Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hard Candy--Mexican Mint Marigold

My MIL has a huge row of Mexican Mint Marigold growing along her privacy fence. The row stretches about 40 feet with plant clumps every 1 foot. She has told me many times to bring some plants home, try it, try it, I hear they make candy from it in Mexico... can be used instead of Tarragon in cooking... so finally this weekend. I did.

Mexican Mint Marigold Hard Candy

Step 1: Herbal Tea infusion
1 large handful/bunch of Mexican Mint Marigold (or any herb), stems and all (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup water

Boil water. Meanwhile, use cool water to rinse surface dirt from the herbs. Unless the herbs are really dirty, be very quick with the rise, you don't want to wash off the tasty plant oils. Put herbs into a heat proof bowl and pour hot water over the herbs. Cover the bowl and allow to steep for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Scoop out the herbs, strain if necessary, reserving the liquid. Remeasure the tea and add water to equal 1 cup total liquid.

Step 2: Hard Candy
1 cup herbal tea infusion (see step 1)
2 tbs corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
candy thermometer
1 tsp powered sugar for dusting the finished candy--optional, but prevents sticking

Prepare cooling dish by spreading silpat pan liner or wax paper onto a cookie sheet.
In a small saucepan over low heat, boil the herbal tea, corn syrup and granulated sugar, stirring constantly until temperature reaches 280°F, or soft crack stage. About 35 minutes.

Immediately pour onto prepared cooling dish and allow to cool. When cool, break into bite sized pieces and dust with powered sugar.

**Common sense warning** only use herbs that you know have not been sprayed with pesticides, because illness and death is not a nice side effect when you want to enjoy a piece of candy.

Options and hints:

* For evenly sized pieces, use a large flat bladed knife to press score lines into the candy as it cools. This works best after the candy has cooled for about 10 minutes and has formed a skin across the surface.

* Neatly placed drops of hot candy across the cooling dish also make great smooth edged lozenges.

* It is possible to make lozenges by rolling the partially cooled candy into balls. This is very tricky, it requires the exact perfect temperature of the candy. It looks great if you can get it just right.
*This recipe can be used with any herb to make candy. Horehound candy was the basis for this recipe, but I have modified it to make rosemary candy, homemade mint candy, etc.
*If using a herb for its medicinal and not flavor properties, 1-2 drops of food grade wintergreen oil can be added at the end of the cooking time to improve flavor.

The original recipe came from a Martha Stewart Living Magazine in March 1999 and has been well used and modified by me ever since.

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