Homemade Gumdrops for the Holidays

Recently I picked up a new (yes, really new) cookbook that I couldn’t resist, The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King. These two women own a candy company. Since candies are prominently featured in my vintage cook books, I thought this how to book would be very helpful as I delve into the scary world of candy making.

Candy making appears to have been much more common in the early 20th century. The majority of my cook books contain recipes for things that seem exotic and foreign to me – divinities, fondants, marzipans, Turkish Delight (well, we all know now that this should be avoided after seeing the Chronicles of Narnia!), and something I don’t even know how to pronounce – panocha. They all sound intriguing, but also very complicated involving exact temperatures, candy thermometers and other arcane instruments.

But armed with directions from my new Liddabit Cookbook, I feel more confident to delve into the realm of candy making. I began with something that called for simple ingredients and equipment and no need to worry about temperatures – Gumdrops!

Many of you may have heard the term goody, goody gumdrops. Here’s a great history of the term, which is American in invention, as are gumdrops. The real history of gumdrops is a bit hazy, but there are references to them being sold in stores as early as the 1850s. In 1915 Ohio candy maker Percy Truesdell invented a process to improve gumdrops and he became known as the Gumdrop King.

While I have a recipe for making gumdrops from my 1941 The Candy Book edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, I decided to follow the recipe in the Liddabit Cookbook. The 1941 cook book calls for one pound of gum arabic, which wasn’t something I could readily get my hands on. The more modern cookbook uses unflavored powdered gelatin. Maybe next time I will try the recipe from my 1931 Knox Gelatine pamphlet that called them Knox Dainties.

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 5 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 4 cups granulated sugar (yep!)
  • food coloring
  • flavoring (I used peppermint)
  • Sugar for dredging

Coat a small baking sheet (9 x 13″) with cooking spray and set aside – this is so impt. Use a lot!

Place the apple juice and gelatin in a small bowl and allow the mixture to sit until the gelatin is full hydrated and softened, five minutes

Combine the gelatin mixture and the 4 cups of sugar in a medium size (4-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until it form a syrup – about 10 minutes

Remove syrup from heat

Add the food coloring and 1 tsp. of flavoring and mix well.

Fill a small bowl with cold water and test the flavor of the gelatin. Drop 1/2 tsp. into the water. When it firms up taste it. If needed add more flavoring a few drops at a time. (I didn’t need to add anymore)

Pour the candy into the prepared small baking sheet and allow to set up until cool and firm to touch about 2 hours

Lightly oil a cutting board and knife with cooking spray

Major ick - I felt like I was in a Sci-Fi moving

Run knife around edge of candy to release from baking sheet (mine really didn’t release and came out as an oozy mass)

Cut the candy into small squares  (yea right – this was incredibly hard and messy)

Once you wrestle the candy into some sort of small shapes, dredge them with the sugar and set aside to harden more on wax paper. Another 2 yours at least

I must admit, I’m not the neatest or most careful person when it comes to detail work. My gum drops came out looking like heck, but boy they taste good! Store them in a closed container layered with wax paper. They are sweet and you won’t be able to eat too many at a time, but yummy!

Not exactly pretty but they are great.

And of course you can use the gum drops in my recipe for Gumdrop Cake found here.

And maybe I will try that Turkish Delight next……..

One Response to “Homemade Gumdrops for the Holidays”

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  1. Bev says:

    Those do sound yummy! That is a lot of sugar! Wonder if it would work with Splenda?

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