Hawthorn is a heart-friendly herb, and helichrysum has an aphrodisiac reputation, but whether there is any actual benefit to these is debatable. There's a lot of sugar in them! Still, it makes a nice theme and the flavors play well together. Despite that these contain hawthorn berries, don't expect a tart "berry" flavor. The taste is really unique- helichyrsum bitters come out even over the honey and sugar, somewhat like horehound candy if you have ever tried that. I love the way these turned out, and was pleasantly surprised that almost everyone else who has tried them went back for seconds. (So it's not just me! )
It's not complicated to make- in fact, I already have plans for other experiments of the same sort. And it doesn't require any special tools- not even a candy thermometer.
Here's what you will need:
- 2 cups sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
- 3/4 cup honey (I used wildflower)
- 1 1/2 cups water (to make the tea)
- 2 tablespoons whole hawthorn berries (throw them in a coffee grinder first to break them up a little)
- 1 tablespoonhelichrysum flowers (also ground a bit after measuring)
- 1 tablespoon Easy Day Tea (delicious and has more heart friendly herbs like Linden)
- 1 bag confectioners sugar (to make little molds for the pebble shaped candy and to use as a coating)
- baking dishes and pans where the candy will set up (I used a nonstick pan for direct-candy contact and it worked well; but the candy will stick to everything else like super glue!)
- Glass of ice water or chilled plate to test candy stage.
Things will go pretty quickly once the tea has been made, so make sure everything is set up and ready to go before you get started by creating your molds. To make a confectioner sugar mold, add a 1/2" to 1" layer of powdered sugar in a pan or baking dish and use your fingers to hollow out little cups for the "pebbles." I wasn't expecting the mixture of honey and sugar to be so foamy when it got hot, so I ended up splitting my mix into two batches. If you are short on pans, it would be best to make the sheet glass style. I did one batch on just the the nonstick pan, and then converted it to sugar molds along with a second glass baking dish I had. You should also be able to space the pebbles more closely together than I did. I wasn't sure how well behaved the hot mixture would be, but it was quite happy to hang out in the molds and not go crazy:
As soon as the candy is ready, pull it off the heat and quickly pour it into the pans. I used a spoon to ladle the mix into the confectioner sugar molds. At first I was afraid the candy would cool down to fast to do it this way, but it worked just fine.
To clean the saucepan when you are finished, fill it with water and bring it to a simmer. The candy coating will dissolve in the hot water and clean up will be a snap.
Let the candies cool and harden for about twenty minutes before you move them.
For the sheet glass candy: use a thin, metal spatula to remove it from the pan. Obviously, if it breaks it's no big deal. Continue breaking to the desired size and then toss in a bowl with a pinch or two of confectioners sugar to coat. The coating makes them less likely to stick together and makes them look more like sea glass.
For the pebble shaped candy, remove from the molds and shake in a cup or bowl to dust off the excess sugar. The sugar can be stored in an airtight container and reused for making the next batch of candy. Store the candy in a separate container. I left some out in a candy dish for a couple days and it's still fine, but I'm not sure how they would do around high humidity.
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