Lollipops are the last thing you expect to see on a petit-four tray in a fancy restaurant, so that's why I like to serve them last at mine. People burst out laughing when these jewel-like treats arrive on a silver platter after dessert. But then they sit back and savor those suckers right down to the stick! I never get tired of watching Chicago's most elegant diners licking lollipops like kids. These ones will help adults and kids celebrate Halloween. Try making them yellow with orange and brown candy corn. If you use a very long stick, they will look and feel more fancy. Let the syrup cool a bit to thicken it slightly, and then pour it over the ends of the sticks.
If you have lollipop collar molds, lay them on a silicone baking mat-lined sheet pan, fit them with sticks, and place 1 piece of candy corn in each collar. Or, just lay out the sticks in rows on a silpat mat, leaving 3 inches of space between them and place a piece of candy corn above the stick.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a clean, dry small saucepan (preferably 1 with a pouring spout) fitted with a candy thermometer, and bring to a boil over high heat. Without stirring, cook until the mixture reaches 305 degrees F or "hard crack" stage on the candy thermometer. (While the syrup is cooking, occasionally wash down the sides of the pan with a clean brush dipped in water, to prevent crystallization.)
When the mixture is done, remove the pot from the heat and dip it into an ice bath for 15 seconds to stop the cooking. Add the extract and food coloring and stir very gently with a wooden skewer so that the color is evenly distributed. (To avoid air bubbles in the finished lollipops, stir the mixture gently in both directions, but be careful not to over mix.)
Pour or carefully spoon the syrup into the molds or just over the sticks and candy corns, if not using collars, to make a quarter-sized disk. Cool until hard, at least 20 minutes.
Lift the suckers off the mat and remove from the molds. Slip plastic bags over the lollipops and gather the bag shut with a plastic spider finger ring. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
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