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Nonstick cooking spray
2/3 c. water
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cream of tartar
About 40 lollipop sticks
2 large baking sheets
A medium saucepan
A wooden spoon
A candy thermometer
An ice bath
Clear or colored wrappers
Ribbon or string
Lollipop molds to hold 30 to 40 small pops (optional)
A glass of ice water (optional)
A few drops of food coloring (optional)
1/2 tsp. flavor extract (optional)
Warning: Use caution when working with hot candy syrup. Children should be supervised at all times.
Step 1: Prepare the molds
If you're using molds, spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Place the lollipop sticks inside the molds, and put them on the baking sheets. Otherwise, spray the baking sheets directly.
Step 2: Dissolve the sugar
Add the water, sugar, and cream of tartar to a saucepan, and heat the mixture on medium. Stir the mix until the sugar dissolves.
Step 3: Heat the syrup
Turn up the burner to high, and boil the mixture for about 10 minutes, until it turns amber in color. Do not stir. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer. The syrup should reach 300 degrees.
Tip: If you don't have a thermometer, spoon a drop of syrup into a glass of ice-cold water. If, after five seconds, it forms easily breakable threads, it's ready.
Step 4: Color and flavor
Remove the saucepan from heat and dunk the bottom in a bowl of ice and water to stop cooking. Quickly stir in coloring and flavoring if you're using them. If not, don't worry—plain lollipops are tasty, too.
Step 5: Form lollipops
With a teaspoon, fill the lollipop molds. If you're not using them, pour a 2-inch pool of syrup directly onto the baking sheets, and put a lollipop stick in it. Repeat across each baking sheet. Work quickly; if the mixture gets too thick to pour easily, return it to the stove and heat it briefly to thin it out.
Step 6: Cool
Let the pops cool for at least 15 minutes before removing them from the molds or using a spatula to pry them from the baking sheet. They're ready to eat!
Tip: If you've got syrup left over after filling the molds, reheat it in the saucepan and pour it over ice cream for a candy-coated treat.
Step 7: Wrap
Package your lollipops in clear or colored wrappers. Tie each with a ribbon or string.