How to make old-fashioned sweets

Food and Drink, Vintage Holidays

Posted by Hayley on 7th August 2017

Make your own old-fashioned sweets


If you spent your childhood playing sweet shops, dashing to the ice-cream van to buy lollies, or if you were the child who used to spend all of your hard earned pocket money down at the local tuck shop then you’ll be charmed by these old-fashioned sweet recipes. An ingredient as modest as sugar can be transformed into the most delicious of treats! Retro sweets are spiking in demand and once again becoming firm family favourites and making them yourself can take you on a truly magical experience down memory lane - Nostalgia never tasted so good!



  1. Brown sugar (450g)
  2. Water (150ml)
  3. 3 drops of peppermint extract


  1. Place the brown sugar into a strong saucepan.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved, but do not stir.
  3. Continue boiling the sugar to a temperature of 310°F (154°C) - measure with a candy thermometer for accuracy.
  4. When the water has evaporated add a few drops of peppermint essence to the mixture.
  5. Dampen a slab or work surface with a small amount of warm water before pouring the peppermint and sugar mixture on to it. Use a flat bladed knife to prevent the consistency running too thin.
  6. Cut into strips with sharp buttered scissors. If you pull it a bit before cutting with scissors it will turn a lovely amber colour.
  7. Wrap in cellophane and store in an airtight container.

Sugar Mice


  • Granulated sugar (450g)
  • Water (225ml)
  • Golden syrup (2 tbsp)
  • Fine string
  • Glace icing


  1. Put the sugar and water into a strong saucepan, stir over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and then add the golden syrup.
  2. Boil quickly, with little, if any stirring, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage at 115 °C / 240 °F. Do not beat the fondant mixture in the saucepan as this will make it slightly granular.
  3. Allow to cool and stiffen slightly before handling. Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved, but do not stir.
  4. Dampen a slab or work surface with a little warm water. Turn the fondant out of the saucepan and allow to stand for a short time to stiffen slightly.
  5. Work the fondant up and down with a flat bladed knife until it becomes very white and firm in texture.
  6. Divide the fondant into equal amounts. To shape the first mouse, pull off a small amount of fondant and shape the head. Form an oval shape for the body, press the head against the body while the two portions of fondant are soft enough to adhere together. Press the string into the end of the body for the tail and decorate the head with glace icing. Leave for 24 hours in the air to dry.

Rhubarb and Custards


  • Granulated sugar (450g)
  • Water (150ml)
  • Cream of tartar (1/2 tsp)
  • Golden syrup (1 tbsp)
  • Citric acid (2 tsp)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3–5 drops of red food colouring
  • caster sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 100°C (gas mark 1) or set up a heat lamp over one end of a silicone mat. Put the granulated sugar, water, cream of tartar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat and heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring gently.
  2. When the mixture comes to the boil, remove the sugar crystals that are stuck to the inside of the pan above the bubbling solution.
  3. Keep the mixture bubbling vigorously, without stirring, until it reaches 143.C (290.F) – the soft-crack stage. Then take the pan off the heat and stir in the citric acid.
  4. To make the ‘custard’, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod on to your silicone mat, then pour half the syrup over them. Set the saucepan over a low heat to keep the remaining mixture syrupy.
  5. Pull the sugar for about 10 minutes until the candy has a glossy, creamy texture. Work quickly, as the sugar will cool quite fast. When the candy has the desired texture, put it into the oven or under the heat lamp until you have worked the ‘rhubarb’.
  6. To make the ‘rhubarb’, pour the remaining sugar syrup on to the silicone mat. Leave to cool for 10–15 minutes until it is cool enough to pick up. Add the food colouring to the sugar and repeat step 4.
  7. Take the ‘custard’ from the oven or from under the heat lamp and roll both colours into cylinders roughly the same diameter and length. Place one on top of the other and roll them into a single cylinder.
  8. Stretch out the candy cylinder until it reaches the desired thickness. Now cut it into 2.5cm lengths using strong kitchen scissors. Shape the sweets as desired, then roll them in caster sugar while still warm. Allow to set for 1–2 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Coconut ice


  • Butter, for greasing
  • 397g can condensed milk
  • 350g desiccated coconut
  • 350g icing sugar
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • Pink or red food colouring


  1. You will need a 23cm x 20cm x 4cm deep cake tin. Rub a little butter over the inside of the tin, then line the tin and two of the sides with baking paper.
  2. Pour the condensed milk into a big bowl. Add the coconut, icing sugar and vanilla extract and mix really well. Spoon half of the mixture into the square cake tin, then flatten it by pressing with damp fingers.
  3. Add a few drops of pink or red food colouring to the mixture left in the bowl and mix evenly. Spoon the coloured mixture over the top of the white layer and use damp fingers to smooth the top.
  4. Loosely cover and put in a cool place overnight to set and dry out. Use the baking paper to lift the coconut ice from the tin, then cut into about 40 pieces. Store in an airtight tin in a cool place for up to 3 weeks.

For more old-fashioned inspiration check out our Vintage Holidays hub!

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.