Jelly beans have been a popular candy for decades, but most home cooks would scoff at the idea of making them at home. Surprisingly, it's not difficult to produce quality, gourmet jelly beans in your own kitchen. Patience, imagination, and some basic instructions are all you need!
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon plain gelatin
1 cup pulp free fruit juice or pre-made drink mix (Margarita, Pina Colada, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon salt Bowl of ice cubes
1/2 dozen jelly bean molds (available online)
Wax paper Colander
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon extract (a flavor that will compliment the filling of the jelly bean)
Food coloring (any color)
Stainless steel pot with a tight-fitting lid OR a mason jar with a lid.
Colander Cookie sheets
Step 1: The Middle
1) Combine the 1 1/2 cups water, 2 1/1 cups sugar, and the gelatin in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, allow the liquid to come to a boil slowly. If the syrup heats too quickly, it is likely to burn before it reaches the desired temperature. Stir slowly and continuously while the mixture heats up.
2) Check the temperature of the syrup from time to time with a candy thermometer. The desired temperature is 230 degrees. Do not try to speed up the process by raising the heat too high! If the syrup is too hot, the finished product will be too hard and the distinct chewiness of the jelly bean ruined. It will take about 25 minutes for the syrup to reach 230 degrees, so patience is key. IF the syrup is heating too quickly, lower the temperature and continue cooking, monitoring the temperature carefully.
3) Once the syrup has reached 230 degrees, remove the saucepan from the heat and place it on top of the ice in the bowl to stop the temperature of the syrup from rising further.
4) While the saucepan is on the ice, add the juice or mix of your choice and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix the syrup and flavoring together thoroughly and quickly, then allow the syrup to cool completely.
5) Spray the jelly bean pans lightly with the cooking spray. Fill the molds with the syrup, keeping the edges as neat as possible. This can be done with a spoon, but some people find it easier using a food syringe or a freezer bag with a very small corner snipped off to pipe the syrup into the molds like icing. Any method is effective and the choice is up to the cook. However it is done, it should be accomplished quickly to avoid the syrup becoming too thick or gummy as it stands.
6) Allow the jelly beans to stand in the molds for 4-6 hours or overnight to become firm.
7) Spread wax paper on a flat surface and sprinkle with a good amount of cornstarch. Pop the jelly beans out of the molds and set them on the cornstarch. Throw jelly beans pans in the freezer for about 10 minutes if stubborn jelly beans that won't easily leave the molds. Sprinkle with more cornstarch or gently stir the jelly beans around in the cornstarch with your fingers, making sure that no two jelly beans are touching. Allow the jelly beans to sit until they are dry. This can take several hours or overnight, depending what time you began the process.
8) Once the jelly beans are dry, use the wax paper to transfer the jelly beans and cornstarch into a colander. Shake until all of the excess cornstarch is off the jelly beans. Move on to Step 2: The Shell.
Step 2: The Shell
1) In a pot or jar, combine the cup of sugar and the 1/2 water. Add the extract of your choice, any food coloring, and mix well.
2) Add the jelly beans to the mixture. The goal is to mimic a rock tumbler to coat the jelly beans. Tilt the jar and rotate the jar, keeping the angle the same at all times OR put the lid on the pot tightly and swirl the jelly beans in a circular motion while holding the lid, keeping your movements smooth and steady. Both methods should maintain a steady pace and continue for roughly 15 to 20 minutes, or until the jelly beans appear well-coated when checked.
3) Drain the excess liquid (there should not be a lot if the jelly beans are properly coated) by dumping the jelly beans into a colander.
4) Cover cookie sheets with wax paper and place the jelly beans on the paper without allowing them to touch. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours, or until completely dry and hardened. It is recommended that you turn the jelly beans over once the top side is dry to get them to dry evenly.
5) Once done, the jelly beans can be stored in a jar or airtight container or poured into decorative cellophane bags to give away as party favors or holiday treats. *Experiment with flavors as you please! Try any of these on their own, in combination with each other, or something that is all you!
Juices and Drink Mixes:
- Pina Colada
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Fruit Punch
- Cayenne Pepper