Button up! Now you can make your own version of sweet, colorful button candy—perfect for parties, gifts, or Halloween.
Use ruler to measure and mark five 3-inch-wide columns across 15-inch edge of each sheet of parchment paper. Use ruler and pen or pencil to draw vertical lines to form columns.
Use ruler and pen or pencil to measure and mark 3 inches, 6 inches, and 9 inches along vertical lines on each sheet of parchment. (These marks will help guide where you place the buttons.) Place each marked sheet of parchment on baking sheet.
In medium bowl, use rubber spatula to press and mix sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, scraping down bowl as needed, until smooth icing forms, 1 to 2 minutes (icing will be VERY thick). If icing is too thick to stir, add extra milk, ¼ teaspoon at a time, until icing has taffy-like consistency.
Divide icing evenly among bowls, leaving one-third of icing in original bowl (you should have 3 bowls of icing). Use spatula to stir 2 to 4 drops yellow food coloring into 1 bowl of icing. Clean spatula before mixing next color. Stir 2 to 4 drops pink food coloring into second bowl of icing. Clean spatula before mixing next color. Stir 2 to 4 drops blue food coloring into remaining bowl of icing. Cover pink and blue icing with plastic wrap and set aside.
Place 1 parchment-lined baking sheet in front of you, with long side parallel to counter. Starting at left side of parchment next to 3 inch mark, hold pastry bag straight up, perpendicular to baking sheet, with tip about ¼ inch from parchment.
With 1 hand, gently squeeze pastry bag to push small dot of icing out of bag. Release pressure from your hand and lift pastry bag straight up.
Continue piping 3 dots of icing per column until you reach end of parchment.
After piping 1 row of buttons, use your finger to gently tap “tails” on buttons, creating smooth surface.
Return to left side of parchment and pipe another row of yellow dots at 6 inch mark. Flatten “tails” on buttons, if needed. Repeat piping another row of yellow dots at 9 inch mark. Pipe 1 more row of yellow dots approximately 1 inch above bottom of parchment. Repeat piping yellow buttons on second baking sheet at 3 inch, 6 inch, and 9 inch marks, and 1 inch above bottom of parchment.
Cut pastry tip out of pastry bag and thoroughly wash and dry pastry tip. Insert clean pastry tip into second pastry bag and fill with pink icing. Pipe dots of pink icing in even rows (3 dots per column) approximately 1 inch above yellow dots on both sheets of parchment, flattening “tails” of each row as you go, if needed.
Once you finish piping pink dots onto both sheets of parchment, cut pastry tip out of bag and thoroughly wash and dry pastry tip. Insert clean pastry tip into third pastry bag and fill with blue icing. Pipe dots of blue icing in even rows (3 dots per column) about 1 inch above pink dots on both sheets of parchment, flattening “tails” of each row as you go, if needed.
Set baking sheets aside in cool, dry place. Let buttons dry at room temperature until fully hardened, at least 8 hours or overnight.
The adults in your life probably remember eating candy buttons when they were kids—ask them about it! They’ll probably tell you that the candies stuck to the paper and didn’t have much flavor—we solved both of those problems in our version.
And it’s a good thing you know how to make candy buttons yourself, since their future in stores is a bit up in the air! In 2018, the Necco candy company shut its doors. For decades it was the only producer of candy buttons, and it’s not clear if another company will start manufacturing them.