Halloween Eve is always frantic. I’ve got a cooking project, plus costume materials to get ready, and it converges into one evening of ambitious time canoodling and usually, a pretty messy kitchen. I can’t say that this method works for everyone, but it does result in some late night productivity for me.
I live fractiously, about as close as I’ll get to dangerously. My usual “objects are closer than they appear” way of scheduling deadlines combined with deadlines that adhere to their normal pace without much concern for my existence, such as Halloween, give me enough adrenaline to spare.
So that’s why I found myself making four (five? I lost count) batches of lollipops, having never ever done so, on the evening of October 30th. Recipes written by someone else always take troubleshooting or have a learning curve, and I’d certainly discovered by 9pm that the variation in candy making techniques and measurements could not be trusted to be left in Google Search’s hands.
After much error, I think I’ve discovered a combination that works. I’ll take credit for being an example of failed batches. These skull shapes are my favorite, since the seed ends up becoming its brain, but you can use any shaped mold.
Day of the Dead Li Hing Mui and Lilikoi Pops
- 9-10 4” lollipop sticks
- 2 molds for lollipops—I used skulls, but round molds will work
- cooking spray
- 2 C sugar
- 2/3 C water
- 2/3 C light corn syrup
- 1 tsp citric acid powder
- 1/2 tsp lilikoi extract
- 9-10 li hing mui seeds (the ones with the seeds still intact look the most like brains)
- Prepare the molds by spraying lightly with the cooking spray. Place a seed in the back of the skull area and the sticks with the end sticking to the halfway point of the mold.
- Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small sauce pan and heat until boiling. Do not stir. Insert a cooking thermometer into the sugar syrup and remove the pan from the heat when it reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or alternatively, have a cup of water on the side, and when a drop of the sugar syrup into the water keeps its shape, the candy is ready. Prepare an ice bath for the saucepan when the syrup is getting close to the right temperature.
- Immediately plunge the pan into the ice bath up around 2/3 of the sides of the pan (without getting any water inside) and hold it there for 15 seconds. Stir it slightly so it cools evenly.
- Remove the pan from the ice bath as long as the candy is not bubbling any longer. Working quickly, pour in the powder and extract. Whisk together quickly until incorporated. If you don’t move quickly, you will lose a lot of the syrup to be stuck to the pan.
- Immediately pour the contents into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Pour the molten candy into the molds, being careful to put a little sheen over the seed and coat the top of the lollipop stick
- Let cool for about 20 minutes before popping them out of their molds.
*Alternatively, you can make vanilla flavored lollipops by omitting the citric acid and substituting 1 tsp vanilla extract for the lilikoi extract.
To clean the pan afterwards, and any utensils coated in sugar syrup, put everything in the pan and fill with water—simmer for a few minutes until the sugar melts.