Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentines Conversation Hearts

Here is another special holiday recipe. Just like candy corn at Halloween growing up conversation hearts were Valentines Day. These hearts are vegan if you use the agar and agave, unlike the store bought ones which contain gelatin and by using natural food dyes and organic flavorings they are chemical free! They also taste so much better then the chalky hearts you find at the store.

Candy Hearts
2 tbs agar flakes or 2 tsp agar powder*
3/4 cup water
2 tsp agave or honey
9 cups powdered sugar
Flavor extracts*
Food Colors
Extra Powdered Sugar

Heat water, agar, and honey in a pan over low heat till agar is dissolved. Be sure to watch closely and stir constantly add extra water 2-3 tbs at a time if needed. Be sure to stir the mixture close to constantly you do not want it to burn. Beat together the agar mixture and 1 cup powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Add another cup of sugar mix until incorporated. Continue adding sugar 1 cup at a time mixing well after each addition and periodically scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Continue to add sugar until a stiff dough forms you may not need all of the 9 cups of sugar before the stiff dough forms but you should use most of it. If the dough stiffens up too soon you may need to add up to 1/4 cup more water in order to incorporate more sugar into the dough.

Dust a work surface with sugar. Place the dough on the work surface and knead dough until satiny and not sticky anymore. Divide the dough and add colors and flavors. About ⅛ -¼ tsp flavoring and 4-5 drops of color for each section of dough. Knead in the color until evenly distributed, this takes quite a bit of work since the dough is very stiff. I knead, roll, and rub the dough until the color is even. If the dough feels very dry dip your fingertips in water and place a few drops at a time on the dough. It will get sticky very easily if it gets too sticky add more powdered sugar.

Dust the work surface with more sugar and roll out to desired thickness between ¼ -1 inch. For smaller hearts the dough should be rolled thick for bigger hearts roll the dough thinner. Cut out desired shapes and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with a towel and let dry for at least 24 hrs.I like the flip my hearts about halfway though drying time to evenly dry out both sides.If you can wait even longer they get more crunchy each day. I think they were completely dry all the way through by day 4 but then there was only a few left by then!

Messages can be written on the hearts with a little bit of food coloring and a toothpick. Be sure to wait until the hearts are completely dry before writing on them or else the dye will run.

*Flavors we used in our hearts

If you would rather use gelatin replace the agar with 2 tsp gelatin, decrease the water to 1/2 cup and increase the sugar to 11 cups.

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