Conversation Hearts · GF (about 4 cups )
Oh, Conversation Hearts.
I've said it before: Conversation Hearts inevitably read like a series of drunken text messages from your ex on Valentine’s Day. SUP BABE. CALL ME. LUV U. L8R.
Yeah. Let’s just skip the conversation part. Not to mention writing tiny messages on little candy hearts is insanely difficult. If you really feel the need for your candy to communicate, try writing a single letter on each with a food decorating pen and playing a Valentine’s Day themed game of scrabble.
The dough for these candies is really forgiving, so don’t hesitate to let your kids get involved with the kneading. If you like, skip rolling and cutting the candies and let the kids mush and mold it into shapes like they would with Play-Doh. Just remember, big shapes won’t dry out very well, so keep ‘em on the smaller side.
1/4 ounce gelatin
4 ounces Sprite
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
40 ounces powdered sugar
For white: 1 to 2 drops wintergreen extract
For yellow: 1/4 ounce freeze dried bananas, ground into a powder
For pink: 1/4 ounce freeze dried strawberries or cherries, ground into a powder
For green: 3 to 4 drops key lime extract
For orange: 1/4 teaspoon orange extract plus 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
For purple: one drop clove oil
Assorted food colorings
Bloom the gelatin with the Sprite in the bottom of a mixing bowl. After 5 minutes, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt the gelatin, or microwave in short 5 second bursts until melted.
Use a hand or stand mixer and mix in the salt along with the powdered sugar, a cup or two at a time. Keep adding the powdered sugar until you have stiff fondant-like dough (very much the texture of Play-Doh). You may not need all of the powdered sugar.
Turn the dough out onto the counter top and knead until smooth.
Divide into as many portions as you would like colors/flavors and keep any dough you’re not currently using wrapped in plastic to prevent it from crusting over.
Knead in the colors and flavors until homogenous. Taste a pinch of the dough and add more extract or powdered fruit to suit your taste.
Roll the dough to about 3/8” thickness and cut out shapes. Alternately you can mold the dough into whatever shapes you like, just keep them on the small side so they can dry through and through.
Arrange the candies on a parchment lined sheet pan and air dry for 48 hours. After 24 hours, flip all the hearts over so they can dry on both sides. Compared to candies flavored with extracts, the ones made with freeze dried fruit won’t dry out quite as hard and will retain a slightly softer texture (they will still be crisp, just not as rock-hard as classic Conversation Hearts).
Feb 12, 2012 · 1:21 PM
@Michelle, you may absolutely march forward with your merlot hearts!! The Sprite just gives a faint acidity to the hearts, a splash of lemon juice would be too much and citric acid (what’s in the real hearts) is hard for most people to get. So Sprite’s just there to give a neutral acidity that’s just as nice with mint as it is with banana. The merlot hearts will work dandy, just pick flavors that will work with the flavor rather than against it (berries sound good!).
Feb 12, 2012 · 9:26 PM
How cute and fun! Thanks for sharing!
· Chandra@The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen · http://www.pandpkitchen.com
Feb 12, 2012 · 9:59 PM
These are so cool! I love making candies and will totally give this a try!
· Vicki @ WITK · http://wildeinthekitchen.blogspot.com
Feb 13, 2012 · 12:39 AM
This is genius! I love how easy it is!
Oh, and I voted for you! I’d love to see a girl from the South beat all those big chefs in big cities!
· DessertForTwo · http://www.dessertfortwo.com
Feb 13, 2012 · 1:13 AM
This is awesome! I have to try this for Valentine’s Day
· Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen · http://mysanfranciscokitchen.com
Feb 13, 2012 · 10:50 AM
@Chandra, thank you!
@Vicki, take pictures for me!
@twEricaB, ahh, I know what you mean. Wish I could have launched these sooner too.
@DessertForTwo, thanks for voting, that means a ton to me!
@Kristi, let me know how they turn out! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Feb 13, 2012 · 11:16 AM
great!! I voted and hope you can reach the prize
· Van Anh · http://fuchsia511.wordpress.com
Feb 13, 2012 · 7:39 PM
@Van, I appreciate it, thank you!
@Rucy, ah! Let me know how the turn out! I just bought a package of agar to try and test drive a vegan version too; you may beat me to it, though it’s on my agenda for this week.
@Michelle, replace the Sprite with water and use 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Voila! What a well stocked pantry you have!
Feb 13, 2012 · 8:05 PM
They do read like drunken messages, don’t they? Hilarious! And the hearts look amazing, and probably taste a lot better than the commercial ones too.
· Cucina49 · http://www.cucina49.blogspot.com
Feb 13, 2012 · 10:36 PM
These hearts look amazing!!!
· Krissy's Creations · http://www.krissys-creations.com
Feb 14, 2012 · 10:02 AM
@Cucina49, I wouldn’t say a lot better; they taste just like the ones I remember. But the definitely taste better than the ones on the market today, which have a scary chemical flavor.
@Krissy, thanks dear, happy Valentine’s Day!
Feb 14, 2012 · 7:48 PM
Very cool. Unfortunately, one of my daughters does not do well w/ sugar. Hoping to find a way to make these kinds of things with maple syrup/honey/maple sugar. Any thoughts?
Congrats on the nom! Voted for you.
· Dawn (KitchenTravels) · http://www.KitchenTravels.com
Feb 15, 2012 · 6:15 PM
@Dawn, thanks so much! I don’t know that I have any alternatives for you, this recipe relies on sugar for structure in a way the invert sugars just can’t match. I will keep my eye out for some clever alternatives!
Apr 25, 2012 · 5:12 PM
@skydel, I don’t, I’m afraid. I never use it, so never needed to work up a reliable recipe.
May 21, 2012 · 12:08 PM
Adorable hearts! What a cute project to get the kids active in the kitchen. They will have a lot of fun with this.
· Trader Joes Recipes · http://traderjoesrecipes.net
May 21, 2012 · 10:50 PM
@TJR, thank you.
Oct 18, 2012 · 12:49 PM
I’d love to make these for my sisters baby shower this weekend. What did you use / what are my options for adding letters to the candies? Also, I thought about simmering the Sprite with a sliced beet to infuse the red color instead of using food coloring. Will that screw it up?
Oct 19, 2012 · 9:46 AM
Hi bbonaroo! I think your beet idea is fabulous, it would give a ton of natural color and not a whole lot of flavor, so it’s perfect. You can buy edible food pens at crafty stores like Michaels. Just ask someone there to direct you to them!
Jan 24, 2013 · 8:24 AM
Hi Shannon! I got mine in a little set of “playing card” cutters, so it had tiny aces and spades too. I think places like Michael’s would sell them, but Amazon or Etsy may be your best bet so you don’t have to run around town finding one.
Feb 07, 2013 · 3:27 PM
Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the <a href=“http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/Childhood-favourite-foods-recipe-links-Food-Friday.html#”> link </a>. Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.
Feb 15, 2013 · 9:06 PM
@Dawn (Kitchen Travels) – I know it’s a year later, but here’s a solution for you: I’ve found that coconut sugar, whirled in the blender or food processor with one Tbs cornstarch for every cup of coconut sugar, makes an excellent powdered sugar. If your daughter can handle maple and honey, she can probably handle coconut ok too. The only downside is, any candy made with coconut sugar will have a light brown tint to it…
Feb 16, 2013 · 10:06 AM
Hi JJTraw! You’ve got me so intrigued! I’ve never tried coconut sugar, now I’m curious! Thanks for sharing your trick.
Feb 16, 2013 · 11:06 PM
Hi Debi! Absolutely! This recipe is extremely friendly to mushing, mashing, and other kid-approved smushing techniques.
Mar 26, 2013 · 9:07 AM
Hi Candy Maker, you can absolutely make these in bigger batches, but I don’t have any tips for you on drying them out any faster, unless you own a giant factory! Haha. Some things just take time.
Aug 20, 2013 · 5:24 PM
Ooh, I need to try these! I’m having an 80s birthday party, so I’m going slightly nostalgic on the snacks I’m making I’ll be trying your oreos and probably chocolate chip cookies too, but can I just ask, how long do the conversation hearts keep? I’m hoping to make them over the weekend and have them on the following Friday, is that ok if I stick them in a metal tin?
Aug 20, 2013 · 11:14 PM
Hey Mightyjojo! omg, your party sounds awesome, wish I could come!! The conversation hearts will keep forever so make ‘em as far in advance as you like. Have fun!!