has a crunch. This is a very delicate process and it takes practice & patience!

      Hope the helps! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  21. My son and I just finished 8 batches of your hard candy recipe and love it! I have collected sea glass all my life having grown up in Hawaii. Now living in Austin, Texas, I have missed the pleasure of hunting for the perfect pieces for my collection. Everyone knows me as a landlocked ocean freak, so this will make the perfect xmas gift from me to my dear friends. I got a little crazy I must admit. While the candy was still bendable I curved the edges and rolled sections to make them look like the rolled edges of bottles. It worked great! My candy looks so much like sea glass I don’t want to eat it 🙂 Thank you so much. We really enjoyed ourselves and have a new family tradition.

  22. Hi
    I made the candy and it burned. How do you prevent it from burning? How long does it take to reach 300 degrees? I had the heat on medium. It all hardened nicely but it tasted burnt. Help!

    • Hi Kathy!

      So glad you tried the candy! I have a couple suggestions…first of all to answer your question this is a delicate process and we’ve burned many, many batches! It takes a good while to reach 300 degrees, about 30-45 minutes. With that being said, sometimes a pan makes the difference, if it’s too thin we have found that the candy seems to burn every time. Another problem can be that your candy thermometer is old and not perfectly precise with the temperature. Lastly, remember that the *very* moment you see the thermometer say 300 you must *immediately* remove the pan from the burner!

      Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!

        • Remember to always test your candy thermometer, also. Boil water and see if your thermometer registers it at 212°. If not, simply add or subtract the corresponding number of degrees in the recipe. For instance, if your thermometer reads 205°, subtract 7° from the recipe. Your hard tack would then be ready at 293°. It is definitely a science! Good luck!

  23. I wanted to share a tip I learned a few years back. Instead of pouring the candy in a pan, take a large jelly roll and a nd put a bag of powdered sugar in the bottom. Gently spread it out. Then taking your fingers; make ditches in the sugar. Now when the candy is ready, pour it in the ditches. When it cools you can break it into small squares…

  24. Hi! I love the pictures you have of the process! I have been making candy like this for awhile too but lately I have had trouble finding flavorings for the candy, any advice on good places to stock up through the year? This would be a good idea for me since I have used all I had left!

    • At Walmart, I found it in the craft section, but they didn’t have a very large variety. I had better luck on eBay! Lorann oils in almost any candy flavor you could want!

  25. Hi, just dropping by to ask a quick question. My candy is turning out beautifully as far as look and texture but my taste is plain like sugar. I am using wilton oils and larger vials than the loranne vials but all the same even when dumping the whole vial in it is tastless. I made sure they are oil not flavoring but I am not sure what else I might be able to do to make the flavors zing.

    • Hi Heather!

      I must admit that you have stumped me! I can’t imagine why an *oil* wouldn’t be giving you flavor? Perhaps you should check the Wilton website to see if they are good for flavoring candy? And when in doubt, go to your local pharmacy to see if they have the Lorann oils…they do the trick every time!

      Good luck!And thanks so much for stopping by!

  26. Hi I have the Lorann flavor oils is it just one of these bottles per batch or 2 I got confused because it says flavorings use 2 bottles oils use 1 bottle but those handy little Lorann bottles say oil flavorings…

    • Hi Marcy!

      It can be confusing! We have found that we only need 1 bottle of the oil to sufficiently flavor the candy. So if you have the Lorann *oil* flavorings 1 bottle will do!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  27. Thank you sooo much for posting the hard candy recipe!! I have been searching for this recipe forever. My mother and I made this candy as christmas gifts. It was the best time that I can remember with her. She passed away when I was ten and I never made it again. I can now start a new traditions with my family. Thank you for your posting, it sounds silly but that memory of making hard candy has never left me, I have always keep it close to my heart especially around christmas.

  28. Yay for hard candy! I love making this stuff. We’ve made cinnamon hard candy this way for years. That whole take the mix outdoors before you add the essential oils is VITAL. My husband gave me a cinnamon oil facial one year because he turned a fan on just as I was adding the oil. Some of it vaporized, got into pores of my skin and my face peeled for a week. It was awful. Only happened once though. And he is banned from my kitchen during candy making now.

    Lorann is wonderful for flavored oils. Walmarts usually have a small hanging display of 2 packs of the 1 dram bottles in the months leading up to Christmas. You can also find flavors you didn’t even dream of year round at confection supply shops. And yes, you can get good cinnamon and peppermint oils at a pharmacy that is willing to order it for you. My mom and pop pharmacy used to special order in large bottles of Humco brand dirt cheap.

    Also be sure to warn people that the candy will have very sharp edges. We all learned it as kids, but it’s amazing how many adults don’t seem to grasp the concept, grab a handful and try to chew it.

  29. Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!

  30. I love this post!!!!!!! But how much sugar, corn syrup, and water are you supposed to use?

  31. We made this every year (my in-laws tradition…I married in). But now we eat differently and I hate using corn syrup (or artificial colors or flavors). Has anyone ever made this with anything else (like honey) or with more natural colors or flavors? I may have to experiment this year.

    Also, thought I would share my husband’s family’s technique. They snip it instead of set it and break it. They pour it onto a greases cookie sheet and wait for it to cool just a bit (till it will at least sort of hold a shape when you snip a piece off). Then grease up your fingers and start snipping with kitchen shears….putting the cut pieces into a bowl of powdered sugar as you go. One person just tosses the powdered pieces around a bowl so as it cools so the pieces don’t stick together. But the end results are pieces that are little and NOT SHARP, which is nice because you can just pop one into your mouth and suck on it, rather than get sticky fingers.

    Hoping this winter I can find an alternative that is still sweet and wonderful but has a little less artificial stuff in it. I am not looking for health food, just a slight improvement!! But the family memories of making hard tack candy are always fun!

    • Colleen, I don’t know if you’re still looking for this information since it’s been a few months from when you asked, but I can provide you with an ebook collection of vintage candy recipes, and you bet there’s natural colorings in all of those recipes and honey in some. I’ve used honey as a substitute often for corn syrup in these types of recipes, but you can also use golden syrup which can just as easily be made with raw organic sugar instead of white sugar. My email is [email protected]

  32. Hi,…..reading all of your wonderful candy recipes,….and I do mean delicious recipes,….I have a question and please, could someone be kind enough to get back to me,….I would be so appreciative.
    Here it goes,…I want to make hard candy, but here’s the twist,….take a product like ‘sweet condensed milk’, but it’s a creamy product,….what do I need to do, or what do I need to add to this product, to make it a hard candy. Matter of fact,….any creamy product,….what would be the steps to make this a delicious hard candy?…Thanks for any and all help with this,…..Maxie

    • Hi Maxie!

      Oh my goodness that’s a very good question! I’m so sorry but I honestly have no idea how a creamy product would work with hard tack candy! I’m so sorry that I can’t be of any help here!

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

  33. wonderful post. question – what is the quantity of the flavor/oil vials?

    i’m generally a xmas cookie gift giver, but am prepping to go candy this year. figured September was a good time to start thinking about it. how far in advance can the candy be made do you think?

    • We have found that you’ll need 2 bottles if you’re using the flavorings and 1 bottle if you’re using the oils in each batch. I’m not exactly sure how long the candy will last (ours disappears quickly). But I would imagine if stored in a cool, dark, moist-free place (not in the fridge) that it can easily last a few months.

  34. I make the same candy, but my recipe says to sprinkle powdered sugar on the pan before you start. When it cools, invert the pan and tap with something like the handle of a regular knife. You can score it with a pizza cutter before it completely sets up and it will be in squares. Putting powdered sugar in the pan before you start would eliminate the step of shaking the candy in a bag because the sugar usually gets all over the candy. Hope this helps.

  35. Used to make this with my mum, she passed this June. I cant get ANY flavor in my candy!! I have used to bottles of flavor! Followed this recipe to the tee! PLEASE HELP!:((((

    • Hi Kristen!

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom. And I’m sorry that you aren’t having any luck with the flavorings! Usually 2 bottles of flavors works for us. But maybe you should try using the bottles marked as *oils*. They are much stronger and have always done the trick.

      I hope this helps!

  36. Ok, so I did the Orange oil, two drams even! I only got a bit of flavor!? Im pulling my hair out 🙁 Am I supposed to let the mixture cool a bit before I add the flavor?? I have NO IDEA what Im doing wrong. Im using granulted sugar, and KARO and Lorann flavors? This is killing me. it looks and smells beautiful! uuugggghhhhh

    • Oh my goodness Kristen! I’m stumped! I’ve never had that problem before! You’re using all the right ingredients! We don’t let the mixture cool before adding the flavor but maybe give that a try? And maybe you could talk to the store that your purchased the oils from to make sure that they’re not old? That’s the only thing I can think of to try. I hope that you have success soon! 🙂

      • For citrus flavors (orange, lemon) add a half teaspoon of citric acid as you add the flavoring/oil. This will make the flavor pop.

        You can buy it by the bottle in most places that sell the flavorings.

  37. im sorry, still not clear on how much flavoring or oil to use….. you have to make is very simple for me!!~! how many ounces are the bottles, etc. thanks

    • Hi Beth!

      The LorAnn bottles that I use (they call them a dram) are, 0.125 ounces. I use 2 of the bottles for the drams marked *flavorings* and I use 1 bottle if the dram is marked *oils*. Hope that helps!

  38. Love your recipe 🙂 It is exact to my Gram’s *But with pictures* 🙂 Pictures make the little kids more apt to “cook along” with me!!
    My question/problem is with cinnamon (I am using flavor not oil)
    I put in 2!! but it doesn’t taste good at all!! I’ve thrown out to batches so far (all my other flavors turn out great) any tricks with the cinnamon?

    PS…. sure is cold in West Virginia today! Going outside to add my cinnamon and peppermint is BBRRRrrrrrrrrrrrr (lol)

    • Hi JoLyn!

      What a delightful thing to be doing whilst it’s cold and blustery outside (except for the part where you go outside!) 🙂

      I have had trouble with cinnamon in the past as well. I like my cinnamon to be VERY cinnamon-y! So for that very reason I always use the *oils* rather than the *flavorings* for cinnamon.

      Hope that helps! Stay warm!

      Wishing you & yours a very happy holiday season!

  39. Has anyone done extract instead of oils? I accidentally bought them instead of oils this weekend at walmart and we live about an hour from walmart so I can’t really go return/exchange. I have read mixed reviews on other recipe sites and I was just curious as to your thoughts!

  40. My Mom is getting ready to make cinnamon, anise, peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen. She is wanting to know what colors should she make each flavor. She is giving them to other people and wants to have kind of a universal thing of if they see a red piece they know its cinnamon. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Vicki!

      As you can tell from my post, my girls wanted to make the colors *not* match the flavor! But usually we try to actually match the flavor with a color. It’s really a personal preference thing but this is what we like to do when we are actually matching…

      *cinnamon – red
      *anise – yellow
      *peppermint – blue
      *spearmint – green
      *wintergreen – aqua

      Hope that helps!! Merry Merry!

  41. I stumbled upon your AWESOME website thru Pinterest. This is a perfect demonstration of how to make hard tack candy. The steps that you outline with pictures makes this project fun and do-able for candy makers of all levels. So far, I’ve made 4 batches of this candy over the past 2 months and each batch turned out perfect. You are correct, patience is the key with making this (and all) candies. One tip that my mom and grandma used to do is to pour the candy out on a greased marble cutting board and to cut the candy *while it is still hot* with a pizza cutter. That way, there aren’t so many small shards that go to waste. Excellent post! I’ll continue to use and share your website. Thank you again!

  42. You said “We have found that you’ll need 2 of the flavoring vials and 1 of the oil vials in each batch.”

    Are you suggesting that folks put in three drams per batch? That seems a bit of overkill.

    • Hi George!

      And no! I am not suggesting both!! But rather one OR the other!! Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll have to change that sentence!

  43. I tried making this tonight and followed the instructions I just don’t know what I did wrong, I’ve tried this candy before but never made it until now but mine kinda sticks to your teeth, should I let it sit a little longer? Help!! LOL and thanks for the recipe.

    • That happens sometimes to me too. If the temp isn’t just right at the hard tack temp things can go wrong. (I’ve also noticed that the weather and humidity outside can affect the outcome). It really is a science. Don’t give up though! The more you make it the better you’ll get at reading the candy! Happy Holidays!

  44. Just a trick that I’d like to share….we use the aluminum throw away pans
    spray with pan then pour in
    once it has firmed up just SLIGHTLY (you can check my taking the tip of a knife and gently lift the corner) then cut it with scissors, yes this really does work well. I just take my kitchen scissors and cut them then drop the pcs in a bowl of powdered sugar and the next person kinda rolls them slightly to smooth the edges then drops them into a colander that has a plate under it and when I’m done shake off the powdered sugar and put into another bowl. The powdered sugar prevents them from sticking. MUCH easier with scissors though. Great recipe and lots of fun. I have several children so it’s an assembly line here!! Merry Christmas everyone and happy candy making!!!

  45. i made horehound hard tack with only honey and this morning they had shrunk and stuck together any thoughts?

    • Hi Laurene!

      The horehound hard tack with honey sounds wonderful! I’ve never done that before so I’m sorry but I don’t know what to suggest! Good luck and Happy Holidays!

  46. Is my candy safe to eat? I made candy using oil of wintergreen, methyl salicylate nf. I read the bottle only after I finished and poured it in the pans and noticed the oil had separated and was floating on the candy. The bottle says not for internal use. I used Humco Wintergreen oil.

  47. I am from Pennsylvania and have made hard tack candy with my family for 40 years. It’s our holiday tradition. I like your technique of breaking it, we cut each piece and it is very labor intensive. The way I was taught was to fill several cookie sheets (the ones with edges aka jelly roll pans) with powdered sugar, level it flat, then with your index finger make close lines of tunnels. This is where we pour the hot mixture to form ropes. When slightly cooled it is then cut into small pieces. We place the cut pieces into a colander and shake off the excess when completely cooled. Everyone’s hands are sore afterwards and usually a few blisters and one burn among us. May have to try your technique, but I do worry about sharp edges?

    • As long as your careful while putting the candy in your mouth you should be ok. I’ve just poked the inside of my mouth a time or two, and surprisingly, not all of the pieces have sharp edges. 🙂 Loved hearing your story! Thanks for sharing Patty!

  48. Great instruction! Thank you. I’m wondering about making a a 4″x 3″ cube. Not to eat but for decoration. (A Sorcerer’s Stone actually). I thought if I could make a block of this candy, then chip away the edges with a hammer then it would look like the one in the movie. Any advice? Will it work if I pour it into a small bread loaf pan and let it cool?

    • Hi Teri!

      I’ve never tried that! Sounds like fun! Make sure that the loaf pan is non-stick and report back about how it turned out! 🙂

  49. Hi. I made this tonight & as soon as I added the food coloring, it started to “burn”. I mean it stunk! Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Lisa! I’m sorry to heart that! A few things I can think of are, maybe the mixture was too hot when you added the coloring…did you wait until the temp got to 260º? And make sure not to stir the mixture, the boiling mixes in the color. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks. I did wait until it was 260 and sisn’t stir. I found some other posts elsewhere and I am thinking my pot was too thin. Planning on trying again in another pot. Thanks for responding & I am NOT giving up.

  50. The amounts that indicate how much sugar, corn syrup, and such to use in a batch don’t seem to be appearing when I load the page. Can you share in a comment with me what they are? I would love to be able to make some for the holiday season!

    • Hi Ashley!

      The recipe is all fixed now, thanks so much for brining that to my attention!! My recipe card plugin is acting funny right now we’re working on fixing it. Let me know how your candy turns out!

        • I made a batch of raspberry yesterday and am working on watermelon today. It turned out so well yesterday. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us all!

          • I’m guessing that There must be an inconsistency with the temperature. Make sure it reaches 260 degrees before adding the coloring and then let the boiling do the mixing. Make sure that you watch the thermometer carefully until it reaches 300 degrees, then remove from heat immediately and take to a well ventilated area, and wait for it to stop boiling before you add the flavoring. This candy making is really a science! Any variation can make it turn out incorrectly. Good luck to you Teresa!

  51. When my son was growing up, I was raising him alone. When it came time to get teachers’ gifts and work gifts, I was always low on cash. One year I decided to make this candy to give as gifts. From that year forward, everyone requested that their gift be this candy and it became a tradition to make it at Christmas and my weeks before Christmas were exactly as you described your sister’s! Several years back, my son being now grown and with his own house, I decided to give up the candy making, not thinking it really mattered to anyone anymore. My son could not believe I was not going to make it anymore. He enjoyed it so much, he decided to take up the tradition and carry it forward. Now each year I “help” him make it to give to everyone he knows (they now bring their jars back to him each year for him to refill!). It was so heartwarming to realize how much it had meant to him and the special times we had had all those years with the candy making process. Now we make it a big family affair with everyone joining in, including my son’s girlfriend and her family!

    • What a beautiful story Arlene! These traditions that blossom from a small sentiment into an ongoing tradition are the things that stay with each one of us always. Thanks so much for sharing! Merry Christmas to you & your family!

  52. Those leftover tiny pieces would be perfect for making Stained Glass Cookies — another wonderful and pretty gift, and no waste (plus I bet Chihuly would approve!)

  53. I am trying to figure out a way to shape the hard candy by using a candy mold – is this possible – what kind of candy mold to use – silicone?

    • Yes! As far as I know silicone should be ok to use. Remember to spray a non-stick spray in molds first to help them pop out easily. Have fun!!

  54. Hi quick question. I am wanting to include this candy on a candy buffet, but there is a slight problem…all the candy is going to be white(or clear). Have you ever made it without using food coloring? If so, did it turn out looking ok? If not, do you think it would turn out looking ok? Thanks!!!

    • Hi Laura,

      White hard tack candy sounds gorgeous! I’ve never made it with out food coloring so I’m not certain if that would make a difference or not. However, I do know that there is such a thing as white food coloring. I’ve seen some at JoAnn Fabrics before. I would imagine that using white food coloring and then the powdered sugar coating at the end would make a beautiful candy! I’ll be curious to hear about the end result! Let me know what happens! 🙂

      • Oh good, I had no clue that they have white food coloring. A dear friend of the family has always made this candy for us. I am going to ask her to make some for our wedding candy bar. I am so not a baker/candy maker.Thank you so much for the suggestion!!

  55. Hey Wenderly I was wondering if you could tell me the trick to making butterscotch hard tack candy

    • Hi Angela!

      I’ve never made butterscotch hard tack candy! But boy does it sound divine! Sorry I can’t be of any help. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  56. How do you make “HOT” cinnamon hard tack? I have tried using two drams but still can’t get the burn in your mouth hot and spicy kind thank want. Please help.

    • Hi Andrea,

      I’ve never made a *hot* cinnamon hard tack candy so I’m not sure what to tell you as far as how to get that awesome spicy burn. So sorry. Good luck and let me know if you have any breakthroughs!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  57. Hi I have made several batches of the hard candy with no problems. Well today I used the recipe for a double batch that comes with the candy flavors and it will not get hard. What did I do wrong?

  58. Love hard tack, I hate the shards of glass! I have tried different options but the best so far are the jewel molds that lorann sells.

  59. […] Christmas candy comes in an unending variety of colours, shapes, sizes, textures and flavours.  Clearly red, white and green are the most popular colours as well as peppermint being one of the most popular flavours.  If you feel adventurous, why don’t you give candy making a try.  Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy […]

  60. I’m doing a FRAGGLE ROCK theme birthday party and am making this candy to look like crystals. Will it get too sticky if I don’t use powdered sugar?

  61. Thank you so much for the beautiful story and pictures, as well as the recipe! You gave me inspiration, and I have made two batches of candy in two days. 🙂
    Just one question. I don’t have a kitchen scale, and was wondering if you know how much a batch of the candy weighs?

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the hard tack candy experience!! I’m sorry I don’t know how much a batch weighs.

  62. I noticed a lot of confusion about how much oil or flavoring to put in. It’s 1 dram in each lorann bottle with is equivalent to 3/4 tsp of the lorann oil so 3/4 tsp of oil, or 1 1/2 tsp of flavoring. Hope that helps i looked up the conversion to help make it easier. You may want to edit your recipe to include the conversion just in case people have big bottles of flavoring/oil.

  63. I’ve made this recipe every Christmas for the past 4 years and it is amazing. I follow the recipe exactly – it is super easy and failsafe! Our favorite flavors are definitely cinnamon and lemon. It reminds me of the hard tack candy we used to buy at Christmas church bazaars when I was a kid 35 years ago. Yumm!

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