Monday, January 02, 2012

Looka what I made!: Homemade gummies (and Cajun Spice Mix -- oh my!)

In the interest of showing kindness not only to my loved ones but also my bank account this holiday season, I decided to roll up my sleeves and craft at least part of my gifts to my nearest and dearest.  As you might imagine, it was easy to come up with make-able presents for the lady-types in my life, but the man-types took a bit more thought.  Particularly My Favourite Brother.  I floundered around before I hit upon something good --- instead of buying him his traditional bag of gummy bears, I decided to MAKE some instead!  They turned out so great that I thought I'd share the process.  Also, my parents' kitchen is so sparkling clean and sunny that it was screaming to have a tutorial photographed in it.

Without further ado, my homemade gummy recipe!

If you've ever made regular Jell-O, you can handle this.  Especially if you've ever made regular Jell-O incorrectly!

First off, our ingredients:

Hey look, you can see my iPhone's reflection!

A small pot, a measuring cup, some unflavoured gelatin and some FLAVOURED gelatin.  Oh, and a mold of some kind.  I went out and invested in some of those plastic candy molds (you can find them in Bulk Barn, Michael's, baking supply stores, etc).  If you're an Advent Calendar enthusiast, you can also save the plastic backing for festive gummy-making next year.

To start, pour the gelatin mixture into the pot.

I did not intentionally coordinate my nail colour with the Jell-O, I swear!

Next you'll want to add the unflavoured gelatin.  How much is really dependent upon your own taste.  I made a few batches before I found the consistency I liked -- just over 1/4 cup of the plain stuff per package of Jell-O.  Dad was less discerning and happily ate every last bite of the testers. 

Add a half cup of water and put it on the stove to boil.  It's gonna look like a gross lumpy mess, but never fear -- the magic of chemistry will take care of that post haste. Stir often to avoid an unpleasant chewy skin on the bottom of your pot!

Gloop gloopity glop.

Once all of the crystals have dissolved and you've got a nice hot pot of sweet shiny goodness, you'll want to put that goodness into some sort of heat-proof container that will allow you to pour with reasonable accuracy into the molds -- I used a glass measuring cup with a little pour spout. I found that pouring the mixture into this resulted in some foam at the top which would make for cloudy, less pretty gummies, so I skimmed that off with a spoon before pouring into the molds*. I let it sit for a minute or two to thicken up.

All attempts to take pictures of this stage of production resulted in sticky, delicious disaster, so you'll have to use your imaginations.  I recommend pouring s-l-o-w-l-y until the mixture is bubbled out JUST above the level of the mold (the thickness of the mixture will allow for this).

Your index finger will take care of any stray sweetness...

I'm an impatient sumbitch, so I stuck the molds in the freezer to speed up the hardening process.  T-minus ten minutes to Gummytown!

Once you've got them out of the freezer (or fridge if patience is one of your virtues), it's time to peel them out of there.  Don't be shy!  These little suckers will stand up to a lot of pushing and pulling, so dig right in there!

Almost.... in... my... belly...

I laid them all out on a plate to "dry", since they're a bit sticky when they first come out of the mold.  You could probably also use corn starch to de-sticky-fy them, but I didn't feel the need.

The purple ones are grape, and the red ones are cherry, raspberry and strawberry.

And that, my friends, is that.  Pretty simple, huh?  I don't have any pictures of My Favourite Brother opening them on Christmas morning due to my commitment to not annoying the crap out of him over the holidays, but since he ate most of the box on Christmas morning, I'm going to consider this recipe a success!

For those who might be curious, my other homemade gifts were as follows: crocheted slouchy berets from baby Alpaca wool for mom and Sis-in-law, small plaques reading "Home" for my aunties from this tutorial I found on A Beautiful Mess, and a big batch of Cajun Spice Mix in magnetic jars for the aunties, my Dames and my dad.

AIEEEE, cher!

Cajun Seasoning Mix

3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme

It goes great in pretty much anything.  I think I'm going to try it out on sweet potato fries next...

*After writing this paragraph, the word "pour" lost all meaning to me.  Does that ever happen to anyone else?

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