Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Strawberry Heart Gummies

Valentine’s Day is one of the sweetest days of the year. Not just because of the love and kisses, but because of the chocolates and candies that accompany them. Smart valentines know that the best way to their beloved’s heart is through their sweet tooth. Give ‘em some sugar this year with a batch of homemade heart gummies. All it takes is four ingredients, a few surprisingly simple steps, and a small heart cutter.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love candy. My anticipation for almost every holiday can practically be measured by the types of seasonal candies associated with them. Halloween is all about the candy corn, Easter is officially marked by the first of many bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs (and Peeps), and Valentine’s Day is filled with enough boxes of chocolate and conversation hearts to last me until the next year. Heart-shaped cherry gummies are another February must-have. And while I like the store-bought kind just fine, I thought it would be fun to make my own.

My take on the classic V-Day confection is made with fresh strawberry puree. There is no artificial flavor here, just the pure taste of strawberry, naturally sweet and delicious. The sugar coating not only makes the candies look beautiful, but is used like flour on dough to keep the candy from being too sticky. These “gummies” are basically a version of French p√Ętes de fruit or fruit jellies, a traditional and often expensive candy that has been made for centuries. You can substitute any fruit puree you like.

The heart cutter I used to make the shapes is very small and came as a set with a variety of other shapes. They are made by Ateco and are called “aspic cutters.” I got them at Sur La Table. They come in a medium size too, which would also work well. Besides candy, the shapes can be used to cut out fondant for cakes and for decorating cookies and pies.

Strawberry Heart Gummies
Yield: 16-20 candies
-  ½ cup freshly pureed strawberries
-  ½ teaspoon lemon juice
-  ½ tablespoon powdered gelatin
-  ¾ cup fine sugar, divided
1) Line a bread tin or a 7” x 5” square glass dish with parchment paper, allowing about an inch to hang over the sides.
2) Mix the lemon juice into the strawberry puree. Place ¼ cup of the sugar in a small saucepan with the strawberry puree and gelatin and whisk combine. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Stir in ¼ cup more of the sugar and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken a little. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and let set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
3) Spread the remaining ¼ cup sugar on a tray. Once completely set, slowly and carefully pull the candy away from parchment paper into the sugar on the tray, using the excess sugar to help it get unstuck. Using a small heart-shaped cutter, cut hearts out of the candy. Roll each heart in the sugar until fully coated. Store the candies in the refrigerator in an airtight container dusted with the remaining sugar.

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