Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gumdrops

Here's another great, old-fashioned candy.  What's not to love about gumdrops?  Fruity, chewy, sweet, and pretty - they're even dressed up in sparkles!
After trying time and again to make these at home, following different online recipes, I had almost given up hope.  And then, finally, an idea struck.  Read the ingredients (duh).  Well, gumdrops turn out to be made from starch - not gelatin or pectin as so many recipes call for.  Well, I know of a confection made with starch that is quite similar - lokum (more on that in a future blog).  Of course, gumdrops are thicker and chewier, so some adjustments were needed.  A couple more tests, and I had it.  Gumdrop goodness!
My recipe is based on a lokum formula by Saad Fayed on About.com.  This is not what I'd call a beginner candy.  Experience is helpful, but time and patience are essential.  You will be at the stove for a long while, stirring (and stirring...and stirring).  That said, your effort will all pay off as soon as you take your first taste.
I just love these little candies.  If you're a gumdrop fan, too, I hope you'll give this recipe a try.  You won't be disappointed!

Gumdrops
Katie Christy
Adapted from About.com

Ingredients:
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups water

4 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice

4-6 drops food coloring (optional)
1/2 tsp flavor oil

1/2 cup sugar

Directions:
1.  Line a 9" X 9" pan with parchment paper.  Lightly spray with oil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large saucepan, whisk the cornstarch together with the 2 cups of water.  Set aside.

3.  Stir the sugar and cream of tartar together in a medium saucepan.  Add the water and lemon juice.  Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 245°.  Remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture until smooth.  Set the pan over medium-high heat.  Whisk until the mixture is very thick.  Remove the pan from the heat.

5.  Whisk a very small amount of the sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture until smooth.  Add a bit more sugar mixture, whisk until smooth.  Repeat until you have whisked in all of the sugar mixture.  Do not pour too much in at a time or you may get lumps (if you do get a few lumps, strain the mixture before proceeding).

6.  Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture back to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring constantly (to avoid scorching) until the mixture has reached hard ball stage (perhaps because of the viscosity, I was unable to get my thermometer to accurately measure this mixture).  You can test the doneness by dropping a small amount of the candy into ice water - the mixture should form a ball that does not flatten.  You can also observe the color, which should be similar to honey butter.  Also, take a look at the texture - as you stir the mixture will appear to almost peel away from the bottom of the pan.  If you undercook the mixture a bit, it is still great, but has a consistency more like a fruit slice candy.

7.  As soon as the candy is done, remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the color and flavoring.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly (the candy is super-sticky, so just do your best).

8.  Let the candy cool to room temperature.  Place the 1/2 cup of sugar in bowl or pie dish (using a cup of sugar will make this job easier, but you will not use it all).

9.  Do this step in batches.  Use lightly oiled kitchen shears to cut the candy first into strips, then into pieces (shears work much better than a knife for this).  Place the pieces directly into the sugar and toss to coat.  Place the coated candies onto a piece of parchment paper.

10.  Let the candies stand for an hour.  Serve!  Store any extras an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

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