Ribbon candy is an old-fashioned favorite! The beautiful shape and coloring of this classic candy may give the impression that you can't make it at home. Not true!
Ribbon candy starts the way many hard candies start--with a simple sugar syrup. After boiling the sugar, the candy is pulled (like taffy, or candy canes) and then colored and flavored. Be warned that pulling candies can be tricky the first time, so be prepared to have some “special” ribbons on your first attempt. If you have never pulled candy before, check out the step-by-step photo instructions showing how to pull candy.
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
- A few drops of green and red food coloring
- Plastic gloves
1. Prepare four cookie sheets by spraying them with nonstick cooking spray or covering them with a light layer of oil. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and continue cooking without stirring until the candy reaches 285 (soft-crack stage).
3. Once the proper temperature is reached, remove the candy from the heat immediately and stir in the mint extract. Pour one-third of the mixture onto a prepared cookie sheet and place it in the preheated oven to stay warm. Pour another third onto a second sheet and sprinkle the green food coloring on top. Place this sheet in the oven as well.
4. Add red food coloring to the remaining candy. Pour the candy out onto a marble slab or heat-safe cutting board. Allow it to sit briefly until it forms a “skin.”
5. Spray a bench scraper or heat-safe spatula with nonstick cooking spray, and use the tool to begin spreading the candy out and pushing it back together, working it across the board and allowing it to cool. Don’t forget to check out the instructions showing how to pull candy if you get confused about the process.
6. As soon as the candy is cool enough to handle (but still quite hot), begin to pull it. If you have plastic gloves, put them on and spray the gloves with nonstick cooking spray—this will help prevent overheated or burned hands. Take the candy in both hands and pull the hands in opposite directions, stretching the candy into a long rope. Bring the ends of the strands together and twist the candy into a rope, then pull the rope out into a long strand. Continue to twist and pull the candy until it has a satin-like finish and is an opaque red color. Once the candy is still pliable but barely warm, pull it into a strand about 2” thick, and place it on the remaining prepared baking sheet. Put this sheet back into the oven, and remove the baking sheet with the uncolored candy syrup. The pulled candy will remain pliable in the warm oven while you work the second portion.
7. Repeat the pulling procedure with the second, clear portion of candy. At the end, the candy should be a pearly white color. Form it into a log 2” in diameter, just like the red candy.
8. Repeat the pulling procedure with the last, green portion of candy. At the end, the candy should be an opaque and satiny green color. Form it into a log 2” in diameter.
8. Remove the candies from the oven. Cut a 5-inch segment from the green, white and red log, and place them next to each other on the fourth greased cookie sheet, with the white in the middle. Begin to pull the candies together, gently molding them together as the candy gets thinner. Try to end up with a very thin piece of tri-colored candy 1” in height. Once the twisted candy is the shape you want, use oiled kitchen shears to cut them to approximately 6-8” lengths. Immediately push them into a ribbon shape and place them on a baking sheet to set at room temperature.
9. Repeat the pulling and cutting with the remaining candy. If the candy gets too hard to pull, place it in the warm oven for a few minutes to soften, but don’t let it sit too long and melt. The ribbons will get very hard at room temperature, but if left out for long periods of time they will get soft and sticky, so be sure to wrap them in cellophane once they are set.