Making your own lollipops and hard candies can seem intimidating, but we tried two different methods to see which we preferred: one involves melted candies and the second uses sugar work and sprinkles. The first is for clear, window pain style lollies from the recipe above. Though it takes a bit more preparation work, the recipe is simple and makes a good batch of pops quickly. The trick is to have everything, including the equipment, the sprinkles and the sticks, ready to go before you start the syrup.
You'll definitely want a good, reliable candy thermometer on had for this process as the syrup must reach a specific temperature. We love this digital version that is programed with all the temps you need to know from soft ball to hard crack.
You'll also want a high-heat resistant brush to keep the sugars from crystallizing on the side of the pan. Additionally, a silpat mat, particularly the macaron version marked with circles, makes it easy to plan your sprinkles ahead so that you can quickly pour the lollipops before the syrup cools too much.
We found that the lighter edible glitters and crushed candies, like peppermint poprocks, were easier to put down first, while the larger decorative sprinkles went on easier after the syrup was poured because they can get pushed around by the force of the pour and end up all on the edges or keep the syrup from spreading uniformly. You do have to move quickly, though, so having one person to pour and one to decorate/ add the sticks is optimal.
Once the syrup has cooled and the stick is firmly in place, you can transfer the pops to a sheet of parchment to complete their cool and do a second batch as needed on the silpat.
The second method comes from one of our favorite Holiday Edibles CookBooks called Candy Aisle Crafts. You simply need a good selection of unwrapped hard candies, like Starlite Mints, Lifesavers or Jolly Ranchers, some pre-cut parchment strips and some sucker sticks.
Once you've unwrapped your candies, you can arrange them on a parchment piece and essentially just melt the candies in the oven. While the candy is hot and pliable, you insert the stick and twist until it's covered.
At this point you can use a sharp blade or scissors to cut the edges of the candies to have straight edges and angles, but here again, the secret is speed, so if you plan to shape your pops, do small batches to keep ahead of the cool-down.