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Guide to Candy Making as a Hobby




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Did you know that you can make candy at home? Candy making is a super fun and whimsical hobby, and there’s more to it than just a lot of sugar (although they are part and parcel). 

Craft a variety of top-quality sweets, including truffles, sea glass, peanut brittle, caramel, and more! 

These are perfect for gifting to friends and family – you’ll feel like Willy Wonka – as well as for enjoying yourself.

Why Make Your Own Candy?

So, what does the candy making hobby have to offer? Why make your own candy?

For Fun and Whimsy 

First off, candy making is fun, whimsical, and really enjoyable all around. It’s a tactile hobby that engages the senses, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the flavors, scents, and color. 

Whether you’re stretching homemade taffy or melting chocolate in a pot, you’re sure to have a good time making candy!

To Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

If you’re looking into candy making as a hobby, it’s probably safe to say you have a bit of a sweet tooth. If so, you’re in the right place! Whether you’re craving truffles or caramel, you can whip up your candy of choice at home in a jiffy!

So that You Can Control What’s in Your Candy

Why might you care what’s in your candy? Perhaps you are allergic to a common candy ingredient, nuts, for example. 

Lots of candy is manufactured in close contact with nuts if it does not contain the popular ingredient itself.

If you’re a vegan, you may be inconvenienced by how many candies contain gelatin, milk, or butter. 

Instead of purchasing pricey vegan alternatives at health stores or online, you can make yours affordably, and perfectly to your specifications. Never go without again on Christmas, Halloween, or Easter.

Finally, store-bought candy is full of preservatives, and some even contain wax. As you can imagine, this doesn’t do much for the texture or flavor. The quality of homemade candy is far superior. 

To Gift to Friends and Family

Few people don’t like candy, so it’s a hobby whose rewards you can share. Homemade candy makes a perfect gift that few can say no to. 

Surprise your nieces and nephews with delicious, hand-crafted stocking-stuffers, or design a creative lollipop bouquet for someone’s birthday. On Halloween, your house is sure to be one of the most popular. 

To Sell

All it takes is a bit of know-how and, of course, practice, to become a candy-making master. Once you’ve got some top-quality creations down, you can make some to sell. One of the best places to sell homemade candy is Etsy. You can also make your own website. 

The key to running a successful candy making enterprise is to make recipes that are uniquely your own. Who knows, perhaps your best-seller will be dark chocolate with hints of chili pepper.

girls making candy chocolates in the pantry

What’s Needed to Start Candy Making on Your Own?

It’s not difficult to get started making candy! All that you need are a few important ingredients, along with heaps of sugar.

What are the Most Common Ingredients? 


Surprise, the top candy making ingredient is sugar! First, good old-fashioned white sugar, followed by brown sugar. 

Oftentimes, the syrup will be made into a syrup by carefully mixing it with water. This is the sweet base for your choice of candy flavor.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is the heart of lollipops and hard-candies, giving them that ever-so-slight, toothsome chew. In nearly every hard candy recipe, it is melted with sugar and water. It’s then packed with color and flavor and ready to pour.


Some recipes, such as peanut brittle, will often ask for honey. This is a classic, mellow but sugary-sweet sweetener. Some believe it has a less intense effect on blood sugar than granulated or brown sugar. In any case, its unprocessed nature does make it a bit healthier.

Quality Cocoa Powder

What’s chocolate without cocoa? Some recipes, like truffles, require homemade chocolate. This calls for a quality cocoa powder.

A Variety of Chocolate

Sometimes, to make candy, you’ll need to invest in some chocolate from the store. You can use this for toppings, dips, or place it straight into molds.

The main candy-making chocolates are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and mint chocolate. White chocolate is uniquely easy to color and flavor. 

The very best chocolates are made with cocoa butter, but most you will find are made with milk butter. 

Pure Vanilla

What’s caramel without vanilla? This mellow flavoring can turn certain candies from ordinary to something special. Also great for peanut brittle, toffee, etc. If you can, go for the real thing rather than a vanilla imitator. 

Your Favorite Nuts

Are you a fan of nuts? Luckily for you, nuts and candy go hand-in-hand. There’s something about the salty and sweet crunch that gives candy a special savor. 

Peanut brittle, for example, calls for roasted peanuts, for a creamy, crunchy texture and rich nutty flavor. 

It’s advisable to have a variety of nuts on hand, most especially peanuts and almonds, but also any others that you like, such as cashews, walnuts, etc. They are best roasted (and generally preferably unsalted). 

Cream (Or a Vegan Alternative)

There’s nothing like cream to make a recipe, well, creamy! Cream is rich and lightweight, making candy thicker and fluffier. What more can you ask?

If you’re vegan, not to worry – coconut cream or another dairy-free alternative will also do the trick!

Butter (Or Margarine or a Vegan Alternative)

What makes the culinary world go ‘round? Butter. This versatile ingredient helps prevent candy from sticking, while infusing it with that classic, buttery flavor. Depending on what you are making, you may prefer unsalted butter. Margarine is also OK. 

Once again, if you’re vegan, never fear! As you surely know, there are heaps of delicious, dairy-free alternatives to butter. 

Candy Flavorings

What’s great candy without delicious flavors? Try apple-flavored suckers with caramel, purple punch, classic strawberry… whatever suits your fancy! 

You can even flavor white chocolate. Add some cherry flavoring, color the chocolate red with food dye, and place it in heart-shaped molds, and it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. Or make homemade toffee with subtle almond flavor. 

Don’t be afraid to play around with candy flavorings: that’s how you create a custom candy to enjoy, gift, and sell, and it’s not very expensive to replenish either flavorings or sugar. 

woman mixing ingredients for candied fruit in a bowl

What Supplies Do You Need?

A Melting Pot and a Stove Burner 

Nearly every candy recipe requires a melting pot and stove burner. This is because most involve the melting of chocolate or sugar (yum!). 

Electric stoves make it the easiest to control the temperature, and the best pots for candy making are stick-proof. 

Candy Molds

This is one of the most fun parts of candy-making: picking your molds! What shapes would you like your suckers, hard candies, and chocolates to be? 

There are countless options to choose from, like candy-canes, hearts, crescent moons, birds, stars, Christmas ornaments, and more. Gather a collection, and when the next special occasion comes around, you’ll be ready!

How do molds work? Very simply: just pour the melted chocolate or sugar candy into the molds of your choice, and then allow it to cool. 

Just like that, you’ve created your own custom-shaped candy!

Food Dyes

What’s candy without a little color? Suckers would not look nearly as appetizing if they were all left clear. Or worse, colored off-yellow or brown by added flavor. 

Instead, you’ll want to pick out a small variety of food dyes. Pro tip: get the primary colors, and you can often use them to create other colors, like green, orange, purple, etc. (you can save a bit of money this way; it’s practical).

Candy Sticks

If you’re making lollipops or suckers of any sort, you’ll need plenty of candy sticks. You can buy these online or at your local grocery or craft store. Popsicle sticks can also work OK.

Wax Paper

Once you’re an experienced candy maker, you’ll have learned the true value of waxed paper. This material is both wonderfully anti-stick, and conveniently heat-proof. 

Plastic wrap would simply melt, and tin foil would stick more easily and cause the candy to take longer to cool off. 

Before just about any recipe, you’ll want to have a pan prepped with wax paper.

A Candy Thermometer

While there are other ways to tell whether your candy is the proper temperature, it’s simpler to use a candy thermometer. 

Why is it necessary to know the exact temperature? Because temperature has a significant effect on the consistency of sugar. 

For example, sometimes you will want a fast-cooling toffee; others, you will want your candy mixture syrupy and easy to pour. 

It’s also very easy to burn sugar, which can be handily avoided with a candy thermometer.

Which Candies are the Most Popular?

chocolate candy truffles in a stainless plate

How Do You Make Decadent Truffles?

You can make quick-and-easy but extremely decadent truffles at home with a few chocolate bars, whipping cream, and butter. 

Technically, truffles are just a ganache (chocolate and cream) that has been allowed to harden in the refrigerator and topped in a chocolate shell. 

Once your truffles are hardened, you can give them a drizzle of colored white chocolate for decor.

Homemade truffles are incomparably melty, free of preservatives and wax, and full of rich, cocoa flavor.

How Do You Make Perfectly Crisp Toffees?

Toffees are without a doubt one of the most beloved candies ever. There’s something special about the crisp crunch and the rich, buttery flavor. 

Fortunately, toffee is nice and simple to make. Mainly, what’s required is a lot of whisking and close attention to the temperature. 

To start out your toffee, you will want about a cube (½ cup) of butter to 1 cup of sugar. Melt these together in a pot, stirring occasionally, to avoid burning the sugar.

Raise the stove to a medium temperature, until the mixture is bubbling enthusiastically. It’s then necessary to whisk constantly. 

What you ultimately want is a nice, golden-brown toffee, cooked just long enough to darken in color. 

Take great care not to overcook your toffee, as it will become hard and grainy. Timing is key to achieve that perfectly crisp texture. 

Finally, pour the toffee into a cake pan, on top of wax paper. Chocolate chips and crushed almonds, pretzels, or sprinkles on top are optional. Allow to cool for a few hours until perfectly crisp and enjoy!

How Do You Make Colorful Lollipops?

The key ingredients to lollipops are corn syrup and sugar. And of course, appetizing colors and a fruity flavor. These are slow-melted in a pot – always stirring – with water. 

Remove from heat, and then stir in the color and flavor. Finally, pour your liquid lollipops into molds, and bag them off. 

How Do You Make Perfectly Chewy Taffies?

To make homemade pulled taffy, you need just a few basic ingredients: granulated sugar or brown sugar, light corn syrup, evaporated milk, and – surprisingly – vinegar (there are slight variations of this recipe).

First, bring all the ingredients except the evaporated milk to a boil. Then, slowly add the evaporated milk, so it doesn’t stop it from boiling. At this point, you will need a candy thermometer. Stir constantly, maintaining the heat. Use a pastry brush to wipe any crystalized sugar residue from the side of the pot into the mixture. The taffy will be ready to remove once it has turned into a firm ball, at around 248°F. 

Gently remove it from the pan, without scraping the edges, as they will still contain some crystallized sugar. Place on a well-buttered platter.

Once the taffy has cooled enough to work with, you’ve reached the fun part: pulling the taffy. This is a process that literally involves pulling the taffy to stretch it out, repeatedly. This fills the taffy with countless, tiny air bubbles, which give the soft candy it’s fluffy, chewy texture (otherwise, it would turn out considerably harder and more brittle). 

Finally, you turn the taffy into separate ropes, give them a little twist, and chop them into separate candies. Twist them in wax paper.

brown sugar rock candy in a wooden bowl on top of the table

How Do You Make Realistic Rock Candy?

Chocolate Rock Candy

You may have seen homemade crystal rock candy before, but have you seen homemade chocolate rock candy? There are a few ways that you can go about this, with shells of either candy of powdered sugar or cocoa powder. 

The ingredients typically involve semi-sweet chocolate, marshmallows, sweetened and condensed milk, and butter. These are melted together in a pan and allowed to cool. Then, they’re ready to shape into river rocks: smooth ones perfect for skipping, round ones, etc. (it’s all very fun and whimsical). 

Crystal Rock Candy

To make true crystal rock candy, you’ll need a bit of patience; the last step takes about a week! 

The results are worth it, however: naturally grown sugar crystals that look downright magical. They have a smooth, crystalline texture, and taste like pure sugar. 

Crystal rock candy making is a fun activity for adults and kids alike, so if you want, you can include your family!

So, how do you do it? It actually couldn’t be simpler. Just melt down some sugar and water and add your choice of colorings and flavor. 

Use a funnel to pour the solution into a mason jar. Add only up to the metal ring of the jar, and suspend a candy stick, after dipping it generously, in the liquid sugar.

From here, it takes just a few days to a week for sugar crystals to develop on the stick in a cluster.

Gently break the surface of the jar, and just as gently remove the candy stick. Allow the candy to dry, and you’ve got some beautiful rock candy that looks just like a quartz crystal (or amethyst, rose quartz, etc.) cluster.

How Do You Make Realistic Sea Glass Candy?

You make sea glass candy just like you make lollipops: with melted corn syrup and sugar. Once this mixture is melted, it’s poured into separate heat-safe containers. You can make each one a different color and flavor. Next, pour onto a surface that is non-stick and heat proof. 

Once the candy is cool, break it into shards (similar to sea glass). 

To give the edges that weathered, water-smoothed look, shake them up in a bag along with some powdered sugar. Use for party favors and gifts, for selling… even as edible decor.

How Do You Make Crunchy Peanut Brittle?

Now you won’t have to rely on grandma’s seasonal supply! Ingredients, etc.

Peanut brittle consists mainly of – you guessed it – corn syrup and sugar.

Also, baking soda, nuts, and unsalted butter. The results of the recipe are just the right amount of salty and sweet, and crunchy! 

Making peanut brittle couldn’t be simpler. All that you need to do is melt the sugar and corn syrup with some water. 

You will need a candy thermometer. The mixture should become a light golden-brown, which will occur at or just below 350°F. Remove from heat and immediately add the baking soda and butter.

Add the nuts last of all and pour the liquid candy onto a pan covered in wax paper.

Allow to harden at room temperature, break into bit-sized pieces, and enjoy some crunchy, nutty homemade peanut brittle that you made yourself.

How Do You Make Super-Soft Caramel?

The primary ingredients in homemade caramel are sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter. Oftentimes, recipes also list evaporated milk. 

The instructions are simple: melt all the ingredients in a pot except for the cream or evaporated milk. Add this only once the mixture has reached a boil. 

Add the evaporated milk or cream slowly, so that it doesn’t cool the mixture off. The process is much easier if you can keep an eye on the temperature with a candy thermometer. It’s time to add the cream or evaporated milk once the mixture has reached about 350°F.

Finally, pour everything out on a cake pan covered in wax paper. Allow the caramel to cool. Then, chop it into pieces or roll it up in wax paper. You’ll soon see that, compared to store-bought caramels, homemade caramels are richer and softer. They’re sure to go quick! 

little boy holding a sweet lollipop in the park

Can Your Kids Try Candy Making?

If you’re whipping up magical sweets in the kitchen, your kids may want to join in. Depending on whether you’re looking for some alone time or not, you can invite them over. 

You will want to handle stirring the boiling sugar, but you can allow them to help you pick out the molds, colors, and flavor. They can also add sprinkles – and of course, sample your work!

Summary – Candy Making as a Hobby

Does candy making catch your fancy? It’s not hard to get started. Just gather a few supplies and find some recipes you’d like to try out. Soon you’ll have incomparable homemade sweets, free of any preservatives or waxes found in store-bought candy. 

So, in a small way, it is healthier. Above all, it’s good fun, and healthy for the soul.

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