Friday, June 11, 2010

Space Invaders Hard Candy

I recently stopped by the Popkiller store and picked up this Space Invaders ice cube tray for $9.00. I made some ice cubes but they weren't all that impressive because they melted in my glass before I had a chance to really appreciate them. Since the tray is made of food grade silicone and is rated for -58 to 446 degrees Farenheit (-14 to 230 degrees Celsius), I decided to use it to make something more permanent.

I went with hard candy first. I used this recipe.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • between 1/4 and 1 teaspoon flavoring
  • liquid food coloring
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons citric acid (optional, adds tartness)
I bought some citric acid in the form of "Fresh Fruit" fruit preserver, which is actually asorbic acid and citric acid and some dextrose to boot. For certain recipes this substitution may not be a good idea, but for this one it seemed to have worked just fine.

First I boiled some water to test my candy thermometer. I had just bought it and it only cost $2, so I wanted to check the accuracy. It showed about 5-10 degrees less than 100 degrees Celsius when the water first started boiling.

The recipe is pretty simple. You mix the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. I don't have any nonstick pans so I spread some vegetable oil all over my saucepan (this worked out fine). When the candy thermometer showed ~300 degrees Farenheit ('hard cracked' temperature) I turned off the heat. At 275 degrees I added ~6 drops red food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon imitation strawberry flavor. Then I immediately poured it into the mold. I thought it would cool down very fast so I rushed and did a messy job. What was in the saucepan actually cooled down pretty slowly.

I thought it might help to use this cast iron pan as a heatsink.

I laid them out on a piece of waxpaper in the obligatory arrangement. I think the shapes aren't quite true to the original arcade version but that is probably something the company did to avoid copyright issues.

I wanted some better photos (or zoomed in photos) to show how sharp the outlines of the invaders came out, but my camera stopped working...

Taste: they taste just like generic strawberry hard candy. They remind me of the kind that used to come wrapped in a wrapper that was supposed to resemble a strawberry. They are pretty sweet and not sour.

In the future I plan to try green/mint, orange/orange, clear/coconut, and yellow/banana space invader candy.

I also bought some baking chocolate to make chocolate space invaders.

Other future plans: Allen put it into my head to make a carbonite Han Solo chocolate. I'm not aware of any commercially available molds, and I don't want to buy a toy to use in mold-making, so I think I might find a friend with CAD skills (or learn myself) and go from there.

For practicing my CAD skills I might make some Tetris trays. I saw that on instructables and it seemed pretty cool for ice cubes (no small details that will quickly melt away).

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