Now that DIY projects like homebrewing and canning are becoming so popular, it seems to me that it is only a matter of time before candymaking gets its moment in the sun. Most of the materials are inexpensive, the processes are simple enough to learn that you can get started in an evening, but they are difficult enough to master that it's never dull, and it's open to infinite variations. Best of all, the results can be damn near professional looking.
I've made nougats, fudges, chocolates, brittles, and caramels, but this is my first attempt at a plain hard candy. Ribbon candy is a particularly neglected variety of sweet; in fact, the only recipe I found is at about.com. That's the recipe I followed, and I was really delighted with the results.
Ribbon candy turns out to be fairly straightforward project, but surprisingly beautiful at times. After a few pulls and twists, the clear molten sugar becomes a shimmering, opalescent cord, reflecting light from every internal layer until it appears to glow. I used a less-refined variety of sugar, which resulted in the uncolored portions of the candy being a charming old-fashioned shiny tan sort of color that was particularly surprising: as it was pulled, it transformed from a brownish liquid to a firm golden-cream colored rope that glinted warmly.
As for shaping the pulled candy into ribbons, canes, or lozenges, it's a bit of an acquired skill — and one that I clearly haven't acquired. You have to move quick, and know how much candy you can shape at a time before it begins to be brittle and crack. Ok, so my results this time didn't exactly look professional, but they tasted fantastic, crunchy and bright with mint, and I think maybe next time I'll be able to manage a few more ribbon-shaped ribbons and a few less lump-shaped ones.