I love the taste of candy cane at this time of year. But, unfortunately, the sugar-free peppermint candies available in the stores are sweetened with the offending sugar alcohols isomalt, sorbitol or mannitol, all of which can cause embarrassing gas, bloating and loose stools… not the fun side effect you hope to experience from eating candy! I made these candies, not only for eating, but for sprinkling on my holiday baked goods or adding to my favorite ice cream flavor: Peppermint Stick Ice Cream! It is necessary to have a candy thermometer or probe thermometer to achieve correct hard-crack stage this candy requires. Also, erythritol-based sugar substitute is a must. I’ve tried making this candy with allulose, but it turned out softer and chewy, like taffy, instead of a hard candy. Not bad, but not exactly what I was looking for. If you would like an alternative to the sugar-free candies available commercially, to crush and add to your ice cream or sprinkle on top of your keto baked goods, this is the recipe for you!
Sugar Free Peppermint Hard Candy
Number of servings varies (Yields 1/2 cup crushed candies)
1/2 cup erythritol-based powdered sweetener (I prefer Lakanto Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener)
1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste
1 drop of gel food coloring (optional)
Candy thermometer or Digital Probe thermometer*
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, very gently stir together the sweetener, cream of tartar and water over medium high heat just until the dry ingredients are dissolved. Stop stirring and allow to come to a boil. Continue to boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches between 300 - 310°F. The mixture will remain clear and not thicken into a syrup. Temperature is the only way to determine if it has reached the hard crack stage. (Do not overcook or the mixture will begin to take on a bitter, burnt flavor.) Remove from heat.
2. While the mixture is boiling, line a small heatproof bowl with foil and set aside. You may also use silicone candy molds to create individual, bite-sized candies.
3. When the mixture stops bubbling, add the extract and food coloring (if using) and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the foil-lined bowl and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. (Or pour into a silicone candy mold to make individual candies.) Refrigerate the mixture several hours until completely set and hardened.
4. Remove the foil or pop out the individual candies from the silicone mold. To make peppermint candy sprinkles, place the harden candy disc in a plastic bag and gently break apart by lightly pounding with the handle of a butter knife. (This candy has a more delicate structure than hard candy made from real sugar, so don’t pound too aggressively.) The broken, gently crush candy makes an excellent mix-in for my Keto Peppermint Stick Ice Cream or as a topping on keto baked goods.
*Note: To achieve a hard candy, you need to use an erythritol-based sweetener. Allulose or Bocha Sweet will not firm up properly. (These two sweeteners make great taffy or chewy caramel, but not hard candies.) Also, you really need a candy thermometer or digital thermometer to make sure the boiling mixture reaches the right temperature, between 300-310°F, so it will set up correctly. Erythritol-based sweetener will not act like real sugar. It doesn’t thicken up into a syrup and will not ball up when added to cold water, so temperature is the only way to determine when you’ve reached the hard crack stage.
Nutritional Information per 1 tablespoon of crushed candy: 1 calorie, 6 g carbohydrate (0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 12 g sugar alcohols), 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 10 mg potassium, 0 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 0 grams
Photos and recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2021
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.