These little drops are made with a strong brew of rosy hibiscus tea and fresh lemon. They’re not going to cure anything, but they will sooth a sore throat and calm a cough just as well as any on the market, without all the questionable ingredients. And how cool is it to be able to say you make your own cough drops?
Basically you are making a hard candy here, which is to say you take sugar plus a liquid of some kind, and boil it to 300F, (or what’s known as the hard crack stage in candy making.) All you need is a saucepan, a candy thermometer, and some kind of mold for your drops. You can also make these into cough ‘pops’ if you like, in which case all you have to do is make little blobs of the hot candy onto parchment paper and insert sticks into them. For the drops I dusted them with powdered sugar to keep them from being sticky, which also gives them a pretty frosted appearance.
I used Hibiscus tea because i love its citrus flavor and the pretty color, but you can use all kinds of liquids to flavor your drops. Brew the tea nice and strong for the best flavor payoff. I think I may try Earl Grey tea next time. I assume you could use clear fruit juice for these as well.
Silicone candy molds are fairly easy to find, look at craft stores, or ONLINE. Silicone is a fantastic substance; it’s flexible, nothing sticks to it, and it can withstand all kinds of abuse. Molds are inexpensive and you’ll find lots of uses for them, from ice cubes to chocolates. If you want cute little shapes like I made, you’ll need one. If you don’t have a mold, you can actually make your own mold for these drops using a base of confectioner’s sugar. Smooth out a thick layer of it in a pan, and then find something small and round to make little indents into the sugar, the size and shape you want your cough drops to be. The sugar holds the shape perfectly while you carefully spoon the hot sugar mixture into the indentations. After the candy hardens you can toss them around in the same sugar and remove them.
- 1 cup strongly brewed hibiscus tea
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- confectioner's sugar for coating
- Prepare 2 mini silicone candy molds by spraying them lightly with coking spray.
- Put the tea and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil until the thermometer reads 300F. DON'T STIR. If you mixture starts to scorch towards the end of the cooking, turn the heat down slightly.
- Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stand back as it may spit.
- Gently spoon the hot mixture into the candy mold or molds. You need to work fairly quickly because the candy will start to set up as it cools.
- Let the molds sit until set, or put them in the refrigerator to speed things up.
- Un-mold the drops and lightly coat them with powdered sugar to keep them from sticking. I used a clean toothbrush to brush away any excess sugar. You can wrap them individually with waxed paper if you like.
- Store in an airtight container.
This is not a project for kids, the molten sugar mixture is very very hot. Recipe adapted from Instructables
If you want to take it a step further you can certainly go in a more herby direction and use echinacea, horehound, peppermint, eucalyptus, ginger, or even turmeric! You can add pure essential oils for lots of different flavors…find food grade essential oils HERE…
tips for success:
- I have found that thermometers are super unreliable. Test yours by setting it in a pan of boiling water — it should read 212F. If it doesn’t, take note of the difference and adjust for your recipes. It’s essential to get the boiling sugar mixture up to the hard crack stage. If it doesn’t reach that temperature, your candy will not be hard like a traditional cough drop.
- That’s it! That’s really the only tricky part of this project.