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What Is Molasses Candy?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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Molasses candy is any candy made with molasses. Normally considered an old-fashioned sweet, molasses candy recipes are more often found in classic cookbooks, but modern recipes are available as well. Usually a hard candy, it may also be made into bars or kisses. A few modern recipes produce more spongy treats.

In addition to molasses, this candy is typically made with butter and corn syrup. Sugar and baking soda are also usually included. Cider vinegar, honey, or cream of tartar might be added as well. For sponge candy, mild molasses and unsalted butter are used instead of the hard candy alternatives. Real butter, whether salted or unsalted, should always be used with molasses candy.

In order to make these sweets, a candy thermometer is needed. When making hard candies, particularly, cooking times are determined by the temperature of the heated ingredients. Depending on the recipe and exact type of treat, the ingredients can reach between 245 and 295°F (118–146°C), so extreme care should be taken not to touch the mixture directly while it is cooking.

Sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar or cream of tartar are often combined in a pan and heated. The mixture is stirred until it reaches a certain temperature. Then the molasses and butter are added and cooked until reaching another given temperature. Baking soda is included after the candy mixture is removed from the heat. It is usually sifted over the syrupy mixture and then whisked to combine.

Some recipes may suggest adding all the ingredients at once. This is usually true for recipes that use a sweetening agent that does not need to be dissolved, for example honey instead of sugar. Since no new ingredients are added once a certain temperature is reached, the syrup will only need to reach a single temperature before it is completely done.

Candy may either be pulled after it cools enough to handle or poured into a buttered pan and allowed to cool completely. If it is pulled, fingers or hands should be coated in butter or flour prior to working with the candy to prevent sticking. After the molasses candy is pulled into ropes, it can be cut into pieces. Otherwise, it can be broken apart or cut after cooling. Once cut, pieces can be wrapped in candy wrappers or wax paper.

Pulling candy must be done quickly, while it is still pliable. Candy makers should always wait until it cools enough to handle, however, or they could easily burn their fingers or hands. Finished molasses candy is usually a tan color.

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