Jessie Oleson by Cake Spy
Are you sending the wrong message with your conversation hearts? Do you really want, for instance, to say “text me” to someone from whom you’d rather not receive digital missives, or to downplay your serious crush by leaving it at “U R Special”? No, tell them how you really feel by making your own personalized homemade conversation hearts. They’re surprisingly easy to make, and you have complete freedom to set the tone you want—whether it’s sweet, snarky, or confessional.
Cakespy note: It’s essential that you plan ahead if you’re going to deliver your Hearts on time. While these candies don’t take long to make, they do require at least 24 hours to dry before you can write on them. If you rush this process, the ink will bleed.
aBout 100 small or 70 large Conversation hearts
© 2014 Jessie Oleson / Running Press · Reproduced with permission.
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Place the gelatin, water, and corn syrup in a small microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the gelatin is well distributed. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds and stir again, making sure the gelatin has dissolved.
Pour the gelatin mixture into the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Alternately, if you are using a hand mixer, pour it into a large bowl. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix at low speed until the mix- ture is smooth. Add another cup of sugar, again mixing on low speed until it liquefies. Continue to add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until the full two pounds of powdered sugar has been added. Periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. The candy will progress from a thin, watery liquid to a very stiff dough.
Dust your countertop (or a large cutting board) with confectioners’ sugar and scrape the candy out onto the work surface; it will be very sticky. Generously dust the top of the ball of candy with powdered sugar and knead the candy like bread dough: fold the ball of dough over onto itself, then use the heel of your hand to push it forward and down. Give the candy a quarter-turn and repeat the process, dusting it with more powdered sugar as often as necessary to pre- vent it from sticking. Knead until the candy is satiny and no longer sticky.
Decide how many colors/flavors of conversation hearts you want to make, and divide the candy dough into that many portions. Flatten each portion into a palm-size disc. Add a few drops of food coloring and flavoring extract to the center of the disc and fold it over on itself. (It’s a good idea to wear disposable plastic gloves during this step to keep your hands free of colors and odors.) Knead the dough ball, just as you did before, until the color is evenly dispersed throughout the candy and all streaks have disappeared. Repeat this process with the remaining candy balls and colors/flavors.
Dust the work surface and a rolling pin with confectioners’ sugar, and roll out one of the candy balls to your desired thickness. [Small store-bought con- versation hearts are about 1?4-inch thick. I find that this thickness works well for small hearts (under 1 inch in diameter), but it makes larger heart sizes rather difficult to eat. However, the thickness is entirely a matter of personal preference.]
Use heart-shaped cutters to cut the rolled candy. The size of the cutouts is up to you: smaller hearts look more realistic, but larger hearts are easier to write messages on. Transfer the hearts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reroll the scraps if you’d like to cut out more candy. Repeat with the remaining candy balls.
Allow your hearts to air-dry for at least 24 hours before you write on them. This step is very important, because any extra moisture in the hearts will cause the ink to run and look blurry.
When the candies are thoroughly dry, use the food writing markers to write messages or draw designs on the hearts. Store your conversation hearts in an airtight container at room temperature.