You know those chalky little multicolored heart candies that make an appearance every year at Valentine’s Day? Sweet, festive, and always baring a sappy, lovey-dovey message, they’re are a holiday classic.
Conversation hearts are a go-to gift for V-Day, but they have their drawbacks. Have you ever been the unfortunate recipient of an awkward heart message, like when a platonic (or so you thought) friend gives you one that says, “I love you”? Or perhaps worse yet, you were the one giving the inappropriate message (note: it’s probably not a good idea to give a “kiss me” heart to your best friend’s boyfriend). And if we’re being honest here, they aren’t the most delicious of V-Day sweets. Chocolate or conversation hearts? The choice is pretty obvious. And yet we still eat the tiny treats anyway.
Admit it: you eat them every year, even though they aren’t particularly tasty.
Why does it have to be that way? Why can’t you have cute, romantic heart candies that taste as good as they look? Why can’t you customize the messages to avoid social blunders and miscommunications?
Fear no longer, my little cookies. There is a solution: make your own conversation hearts.
Homemade Conversation Hearts are the perfect sweet treat to make for Valentine’s Day, and I can give you several reasons why:
- You can customize the messages! Profess your love to that special someone. Tell that guy at work how much of a creep he is. Remind your friends how awesome they are. The possibilities are endless!
- Make your favorite flavors. You won’t believe all the different kinds of extracts there are out there: vanilla, almond, raspberry, mint, lemon, orange, bubblegum, and more! Choose your favorites and leave out the ones you don’t like.
- These taste so much better than store-bought. They flavors are more prominent and the texture isn’t chalky. They’re actually a little bit creamy in the center. So, that means no breaking you teeth like you often do on the ones from a box.
Now, if those reasons aren’t enough for you, let me give you one more: nothing says “I love you” or “I care about you” like a homemade gift. Your loved ones will go crazy for these homemade heart-shaped cuties. They’ll be so impressed, but most importantly, they’ll appreciate the time and effort you put into making them. Plus, they’ll get a kick out of those customized messages.
Think making candy is hard? Think again. there’s no thermometer required, and it’s not quite as scientific and exact like candy-making typically is. Don’t believe me? Then watch the video below and join me in the kitchen to make these colorful candies!
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- You need two days to make these. The actual prep doesn’t take that long, but they need at least 24 hours to dry or the edible ink will bleed all over when you try to write on them.
- You can make however many colors/flavors you like. I made pink/almond extract, purple/raspberry extract, and white/vanilla extract. If you’re looking to match the classic conversation hearts, they include: white/mint, yellow/banana, orange/orange, green/lime, purple/grape, and pink/cherry.
- Food dye stains, so you can wear plastic gloves to avoid staining your skin (although it washes out relatively easily). If you get food dye on your counter, some cleaner with a bit of bleach in it will take it right out.
- Work with the dough quickly because it starts to dry out and will become hard to work with. If this happens, use a tiny bit of water to moisten it again.
- You can find the edible food markers at craft stores, and sometimes in the grocery store in the baking aisle.
- I cut the recipe in half because it makes a ton of candies, but I’ve included the full recipe below. You can make the whole recipe or cut it in half depending on how many hearts you want.
- You can use whatever sized heart-shaped cutters that you want, but I don’t recommend going too small because you won’t be able to write on them.
Homemade Conversation Hearts
yield: about 70-100 conversation hearts
- 1 packet (1/4 ounces, or 2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 2 pounds (one bag) confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting your work surface
- Assorted flavoring extracts of your choice (I used almond extract, vanilla, and raspberry)
- Assorted food colors, your choice
- Small heart-shaped cutters
- Food coloring markers (I used Wilton Foodwriters)
Place the corn syrup, gelatin, and water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the gelatin is well-distributed. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds, so the gelatin dissolves, and stir well. (Or, you can do this stove-top over low heat).
Pour the gelatin mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add one cup of confectioners’ sugar and turn the mixer to low, mixing until the sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that the sugar all gets mixed in.
Continue to add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well, until all of the 2 pounds is added. While you’re mixing, periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Continue mixing at low to medium-low speed until it progresses from a thin, watery liquid to a glaze-like texture to an extremely thick dough.
Once all of the sugar is incorporated and your mixture is thickened, dust a work surface with some of your confectioners’ sugar and scrape the candy out onto the work surface. The candy will be very sticky and stiff. Generously dust the top of the ball of candy with confectioners’ sugar, and begin to knead the candy like bread dough, folding the ball of dough over onto itself, then use the heel of your hand to push it down. Give the candy a quarter-turn, and repeat the process, dusting it with more confectioners’ sugar as often as necessary to prevent it from sticking to the board or your hands. Knead until the candy is no longer sticky, but smooth. I found it kind of like the texture of a pliable clay.
Decide how many colors and flavors of conversation hearts you want to make, and divide the candy dough into that many portions. To flavor and color the candy, take one of the balls and flatten it into a palm-sized disc. Add a few drops of food coloring and a small dot of flavoring extract to the center of the disc, and fold it over on itself. Knead the dough ball, just as you did before, until the color is evenly dispersed throughout the candy, and all streaks have disappeared. You may want to taste-test a tiny piece to decide if you need more flavoring. Repeat this process with remaining balls of candy dough until all of the bits are colored and flavored.
Note: As you finish coloring each ball of dough, wrap each securely in plastic wrap so that they wouldn’t dry out while you finished the rest.
Dust your work surface and a rolling pin with confectioners’ sugar, and roll out one of the candy balls to your desired thickness. Be aware that the thinner you roll it, the more fragile the candy will be.
Use heart-shaped cutters to cut hearts out of the rolled candy, and transfer the hearts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Smaller hearts are more realistic, but larger hearts are easier for writing messages. Once you have cut out your hearts, you can re-roll the scraps to get more shapes out of the candy. Repeat with remaining candy balls.
Allow your hearts to air-dry for at least 24 hours before writing on them. This step is VERY important, because the extra moisture in the hearts will cause the ink to run if you do not let them dry properly.
After the hearts have dried, use the food writing markers to write the messages that come from your heart. Store your conversation hearts in an airtight container at room temperature.