By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, Herb Society of America
Every Christmas I craft gifts for family and friends. In previous years I’ve made scarves, herbal sachets, infused liqueurs, jams and jellies. This year, my family and friends are getting colorful, handcrafted lollipop bouquets. With herbal flavors
It started with a Liquor Lollipop book I found at Horizontal Books in Cleveland. I was reading it in bed one night in October when the idea of bourbon lollipops got stuck in my brain.
I made them. They were good. And the Great Lollipop Project began.
Playing with sugars was sweet. I got stuck on the process. Soon, I was tweaking the basic recipe and adding herbal influences. More than 300 lollipops later I’m sharing what I learned.
While Lorann brand drams are typical flavoring choices, I also found flavor emulsions at Home Goods and Joann stores. I used lavender oil (the tiniest amount) and rosewater. Even with standard flavors I did a little twist. I grated nutmeg onto eggnog suckers. I created cordial flavor mixing chocolate, cherry and vanilla. I needed to infuse my creativity into these lollipops.
After a bit, I had dozens of lollipops and wanted to share them with everyone I knew. Thus, Christmas gifts. To impress recipients (and feed my ego) I wanted credit for new experiences. So, I dug back into the Liquor Lollipop book with herbs, not spirits, in mind.
My thought was to infuse the spirit with herbal goodness, then make the lollipop. The alcohol would carry the flavor. And, in most cases it worked. I made lemon thyme, blackberry sage, herbal tea and other unique flavors.
Here’s what I learned
- Choose silicon molds. I learned that the hard way. They release the candy every time. They cost a little more, but reduce frustration.
- Add flavoring and coloring last. They may burn or cook off if added while cooking.
- Herbal oils are potent, use small amounts.
- Sprinkle in ground chile pepper – chipotle-chocolate, watermelon-jalapeno – when using, at the very end.
- Infuse vodka/bourbon/others with herbs overnight.
- Use only true spirits. Flavored or sweetener-enhanced liqueurs are unpredictable and may burn.
- Temperature rises quickly after 260 F. I putter around the kitchen while cooking the syrup, until 260 F. Then, the syrup needs close babysitting.
- Color lollipops for edible appeal.
- Be willing to fail. Improvisation sometimes fails. Trash bad results and move on.
- 2/3 cup sugar
- ¼ cup liquor, infused
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon infused liquor OR other flavoring
Prepare molds with sticks.
Place sugar and first three liquids into heavy-bottom sauce pan. Boil until temperature reaches 260 F. Then, continue to boil, watching closely until 300 F. Remove from heat. Stir in flavoring and coloring.
Working quickly and carefully, pour into prepared molds. Wait at least 20 minutes until set.
Remove, wrap in small bags and secure with twist tie.
MORE IDEAS … For the holiday add crushed candy canes (mint) to the molds before adding mint- or chocolate-flavored candy … Instead of herbs, add chile pepper powder to molds and cover with hot candy … Use herb-fruit combinations like blackberry sage … Enhance lemon-thyme infusion with lemon flavoring … Sprinkle dried herbs or fruit into molds and cover with hot candy … Substitute rosewater for water. Add dried rose petals to molds.
RESOURCES … In addition to the garden, craft shops and herb suppliers consider