Sundays can either be hectic or relaxing around our house. We started out running late this morning, but we decided to just embrace it and not rush which actually made for a pleasant morning. After church and naps it was time for our advent activity of the day.
We started out with Tyson reading our scripture passage to the kids. Today's scripture came from Matthew 5:1-16, the Sermon on the Mount.
For our activity we did our first bit of candy making for the month, homemade candy canes. It seems like a scary job, even for me who grew up in a home where we always made candy for Christmas. But they really aren't that complicated, but they do take some logistical planning (ie: read the instructions fully before starting, set everything out, and have an extra set of adult hands there to help) but they really are doable and a lot of fun for the kids. The recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.
Of course we started by mom boiling sugar. Nothing too exciting, just staring at a candy thermometer, but it is important.
Also the entire process that comes afterwards, like coloring the candy, stretching it like taffy, making the log, that is also a grown-up (or older child) job. While I worked on that part at the counter the kids coated the kitchen table with powdered sugar to prepare it for shaping the candy canes.
We brought them over segments that had been cut and they shaped them into the traditional canes as well as other shapes. Charlotte was very focused on her work, even her face was coated in powdered sugar.
It might seem like the little ones don't get to do much since almost all of the work is adult prep, but they really do enjoy shaping the candy and making their own treats.
They were really proud of what they helped to make.
Gideon wanted to climb all over the table to we made him the official taste-tester instead which kept us all happy.
Found at whirlybirdblog.com
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring (or any other flavor that you choose)
You will also need a candy thermometer, latex gloves, non-stick spray, and fitted knit gloves.
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees before you start. This is in case the candy hardens on you while you are still working it. You can always set it on a pan in the oven for a few minutes to make it pliable again.
Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tarted in a sauce pan and mix until sugar is mostly dissolved.
Cook on medium-high heat until it reached 280 degrees, or soft-crack. Do not stir.
Pour globs of mixture onto oiled sheet pans, one for each color that you plan to use (I used three, one each for white, red, and green). I also like to put some Pam spray on the pans. I find that it is better for non-stick than plain oil. Pour 1/2 tsp. of flavoring on each glob as well as food coloring for the mom-white pieces.
Put on your knit gloves and then put your latex gloves over the top of them. You need to work the candy with your hands and it will be too hot unless you have the knit gloves on under the latex. Once on I also spray my latex gloves with Pam spray so that they don't get sticky.
With an oiled Teflon or silicon spatula, gently lift the edges of the candy, folding it over itself a few times. Scrape it off the pan, and start working it with your hands. Like taffy, you stretch and pull and form it into ropes. The more you work it the lighter the color becomes, so if you are making white, you will have to work a little longer on the uncolored portion until it turns from yellow to white. However, if you are working on a colored section, don't pull it too much or the color will fade.
After you have formed 8" ropes of each desired color, it is time to form a log. Set the main color (in our case white, the largest section) on an oiled surface. Press the remaining colors onto each side of the log. When you press and rub the ropes with your hands, they should melt into one smooth log.
Working on one end, gently pull the candy outward, twisting to form the striped candy cane pattern. This part is a little tricky and takes a bit of hand strength. That little log will make a lot of candy canes as you stretch, much more than you anticipate.
When you have pulled a section of your desired thickness, cut the rope and shape into a cane. Set aside on a surface dusted with powdered sugar to keep the canes from sticking. Repeat this process until you run out of candy.
Allow the candy to set overnight to cure completely.