Holiday Gumdrops--an Easy Recipe
Easy, Easy, Easy and Delicious Holiday Gumdrops
So, you got all your holiday shopping done, and, "Uh-oh!" Forgot someone? Well, don't panic. No need to brave last-minute crowds. You can concoct a tasty treat right in your own kitchen, and it will be gratefully received and eagerly devoured. This is not the old standby fruit cake at which everyone scoffs, or the slightly-trite cranberry bread.
This is not purchased pre-gift-wrapped chocolates in a box--it's a whole new thing that I'll bet almost no one on your gift list has gotten before. Besides, in a tough economy, home-made gifts are truly from the heart, and much more appreciated.
There are very few ingredients, and only one part is a bit "fussy," but it mainly involves a 'constant stirring' on the stove bit.
I've included a video of the entire process, so you can see how really easy it is. True, it is a bit time-consuming, but only in stages. The actual cooking part is quick. You can do something else while waiting for the gumdrops to set up, and that takes a good 3 hours or so. Longer won't hurt them.
Do you think you will try this recipe?
The whole family can get involved in making these treats. While it is best if a single person is doing the cooking part, and this should be an adult, or an older teen, the fun comes at the end when they are being readied for packing.
This is candy, and it does involve a lot of sugar, which is why I only make them as holiday treats...and I give most of it away..to lessen the temptation on my end!
This is one of those recipes that takes longer to explain than it does to do, so please don't be scared off by the apparent lengthy directions. It sounds complicated and intimidating, but really, it's easy. I was only "scared" the first time I tried it...after that, I practically had it memorized, and regularly made at least four flavors for gifts each year.
Each batch yields about 1 pound of candy.
Very Important Notes:
This recipe cannot be cut in half! I tried it once: you get brick-hard candy, instead of soft gumdrops.
(After that experience, I did not attempt doubling the recipe, either.)
This process is continuous, and once begun, cannot be stopped or interrupted, until after the candy is poured into the pan. So be sure you have set aside a time when you know you won't be interrupted by family members. If the phone rings, let the voice mail pick it up. I'm serious: you cannot stop once you begin!
Therefore, have everything ready ahead of time; your ingredients and flavors pre-measured and your chosen color handy before you start.
- 1 package (1-3/4 oz) POWDERED fruit pectin, be sure to get the right weight package--it WILL make a difference!
- 3/4 cup water, normal tap temperature is fine
- 1/2 teaspoon baking SODA
- 1 Cup regular granulated sugar
- 1 Cup LIGHT corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons flavoring extract, your choice
- few drops food coloring
- 1 Cup granulated sugar, Save aside; this is in addition to what goes into the mixture, above
- Combine the fruit pectin, water and baking soda in a saucepan. This mixture WILL foam, so be sure to use a large enough pan to allow for this expansion.
- Combine the first measure of sugar and the corn syrup in a second saucepan.
- Put both pans over high heat, and stir each alternately USING SEPARATE SPOONS, until the foam disappears from the pectin mixture, and the sugar mixture boils rapidly, and the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Turn off the heat under the pectin mixture, and pour it slowly, in a thin stream, into the sugar and corn syrup mixture, stirring constantly.
- Cook stirring constantly, about one more minute.
- Remove from heat and quickly stir in the flavoring and color. Pour immediately into an 8" by 8" square pan. ( Inexpensive aluminum pans are best, for they will get scarred and scratched from cutting the candies. Do NOT use disposable ones, though; the sharp knife will cut through, and you may end up with metal slivers in the candy!!)
- Allow to sit at room temperature for several hours--at least 3. Do NOT refrigerate!!!
- Using a sharp metal knife dipped in hot water, cut candies into squares or diamonds about 1/2" in size, and roll in the reserved sugar. A metal turner, also dipped in hot water, can be slid underneath the cut candy to help release it from the pan.
Prep and cook times above do not include the 3 hours setting time, or the cutting and sugaring time once set.
Allow about a half hour for cutting and sugaring; longer if kids are involved.
Flavor and Color Chart
Of course, everyone is free to make up their own combinations, but the 'color/flavor' table below shows what I use.
**Beware: If using clove extract, use only a couple of drops, rather than the 2 teaspoons called for with the other flavors. Clove is a very concentrated flavor, and too much will not be pleasant.
Color and Flavor Suggestions
3 drops yellow; 1 drop red
use only 2 drops!!
you don't want 2 red--pick either clove OR strawberry
add no coloring
3 drops red; 2 drops blue
You might want to experiment with the Licorice (Anise) flavor to see if you can get black. I imagine you'd start with purple, then add some green to muddy and darken it a bit. You might get "almost black." I've never tried it, though...it's something that just occurred to me.
Finally, here's the part the kids will really enjoy helping with. Take each cut gumdrop, and roll it well in the bowl of sugar, coating all sides, and set them into your chosen container.
If you are making several layers, be sure to separate each layer from the others with waxed paper, or they will all glue themselves back together in a sticky mass.
These candies are very soft, melt-in-your-mouth treats. Even senior citizens with dentures can enjoy them, as they do not need chewing, and they are not "hard sticky" like caramels, so they won't stick to dental work. Even folks who, for whatever reason, may be lacking teeth at all can enjoy these candies.
For gift-giving, you have a number of options. You can save up containers of various sizes from other foods to use for the purpose, such as:
- margarine tubs
- frosting tubs
- ice cream tubs
The size you pick would be determined by how many people are on the receiving end of your gift. A larger one for an office party or big family; a small frosting tub for a single "little old lady," for example.
Any of these can be pre-decorated with cheerful paper or recycled old holiday cards.
You also have the option of purchased gift containers, if your budget will allow.
The main thing to remember is to trace around the container on layers of waxed paper, so you will have a custom-fitted set of separator papers. You have to put waxed paper between the layers, or you will end up with a stuck-together mess.
© 2011 Liz Elias