What is molasses candy?

Molasses being poured from a spoon.

Molasses candy is any candy made with molasses. Typically considered an old-fashioned candy, molasses candy recipes are most often found in classic cookbooks, but modern recipes are also available. Usually a hard candy, it can also be made into bars or kisses. Some modern recipes produce more spongy treats.

In addition to molasses, this candy is usually made with butter and corn syrup. Sugar and baking soda are also commonly included. Cider vinegar, honey or cream of tartar can also be added. For sponge candy, soft molasses and unsalted butter are used instead of the hard candy alternatives. Real butter, with or without salt, should always be used with molasses candies.

Some molasses candy recipes include honey as an ingredient.

To make these candies, you need a candy thermometer. When making hard candy, in particular, cooking times are determined by the temperature of the heated ingredients. Depending on the recipe and the exact type of treat, the ingredients can reach between 245 and 295°F (118–146°C), so great care must be taken not to touch the mixture directly while cooking.

A candy thermometer is needed when making molasses candy.

Sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar or cream of tartar are often combined in a pan and heated. The mixture is stirred until it reaches a certain temperature. Then the molasses and butter are added and cooked until it reaches another set temperature. Baking soda is added after the candy mixture is removed from the heat. It is usually sieved over the syrupy mixture and then whisked to combine.

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Some recipes may suggest adding all the ingredients at once. This is usually true for recipes that use a sweetening agent that doesn’t need to be dissolved, for example honey instead of sugar. Since no new ingredients are added after a certain temperature is reached, the syrup only needs to reach a single temperature before it is completely ready.

The candies can be pulled out once cooled enough to handle or poured into a buttered baking dish and allowed to cool completely. If pulled, fingers or hands should be coated with butter or flour before working with the candy to prevent it from sticking. After the molasses candy is pulled into strings, it can be cut into pieces. Otherwise, it may be broken or cut after cooling. Once cut, the pieces can be wrapped in candy wrappers or wax paper.

Pulling the candy should be done quickly, while it is still flexible. Candy makers should always wait until it cools down enough to handle, or they can easily burn their fingers or hands. The finished molasses candy is usually a tan color.

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