Bases/ Cakes

Hard Candy Cake Decorations

hard candy cake decorations

Candy lollipops, balls, flowers, vases, splashes, sails, crowns… Hard candy cake decorations are very popular, and this is clear: such products are not too difficult to prepare, using the simplest and most inexpensive ingredients, often without the use of any special equipment or molds, and the effect of such decoration is 10 out of 10 points.

To make the hard candy, choose a pot with a thick bottom, which significantly reduces the possibility of burning the sugar. If your cookware has a thin bottom, cook the hard candy over very low heat, it will take much longer, but you are more likely to get the desired result.

You also need to prepare a wooden skewer, a glass of cold water, and something on which you will form the hard candy decoration. I most often make round lollipops on sticks or without them, or a splash (a vase). To do this, you need a silicone mat, lollipop sticks, and a glass for the splash.


Corn syrup (it is needed to prevent crystallization, but you can make hard candy without corn syrup by simply replacing it with an additional 100 g of water + 1 tsp of lemon juice)
Water-soluble food coloring (gel coloring is best)

Pour all the products (except for the coloring) into a saucepan, put on medium-low heat. Do not stir, you can sometimes shake the saucepan a little.

The temperature of the finished transparent hard candy is about 150ºC. However, I’m used to cooking without a thermometer, using only the method described below.

From the moment it boils, the hard candy is cooked for about 4–7 minutes (depending on the dishes and the heating power), but do not go anywhere and periodically check the doneness as follows: dip a wooden skewer into the melted sugar and then immediately into a glass of cold water. If you hear the hard candy crackle on the skewer, it’s done. You can then tap it on the table; it should be as hard as glass and make a proper sound when you hit it. If the hard candy is soft, continue cooking.

The melted sugar for hard candy should not turn yellow, otherwise you won’t be able to color it the right color. So be careful and keep your eye on it. If you undercook the caramel, candy lollipops will be sticky, and if you overcook it, they will be yellow.

hard candy cake decorations

When the caramel is done, remove the saucepan from the heat, add the water-soluble coloring (gel coloring is best, it dissolves instantly), and stir gently and not too actively. Add just a little coloring, as melted sugar is very easily colored. For non-transparent products, titanium dioxide is added to the caramel (a white powdered coloring sold in confectionery stores).

Next, form lollipops or other hard candy decorations by pouring it into molds or on a silicone mat.

Work with hot caramel quickly and carefully. If you see that it starts to harden in the saucepan before you are done, reheat it over low heat, but do NOT stir at this point. Actually, you need to stir the hot caramel very carefully and as little as possible, otherwise it can become unclear and sugared. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about such caramel.

How to make round hard candy lollipops?

Round lollipops are easy to make with a spoon, the main thing is to pour the melted sugar into one point. You can insert chopsticks into them, but do it immediately after pouring each lollipop and turn the stick in it.

Confetti or other decorations should be sprinkled on the lollipops immediately after pouring, so that they stick to the hot caramel and do not fall off later.

For a gradient of lollipops, the coloring is added to the hot caramel gradually: add it to the very tip of a toothpick, mix it, pour a couple of lollipops; add more coloring to the tip of the toothpick, pour again, and so on. You can get interesting stains in the hard candy if you don’t stir the coloring in completely. In general, there is a space for the flight of imagination, just be free to experiment.

How to make a hard candy splash or a hard candy vase?

Put the glass upside down, place a silicone mat on it, make the bends as you like, fixing them at the bottom with paperclips or clothespins, pour the caramel on top, wait for it to cool completely, remove the paperclips, and carefully remove the mat.

Hard candy sails are made in a similar way, only first we pour caramel on the mat and very quickly give the mat the desired shape with paperclips or clothespins, a roll of parchment or other improvised materials.

After molding the desired hard candy cake decorations, wait until the candy pieces have cooled completely before removing them from the mat or molds.

If the caramel has been cooked properly, the decorations will be as hard as glass, dry, and not sticky.

If the hard candy bends or sticks, it was undercooked. Put it in a clean, dry saucepan and melt it again over low heat, bring it to the desired state, and then mold it again.

hard candy cake decorations

How can you fix the imperfections of hard candy cake decorations?

You can smooth out an uneven edge of a candy lollipop or other hard candy cake decorations in a simple way: after hardening, rub the unevenness with a finger dipped in water.

Now I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about hard candy cake decorations.

How to fix the hard candy decorations on the cake?

The way to fix the hard candy cake decorations depends on the finish of the cake.

The hard candy cake decorations are attached to a buttercream, ganache, or fondant coating with buttercream, chocolate, or ganache, respectively. With cream cheese frosting and buttercream, sometimes all you need to do is put the hard candy decor on it: the moisture in the frosting will make the hard candy slightly sticky and fix it.

The cake must be well chilled before decorating.

Cake coatings with a lot of moisture (frostings with a high cream content) may not hold the hard candy cake decorations at all, it will simply slide off the cake or run off quickly.

To attach candy lollipops or other hard candy cake decorations to each other, use water: grease the joints with just a drop of water and leave the candy pieces to harden together. Then attach it to the cake using the above methods.

Does the hard candy decoration melt on the cake?

Yes, it melts, but how quickly depends on the cake’s coating and the humidity of the environment. Hard candy is afraid of moisture, so the drier the air and conditions around it, the longer it will last. In a tightly closed airtight container, the hard candy cake decorations can be perfectly stored for months.

Among the various cake coatings, chocolate ganache, fondant, and buttercream work well for caramel. On a cake that has been frosted with cream cheese and butter frosting, the hard candy decor can last only about 3–4 hours in the refrigerator, but again, this depends on the conditions: different refrigerators have different humidity (no-frost refrigerators are always drier).

You can also extend the lifetime of the hard candy piece by isolating the decoration from the cake with chocolate, but this will not protect it from air humidity.

Thus, I advise you to attach the hard candy decor as close as possible to the moment the cake is served.

A common practice among bakers is to give the customer the cake and hard candy decor separately, and then the customer puts the decoration on the cake before serving. Of course, we’re talking about simple decor when he/she just needs to stick lollipops into the cake or put a ball/flower/crown/vase on top.

How to store the hard candy cake decorations?

In an airtight container.

And one more important question.

How to wash dishes after cooking the hard candy cake decorations?

Soak it with water until the hard candy is completely dissolved. It’s not tricky, right 🙂

What do you think about this hard candy cake decorations recipe? Did you like it? I am happy to share my experience with you and waiting for your feedback!

Hard Candy Cake Decorations |

Print Recipe
Cooking Time: 20 min


  • 220 g sugar
  • 100 g corn syrup (or 100 g of water + 1 tsp of lemon juice)
  • 70 g water
  • water-soluble food coloring



Pour all the products (except for the coloring) into a saucepan, put on medium-low heat. Do not stir, you can sometimes shake the saucepan a little.


Cook until done (about 150ºC), checking as follows: dip a wooden skewer into the caramel and then immediately into a glass of cold water. If you hear the caramel crackle on the skewer, it's ready. If not, continue cooking.


Remove the finished caramel from the heat, add coloring if desired.


Form a candy decor, cool completely.


Store in an airtight container.

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