It is rare that I give a food so much of my attention. I have pored through books, researched, scoured the internet, tried innumerable recipes. All of my labors seemed for not - batch after failing batch. Just when it seemed that no real information was available, that this delectable confection was limited to commercial production, the pieces of the puzzle finally...slipped...together.
This is my own recipe, based on the mass of little factoids that I've uncovered over time. I will say that the most important key was discovered at Wikipedia. I am most grateful.
Why, you might ask, would anyone want to make their own licorice? When you can just pop into the store, pick up some Red Vines, and have instant gratification? Well, there were two reasons for me, I suppose. First, red licorice was a challenge. I have tackled and conquered most of my other favorite candies; red licorice stood undefeated. I was laid down in the dust with its red boot on my chest, it's sticky arms raised in triumph. I had to save my good name. Hmmm...too far perhaps. Anyway, the second reason is bragging rights. There's just something special about saying, "I made it myself!"
It must be said that this recipe is not Red Vines. It is good, though. Really good. The texture is just slightly off, but I think that can be attributed to the candy not being handled by machines and not being molded as it is commercially. This is as close as I think I'm going to get with homemade, so I count it as a win!
I considered adding this to my short list of super-secret recipes. Tempting...but I realized that this one just had to be shared. So, here you go - my goblet of victory, I pass it to you...
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp raspberry or strawberry flavoring
1/4 tsp cherry flavoring
1/4 tsp red gel coloring
1. Make ready a large piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt (to prevent clumping). Whisk in the corn syrup, oil, and water. Set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (a silicon spatula works well here).
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 260° (hard ball stage). Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Stir in the flavorings and color.
5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared parchment paper. Let rest until cool enough to handle.
6. Take about 1/4 of the candy. You can roll and cut the licorice into any shape you'd like. The easiest is chews: Roll the section of candy into a 1/2" diameter rope. Place the rope on the parchment paper. Snip into 1" lengths with kitchen shears. Repeat with the remaining candy. If candy becomes too hard to shape, you can put it in the microwave for a few seconds.
7. Cover the candy and store in a cool, dry place.
1. You might notice that Red Vines and Twizzlers are tube-shaped. That's because licorice is super chewy. Of course, if you work quickly, and keep the candy warm, you can make the tubes yourself (a lot of work). Alternately, you can roll the candy flat and then cut it into pieces. Not as pretty, but easier on the teeth!
2. You can make black licorice by using licorice or anise extract and black coloring.
3. In the photo, you'll notice a couple of creme filled candies. This turned out to not be the best application - the licorice is just too chewy. If you cook the candy only to firm ball stage, though, the creme filling is a lot more at home. I found the filling recipe, by Andrew Mollman, at Food.com.
Happy candy making!!