Larry Crowe, Associated Press
Candy syrup can be poured into molds to make drops of hard candy or poured onto a cookie sheet to make candy crackle.

Despite its name, hard candy is easy to make.

While baking and craft supply shops sell all manner of equipment to make the process easier, the only essential gear beyond a saucepan is a candy thermometer.

Once made, candy syrup can be poured onto any heatproof surface. For example, create candy crackle by pouring the syrup onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Once it hardens, break it into irregular chunks.

Or pour the syrup into muffin tins (coated with cooking spray) about 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep.

To create beautiful Easter decorations, buy egg-shaped candy molds. These inexpensive plastic molds differ from chocolate molds; they can withstand the heat of molten candy syrup.

To attach ribbons for hanging hard candy decorations, reserve a few tablespoons of the syrup (keep it warm in the pan). Once your decorations have hardened, use the reserved syrup to "glue" ribbons to the back.

BASIC HARD CANDY

Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)

Makes about 3 cups of candy syrup

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup water

Food coloring

1 teaspoon (1 dram) candy flavoring

Powdered sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Without stirring, let the mixture come to a boil.

Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the syrup. When it reaches 260 F, add the food coloring. Start with a drop or two and adjust as desired. Do not stir; boiling action will mix in the color.

When the syrup reaches 300 F (about 292 F for Wasatch Front elevations), remove it from the heat. When the boiling stops, stir in the flavoring. Quickly pour the syrup into lightly oiled molds or on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let harden.

To prevent the candy from sticking, dust finished pieces with powdered sugar. Recipe from LorAnn Oils, lorannoils.com.