Hello! This is Alice! Today, she wants to share a recipe for homemade licorice candies.
Are you not into cooking? Maybe not into licorice either? That’s all right. Skip the post. But do read the bit at the end, because that concerns neither cooking nor licorice.
Until recently, Alice didn’t know that mere mortals could cook up actual licorice candies at home! But it can be done, and fairly easily, to boot. The recipe has been borrowed and translated from Jerry’s version. Thanks, Jerry!
Also, apologies in advance, there are no pictures. The licorice was so good, Alice ate it all up. Anyway, onward to the recipe!
Jerry’s Fire Alarm Priority Licorice
1 dl of yummy yummy tap water (or equivalent)
1,5 dl of dark syrup (or maybe molasses, if that’s what you have?)
4 tablespoons of plain old regular sugar
4 tablespoons of licorice root powder
1 teaspoon of finely ground anise
A pinch of salt
Black food colouring
1 dl of wheat flour (approximate!)
Of the ingredients, the licorice root powder might be the trickiest to acquire. Any kind of salty candy powder will not do. What you’re looking for is 100% ground licorice root, nothing else. If you have a shop nearby that sells organic foodstuffs, spices, or kooky health foods, you could try that.
Anyway, what I do first is, I take a medium-sized pot, preferably non-stick. I pour in water, food colouring, and syrup. (Or molasses? I’m sorry, I don’t really know what molasses is, but it seems to be an ingredient in several other licorice candy recipes.) Then I mix in sugar, licorice powder, salt, and anise. The licorice powder forms lumps easily, but that’s no issue now.
Next, I bring the heat! Low to medium is good. I boil the mix for a little while. At this time, the lumpy licorice powder resolves itself into a smooth sludge.
Oops! I made a mistake! What I do first of all, is that I prepare a sheet of baking paper and oil it gently. That’s where we’ll be lumping our licorice dough from the pot.
Now, where was I? The licorice sludge, it’s boiling gently in the pot. Next begins the tricky part with the wheat flour! (Don’t worry, it’s not that tricky. But you need a little bit of hand strength.) What I do is, I sprinkle in a little bit of wheat flour, roughly a tablespoon’s worth at a time. I use a sieve to prevent it from lumping too much. Then I mix it in thoroughly.
This part requires a bit of patience. It’s important to let the flour cook up before you add in another spoonful. Not for long – maybe a minute or so? The thing is, if you add the flour too fast, or just dump it all in, you can end up with runny, uncooked licorice paste. So that’s why you boil the dough carefully, like a witch at her cauldron, adding a spoonful of flour at a time.
After I’ve spooned in a fair amount of flour, the sludge has turned from fluid into a paste. At this time, I may have turned the heat down a bit. Low heat is good. Just enough to make the paste bubble slowly. This is the time when hand strength is required, because the paste gets stiff, and mixing in more and more of the flour requires
the muscles of Atlas a spunky girl’s grip.
Once the dough is ready, dump and scrape it onto the oiled baking paper. Fold the paper in two to flatten the dough into a nice licorice sheet. Let it cool, then cut it up into pieces according to your liking. Done!
Note #1: The completed licorice candies are pretty sticky. Commercial candy has some kind of a surface treatment to make it non-sticky. If you know of a domestic way to unstick licorice candies, tell me, oh please tell me!
Note #2: When is the dough ready to leave the pot? Later than you’d think. When the dough is all but impossible to stir – then it’s time to add in just a bit more flour! Seriously. The more flour you can knead into the paste, the better and thicker the resulting texture. (Alternatively, you could stir in less if you want softer candy, but then you risk ending up with licorice gravy instead of candy!)
All right! Done! The best goddam licorice candy in the world! But, um, what if it isn’t? What if you made the same mistake as Alice, and either added too little flour or mixed it in too quickly? You end up with sticky, gooey mass that’s no good for candy. Well, there’s still a chance of recovery!
Can you form the mass into candy-sized drops or lumps? If you can, do so. Then, bake the lumps in the oven. What you get are candies of a much different texture, but regardless, it may be a way to save your batch! Good cooking!
So, uh, what does this have to do with writing? Not a bloody thing.
According to Alice’s philosophy, a writer must know everything about everything. Literally, and no exceptions. From plumbing to population analysis, and from gardening to grand conjuration. This is not a metaphor. This is fact.
I know, I know. It’s an impossible task. But it must be undertaken, even if it shall never be completed! Hence, licorice making. A small step along the way, maybe – but a step nevertheless.