A very adventurous woman I occasionally worked for wrote to me with an unusual request. She lives part of the time on her boat sailing the world, and wanted to send a friend who has everything a birthday gift of homemade black licorice, which is his favorite. She is a wonderful cook herself, but living on a ship makes it difficult to find ingredients like black food coloring and anise extract. She saw the recipe in the January 2013 issue of Saveur.
I took on the challenge and searched out the ingredients. I was able to find them all at Whole Foods, Publix and a local baking store, but they are also available through several sources on the internet (which saves gas and lots of time driving around).
I haven’t made alot of candy, not because I don’t like it, probably because I do! This challenge inspired me to try some other ideas I’ve had, and I will share my experiments on future posts.
Homemade Black Licorice Twists
8 tbs. unsalted butter, plus more
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbs. anise extract/oil
1 tbs. black food coloring (for candy)
I highly recommend gathering all your incredients, portioning out the flour and preparing the baking sheet before beginning to make the candy on the stove. A candy thermometer is also needed for this recipe.
Line a glass 8″ square baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease it with butter. Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, milk, molasses and salt in a heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the temperature on the candy thermometer is 265 degrees. Remove the pan from the stove and gradually stir food coloring and extract. Add more coloring if you want a darker color. Slowly incorporate the flour, stirring it around to be certain it is all mixed in, otherwise it will stand out against the black color of the licorice.
Chill until firm and cool, at least 30-45 minutes. I chilled this about an hour.
Invert the pan onto a cutting board and remove the paper. It is easiest to use a pastry cutter to cut the ropes. I made them about 1/4 inch thick, twist them from each end for an authentic look. Place them on baking sheets and chill until set. This will keep longer if refrigerated.
The mixture is pretty sticky and thick, I initially tried to cut this with a knife, but the pastry cutter made it much easier. These can also be shaped into squares like carmels if you prefer over the skinny twists.
Wrap it up in a beautiful box with a high quality black satin ribbon and your gift is ready!