I can’t believe that I took the time to make candy hearts this weekend. I am the woman who avoids making cut-out cookies at all costs, runs from the room if anyone suggests decorating said cut-out cookies with icing and uses her rolling pin only for making cinnamon rolls, tortillas and pie crust. I own only a few cookie cutters and sometimes they go years before I pull them out.
I saw a post on making candy hearts on the blog Emmy Cooks. She got the idea and recipe from cakespy.com. I showed it to Calvin and he jumped on it. We planned to do them over the weekend, while Rich was out of town for work. They actually were a lot more fun to make than I thought they would be. I even made a run to Michael’s to get heart cookie cutters (actually fondant cutters, but they were cheap and were small enough for making the candies) and food color markers for writing. Minus the run to Michael’s, the whole process took about an hour, before the drying time. And it was a fun, if sticky, hour.
I am not going to swear off buying candy hearts, but I will make these again. They are a fun group project – producing tasty hearts with a texture similar to pillow mints. They are sweet, since they are largely powdered sugar, and lightly flavored with vanilla, almond or mint (three separate flavors, not mixed). I followed Emmy’s directions to use a few drops of flavoring and coloring. The flavors are very subtle. I think next time I will use about an eighth of a teaspoon, or a little more, per quarter of the batch.
I took Emmy’s notes to heart (ha!) that the recipe made a lot of candies. I cut the recipe in half, though that meant using only half of a package of gelatin – not sure what I’ll do with the other half. Maybe I’ll try making a batch of pillow mints when the hearts are gone. Our half recipe made 157 (we counted) hearts of various sizes, which were quite enough for us. Feel free to make a double batch if you are feeling crazy industrious.
Makes 150+ assorted hearts
These take way more powdered sugar than you will believe. Buy a two-pound bag and you will have more than you need. Get two bags if you are doubling the recipe. Only double it if you want a kitchen full of hearts.
¼ cup water
half of ¼ ounce package of unflavored gelatin (about 1½ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
3-4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for kneading and rolling
assorted extracts (I used mint, almond and vanilla)
food color markers
Mix water, gelatin and corn syrup together in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on full power and then stir again. Pour into a mixer bowl and add 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix well, scraping down the sides. Keep adding powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until the mixture forms a soft dough. You will just be thinking it will never work when it will all come together.
Sprinkle the counter with powdered sugar and turn dough out onto it. Knead dough a few times until it is less sticky and smooth. It will feel like smooth, satiny clay.
Divide the dough into as many parts as you want colors or flavors. I did four colors and three flavors – green and mint, pink and almond, white and blue with vanilla.
Cover the dough you aren’t working with. Add about two drops of color and about 1/8 teaspoon of flavoring extract to a ball of dough and knead and mix until the color is evenly distributed. You can do this on top of parchment, waxed paper or plastic wrap if you are afraid the color will stain your counter. Your hands might get a little stained, but it washes off pretty easily. Repeat with all the dough.
Once all the dough is colored and flavored, start rolling it out, one portion at a time. Keep the remaining dough covered to keep it from drying out. Roll the dough to between ¼ inch and 1/8 inch. Cut out with heart cutters and set on parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheets to dry. Reroll scraps and cut again.
Let hearts dry for 24 hours, uncovered. Once the hearts are totally dry, write messages on them with food color markers. Store in an airtight container for virtually forever.