Make homemade Red, White, and Blue Gumdrop Stars to celebrate any patriotic holiday like 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, or Flag Day. They’d even make great treats for Election Day.
If candy were considered one of the major food groups, my life on earth would be heavenly. I made my first batch of candy when I was in elementary school and have spent a good part of my life creating chocolates. In all those years of candy making, surprisingly, I have never attempted to make homemade gumdrops – until today.
I don’t know why I waited so long. These candies are so much better than anything you can buy in the store. They take a bit of effort to make, but they are so worth it.
I was inspired to try my hand at making gumdrops when I spotted star shaped silicone ice cube trays while shopping at Target last week. The cavities in the molds are just the right size for a yummy little sweet treat and I could immediately envision how great the candy stars would look dressed in red, white, and blue sugar.
There are several gumdrop recipes posted on-line, and I settled on one from the Better Homes and Garden’s website which uses pectin as the gelling agent and includes corn syrup which helps prevent crystallization.
My first batch turned out perfectly. These homemade sweets are soft and chewy on the inside and kind of melt in your mouth once you’ve crunched on the coating of sugar. Flavored oil can be added to enhance the taste of these little treats, and I chose green apple. You can use any oil or extract you like. You may even want to divide up your batch and use three different flavorings.
You can keep your candy clear and roll them in colored sugar or you can color your candy and roll them in plain white granulated sugar. I used bright red and blue sanding sugar and really love how vibrant the stars look.
I piled my gumdrops in a small pail, that I also found at Target. This would make a nice hostess gift or centerpiece if you are invited to a Fourth of July party.
Both kids and adults will enjoy these sweet little patriotic treats. I know I sure have!
Star Spangled Gumdrops – Red, White, and Blue Gumdrops
(makes about 1 1/4 pounds, 40-50 stars) Recipe Adapted from BHG
Just a note before you begin: I used a gas stove and All Clad pans which conduct heat really well. It took my sugar much less time to boil to temperature than called for in the original recipe. So, be sure to watch your thermometer, instead of using time as your guide.
about 1 teaspoon butter
3/4 cup water
1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin (original not low or no sugar pectin)*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
flavored oil or extract
optional, food coloring
granulated sugar or colored sanding sugar
*NOTE: You want pectin that is white or clear looking. I used Sure-Jell for this recipe. Pectin made my Ball has a brown hue to it, so I don’t suggest it for this project.
silicone molds, you’ll need 4-5 of the star shaped ice cube trays*
optional, food handling glove to help with oiling your molds
1 1/2 or 2 quart saucepan, preferably a good quality stainless steel pan
2 or 3 quart saucepan
glass bowl with spout or a glass mixing bowl
*I only had two star shaped ice cube trays, so I used another larger mold to make some other shapes, but I know you’ll need at least 4 of the star molds, maybe 5. I also saw the same ice cube trays at the Dollar Tree.
Brush vegetable oil all over the cavities of your silicone mold. I found it easiest to put on a food handling glove, dip my finger in some oil, and rub it into the star cavities. You could also use butter, and I think I’ll try that next time.
Butter the sides of a heavy 1-1/2 or 2 quart saucepan. Set aside.
In another 2 or 3 quart saucepan combine water, pectin, and baking soda. Mixture will be foamy. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the buttered saucepan pour corn syrup into the bottom. Sprinkle sugar in the center of the pan. Turn heat on medium-high and allow it to cook for one minute. Then stir gently to dissolve sugar. Be careful not to splash the sugar crystals onto the side of your saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
This took me just a few minutes, but the recipe says it can take up to 10 minutes.
Clip your candy thermometer onto the side of your pot. Cook until the thermometer registers 260 degrees Fahrenheit. You will continue to cook your sugar (ultimately you’ll want it to reach 280 degrees which is the soft crack stage,) but at this point, you need to set your pan of pectin mixture back on the stove and heat it over high heat until it comes to a boil.
Once your pot of boiling corn syrup/sugar reaches 280 degrees remove it from the heat or turn off your gas. Slowly and VERY CAREFULLY drizzle in the hot pectin, stirring slowly yet constantly. You DO NOT want to splash any of this hot boiling sugar on your hands. Once all the pectin has been poured into the saucepan, return it to medium-high heat and cook it for one more minute, then remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl, with a spout, preferably. This stops it from continuing to cook.
To flavor your gumdrops, add some flavored oil or extract, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, if flavoring the whole batch. To check if you like the flavor, fill a glass with ice water, take a small spoonful of your hot gumdrop mixture and set the spoon in the ice water. Let it set for at least 30 seconds. Remove it and touch it to make sure it is cool. Return to water, if too hot. Taste it. Adjust your flavoring accordingly.
Optional: You can divided your batch and use various flavorings, if you prefer. You can also add coloring now if you’d like. Grocery store variety food coloring will work fine. I left mine clear and used colored sugars and was very happy with the result.
Carefully pour into the silicone mold, filling each cavity to the top. Let sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours for best results. I pulled a few stars out after just a few hours, and they looked like stars, but flattened out a bit. Those left in the mold overnight, looked perfect when removed the next morning. You can see the blue star second from the right below was pulled out too soon.
To remove your gumdrops from the silicone molds, press firmly all around one of the stars then peel the candy out of the mold. Coat it in colored sanding sugar or granulated sugar. Let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before packaging.
Package in festive Fourth of July pails, boxes or bags or simply set them in a candy dish and enjoy.
Products used to make this recipe that are available on Amazon.com.
If you’re looking for other 4th of July Recipes, click the link and explore all my other Independence Day inspired food.