*This in an updated repost from last Easter. You can view the original post here.
You’d think being called “Candy” for half of my life would somehow have given me some special confectioner’s power. No such luck.
Having my dad sing “Oh sugar, honey, honey, you are my Candy Girl” as he dropped me off at the bus stop in High School each morning may have been sweet (and also embarrassing) but it apparently had no effect on my sugar-skills. In fact, my first candy-making efforts closely resembled that of Lucy Ricardo’s.
It was the Halloween before last that my son and I first decided to try making our own homemade, from-scratch, organic, healthy, and delicious Halloween candy. Easy, right? Boy was I a sucker to think it would be, at least on the first try.
The gummies were too . . . gummy.
The chocolates were too . . . lumpy.
The kitchen was a mess . . . and so was I.
Candy Girl indeed.
And yet, somehow we had enough fun and our candy was tasty *enough* that we decided to give it another go at Christmas. The sugar-plum fairy must have sprinkled some magic powdered sugar dust down on us because things went much better. With a tweak in our gelatin ratio, our gummies were perfectly gummy (although still lacked a little on flavor but we’ll get to that), and our chocolate-“snickers” were to die for!
By Valentines Day, we had it down! And by Easter we were feeling as smug as the “Candy Man” himself 😆 !
Finally, we had hacked the last gummy conundrum (homemade fruit juice plus a good strong punch of citric acid was the golden ticket for full flavor). And so . . . we entirely skipped the candy aisle last Easter and made two batches of gummies plus a batch of chocolate date “snickers” eggs, photographing along the way! Thankfully, we already mucked through the sticky pitfalls of candy-making so you don’t have to!
Candy-making in our house is now super easy and fun; something we do and look forward to every holiday! This Candy Girl “just can’t believe it’s true.”
These gummies are made from homemade 100% fruit juice, 100% maple syrup, and gelatin. As far as health goes, you aren’t going to find a healthier candy for your kids! The homemade full-fruit juice gives them an incredible jeweled tone, and we think they are as delicious as they look! In fact, these gummies may never even make it to your fridge; your kids may very well devour them in one go! Thankfully, the only added sweetener they contain is maple syrup, and as Laura Ingalls Wilder so wisely told us almost a century ago in Little House in the Big Woods, you can eat as much maple candy as you want because: “everyone knows maple syrup never hurt anybody.”
Active Time: 30 minutes per batch
- Fresh or frozen fruit: our favorite fruit combos for gummies are raspberries + lemon, blueberries + lemon, and kiwi + lime)
- 100% maple syrup
- silicone candy molds or silicone ice cube trays
- Electric Juicer (Vitamix or food processor and a strainer can work too if you don’t have a juicer)
- Kitchen Basics: kitchen knife, rubber spatula, measuring spoons, cup measure, hand juicer, saucepan, parchment paper or tin foil
1.) Make your juice: process your fresh or dethawed frozen fruit through your electric juicer until you yield close to one cup of juice. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a Vitamix or food processor, just add a few tablespoons of store bought 100% fruit juice (apple or white grape are good choices) to be able to easily blend. Then strain out the pulp and seeds.
2.) Squeeze your citrus: lemon works best with most fruit flavors, but lime is superb with kiwi (it’s our favorite combo). Squeeze enough lemons or limes for at least one tablespoon of juice per batch (we like our gummies on the sour side, so we use closer to 3 tablespoons of citrus per batch).
3.) Mix your perfect cocktail: how sweet or sour you make your gummies is highly individual. What’s important is that you end up with ONE CUP exactly of liquid. It doesn’t really matter how much of that ONE CUP is fruit juice and how much is maple syrup (as long as it’s at least half juice). It depends on what type of fruit you choose, as well as how much of a sweet or sour tooth you have. For us, we like to add about 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and 3 tablespoons of citrus per one cup of fruit juice. (Whatever leftover you have above your ONE CUP, set it aside and boil it on it’s own without added gelatin for the world’s most amazing ice cream syrup! You’ll thank me later.)
*Please note: we like our gummies pretty tart. And raspberry juice, for example, is already very tart on it’s own, so you may end up only adding one tablespoon of lemon juice as we did and maybe even as much as 1/4 cup of maple syrup. So add a tablespoon at a time of maple syrup and citrus and taste as you go. When the mixture hits your pucker just right, then measure out your ONE CUP of your perfect cocktail.
4.) Pour your perfect cocktail into a COLD saucepan: do not turn on the heat, I repeat, do not turn on the heat!
5.) Add gelatin: again, do not turn on the heat, I repeat, do not turn on the heat! Mix in 2 tablespoons of gelatin and whisk in COLD until dissolved.
6.) If fully dissolved (are all those lumps gone?) turn on medium heat. Mixture will already be quite thick, which is normal!
7.) Whisk calmly and constantly until first heat bubbles appear: do not allow to get to a full boil.
8.) Remove from heat
9.) Spoon gummy liquid into your silicone molds
10.) Refrigerate for a few hours until fully set
11.) Pop out your gummies: using your thumbs, start on one edge of each mold and pop them out end to end. Take your time. If a gummy doesn’t come out clean, hurray! Pop that dud into your mouth and try again.
12.) Refrigerate gummies up to three weeks
FOUR-INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE DATE “Snickers” EGGS:
These chocolates are made from any chocolate chips of your choice (we use Lily’s which are vegan and made with stevia instead of sugar), dates, peanut butter, and peanuts (and coconut if you want it)! Again, you aren’t going to find a healthier candy for your family to enjoy! Just make sure you save a few for the KIDS!
Active Time: 1 hour
- chocolate chips (8 oz package per batch)
- dates (about 6 dates per batch)
- peanut butter
- peanuts (1-2 per date)
- *optional walnuts
- *optional coconut shreds
- silicone egg molds (or you can use Easter eggs greased with coconut oil and nut shavings like we did!)
- *optional nut chopper (food processor turned ours into nut butter… oops)
- Kitchen Basics: rubber spatula, measuring spoons, cup measure, saucepan, parchment paper or tin foil
1.) Prepare your dates for filling: cut one half of each date lengthwise, remove pits, and spread them open for filling.
2.) Lightly fill dates: use a small spoon to fill each date with a little peanut butter and place 1-2 peanuts inside. The dates should be full but be able to be sealed closed without too much peanut butter seeping out.
3.) Squeeze those dates shut
4.) Place filled dates in the refrigerator
5.) Get your water goin’: fill a saucepan about 1/3 full of water and put on low to medium heat.
6.) Add chocolate chips: place one 8oz package of chocolate chips per batch in a stainless steel or glass bowl and place over saucepan … be careful to not let ANY water get in your chocolate! (It’s ok if the bowl touches or floats in the water but it should not directly touch the bottom of the pan).
7.) Slowly melt chocolate: do NOT bring water to a boil! Take a tip from Mary Berry: “chocolate melts in a child’s pocket.”
8.) Watch that heat: turn down heat as soon as chocolate begins to melt, you want to melt it, not cook it!
9.) Turn heat off when chocolate is fully melted
10.) Prepare molds or Easter eggs: if you use Easter eggs as your molds, grease them with coconut oil and then sprinkle finely chopped nuts or coconut shreds inside to coat the egg molds.
11.) Fill your eggs: make sure chocolate has cooled significantly but can still be spooned into eggs. You don’t want the chocolate to be very hot if you are using Easter eggs. Place enough chocolate in each egg half to reach all the way up to the side once you press the filled date down into it. Then seal both halves of the eggs together, allowing any excess chocolate to squeeze out as you do so. (If you are concerned about BP/plastic eggs: my reasoning is that store-bought candy is already shrink-wrapped in plastic, but I cooled my chocolate and lined the eggs with nuts to provide an additional heat barrier just to be careful).
12.) Place Chocolate Date “Snickers” Eggs in the refrigerator immediately
13.) Allow to harden at least a few hours
14.) Pop out eggs or pry open with a butter knife (get crackin’! They won’t always come out perfect, but I’m too much of a chocoholic to be a choco-snob…. duds are your friends!)
15.) Store in refrigerator for up to a month or in freezer as long as you like!
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Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~