Is there anything more holidayish than a gumdrop? Ok, maybe a sugar plum, but that’s about it. Gumdrops are an old world style candy, and that’s what I love about them. With their glowing stained glass jelly insides and their glistening sugar coating they kind of symbolize the wonder of candy itself. They’re like little snow covered gems, and it’s pretty magical to see them come together. Why not switch it up this year and make these in place of one batch of cookies?
Traditional gumdrops are made with gum arabic or gelatin, plus sugar, flavoring and coloring. Originally they were called spice drops, and they were flavored with real spice and herb extracts like spearmint, peppermint, clove, allspice, anise and cinnamon. But nowadays you’re more likely to find artificial colors and flavors. I like my flavors to come from something other than a bottle…like, say, a pomegranate. So I wondered if I could make a classic gumdrop with pomegranate juice, sugar, and gelatin. Guess what? I did! And you can too!
That’s the gelatin softening on top of the juice, above, isn’t that wild? This is a fun little frivolous project for the season, and doesn’t take much time, especially if you boil the juice, sugar and gelatin the night before, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you get to do all the fun stuff.
You turn the pan of jellied candy out onto a sugar coated surface…
Slice it into 1/2″ slices…
And slice the slices into little cubes. Then coat all the surfaces in sugar, but not before you admire the glossy reddish purple of your pomegranate jelly.
Did you ever think you’d be making gumdrops??
- 3 Tbsp (4 envelopes) unflavored gelatin (for vegetarian options, see note below)
- 3/4 cup and 1 1/8 cup of pomegranate juice, measured separately (I used Pom pomegranate juice)
- 3 cups granulated sugar, plus more for coating the candy
- Line an 8x8 inch pan with plastic wrap. Spray the wrap with cooking spray.
- Put the 3/4 cup of pomegranate juice in a saucepan. Sprinkle it with the gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Bring the remaining 1 1/8 cup juice to a boil in a different saucepan, and then add it to the the juice and gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin.
- Add the sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer (keep it gently bubbling) for about 20-25 minutes. Stir almost constantly.
- Pour the mixture into the plastic lined pan. let cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight.
- Coat a surface with sugar and then gently lift the cold jelly out of the pan, using the plastic wrap to hold it. Turn it over onto the sugar. Coat the top with sugar.
- Slice the jelly into approximately 1/2 inch strips, and then into 1/2 inch cubes. I sprayed my knife with cooking spray at first, but then the buildup of sugar on the knife actually helps it not stick. Gelatin is very forgiving and flexible, so just slice right through and pull it apart. It will spring back into shape.
- Coat all surfaces of the candy with granulated sugar and let air dry for several hours. Then you can package them for gifts, or eat them up.
If you like this idea, think about other natural fruit bases you could use, like grape, orange, or grapefruit juice. Or use water with NATURAL FLAVORINGS and NATURAL FOOD COLOR. I should note that these turn out softer than store bought gumdrops. The texture is like a fruit jelly candy. But I like that better. The flavor of these is mild, too, especially if you’re used to all the artificially boosted flavors of today’s candy. You may want to use a little NATURAL POMEGRANATE FLAVORING to enhance it. If you want a tangier flavor, you may want to add some lemon juice to the recipe.
Are you starting to get into the holiday spirit?