Jeff is a big fan of black licorice. I tried growing licorice root but didn’t have much luck in my zone 4B garden. I have had luck in growing anise hyssop in my garden, however, and its flavor is similar. The flavor is so close that I thought I would try making some kind of homemade licorice from it this year. I wouldn’t quite master licorice but I have figured out some tasty gumdrops which are close enough for us. These anise hyssop gumdrops have a chewy texture that is nicely complimented by crunchy chopped nuts. The texture, herbs, and sugar make for a delightful treat. The chopped nuts do give it a nice crunch, but I think you could skip it with equally amazing results. It’s a delicious and different way to use the herbs growing in the garden.
Because this candy essentially starts with a strongly brewed herbal tea, I believe any herb or tea would work wonderfully, just brew it strongly enough to kept its flavor into the face of the other ingredients.
- 1 Cup Fresh Anise Hyssop Leaves, finely chopped & loosely packed
- 2 Cups Boiling Water
- 4 Tablespoons Gelatin, unflavored
- 3 Cups Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 1 ¼ Cups Chopped Nuts
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
First Make Tea
- Pour boiling water over anise hyssop leaves and let steep 10 minutes. Strain and refrigerate liquid until cold.
Make the Gumdrops
- Line a 9" square cake pan with parchment paper
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the cooled hyssop tea. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil gently until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over remaining cold herbal tea. Let soften for 5 minutes.
- Add gelatin and lemon juice to hot mixture and whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in nuts.
- Pour into prepared pan. Chill until firm.
Cut into Squares
- Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. In a wide bowl, place some more powdered sugar to roll the gumdrops in for longer storage. Turn the candy out onto the sugared board. Using a serrated knife, slice the block into small squares. Roll the squares in the powdered sugar, coating all sides. Store the candy at room temperature.
- To make these gumdrops with dried herbs use 1/2 cup packed leaves as dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh.