Thursday, 3 February 2011


When I was at boarding school, one of my classmates used to bring home-made lollipops back to hostel with her after holidays. There was a range of flavours, but my favourite was licorice. Sharon shared the recipe with me and it went into my beloved book, but I couldn't find out how to flavour the licorice ones. Of course, we lost contact after school.

When my children were little and money was tight, I used to make a lot of their sweets myself and we had a thing called 'Mom's tuck shop' every day after lunch, when they could spend a few cents from their pocket money buying sweeties. In case you're horrified by the idea of my taking money from my children, see this post on my learning blog. The lollipops were a regular feature at the tuck shop, but never in licorice, because I didn't know how to make them, and none of the baking shops could suggest anything that might work.

Nearly thirty years later, via the wonder that is Facebook, I found myself back in contact with Sharon and was able to ask her the identity of the mystery ingredient. It turns out it was aniseed oil. That sounded pretty straightforward, but that was before I discovered that aniseed oil isn't freely available in UK shops. I finally found and ordered some online, which arrived less than 24 hours later (hence the link to the purveyor, with whom I am impressed).

So yesterday, I made licorice lollipops.

And today you get the recipe.

200g sugar
125ml water
Few drops of flavouring of your choice (be adventurous - I'm trying cardamom next!)
Few drops of colourant of your choice (optional - see note below)
About 15 lolly sticks

Pour blobs onto baking paper...
  • Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar in the water, stirring all the while.
  • Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches crack point (about 150C). If you go over crack point, it will change the texture of the sweet completely, but it will still be entirely edible.
  • While this is happening, spread a sheet of baking paper on your counter top.
  • Remove from the heat and, using a fork (this is important), stir in the flavour and colour.
  • Pour blobs of the mixture onto the baking paper.
  • Press a stick into each blob, and add a little extra mixture to cover the stick.
  • Leave to set.
  • When cooled (if you have any left), wrap each lolly in cling film or wax wrap.
Note about colourant:
Bear in mind that some colourants have additives that can make kids quite hyper. Since you're already presenting them with pretty much pure sugar, you want to avoid this is possible, right? If you're only making one flavour at a time, you don't need the colourants to differentiate between them. If you're making a larger batch and a range of flavours, consider colour coding the ends of the sticks with a felt tip pen as an alternative to colouring the mixture. Just a thought. You will notice from the picture at the top that I haven't used any colour at all.

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