When you're gluten free, there's that moment when you realize that … you can't have traditional licorice. But then there's that moment when you find out that you can make your own gluten free red cherry licorice at home—and it's easy!
Really good gluten-free licorice is not an easy thing to come by. There are a few packaged brands, but they're crazy lunatic expensive, not to mention just plain awful. If you freak out at the thought of cooking sugar, stop that right this minute! We'll be together every step of the way. You do need a candy thermometer, but those are super cheap and really very useful. Without a thermometer, you will either cook the mixture too long (and burn the butter or end up with hard candy), or too little, and the candy won't harden. Look at what you have waiting for you. Gorgeous, glorious gluten free red cherry licorice. Better than any licorice you have ever had, even B.G.F. (before.gluten.free).
Red cherry licorice was always my faaaaaavorite. And then there was an incident with overeating Twizzlers when I was a kid. The aftermath wasn't pretty, and wasn't easily forgotten. But now I'm back, baby, and I'm loving every minute of it! Licorice is that strange candy that generally has wheat flour in it. It helps to stabilize the candy, and make it less like soft caramel without making it into hard candy.
I love you so much that I'm even willing to show you these less-than-gorgeous photographs of the sugar mixture, as it cooks. Told you I'd be with you always and forever.
Oh, and I tried cutting the candy into strips with every manner of knife – from sharp to dull, clean to serrated. Then I tried kitchen shears. Bingo!
If you're really into black licorice, you need black food coloring + anise flavoring oil. No biggie. LorAnn flavoring oils are all gluten-free, and they're very true-to-taste. Me? I'm all about the gluten-free red cherry licorice.
RECIPE NOTE: I don't like using molasses in this recipe because it has a very strong taste and color, both of which I end up having to overcome with more food coloring and more flavoring oil. If you don't have/can't find/don't want to use Lyle's Golden Syrup, try honey.
Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice
1/2 cup (70 g) all purpose gluten free flour (any of my recommended blends will do)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cherry flavoring oil (LorAnn brand is gluten-free)
Red gel food coloring, as desired (about 1/4 teaspoon)
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (168 g) light corn syrup
1/2 cup (156 g) sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons (84 g) Lyle’s golden syrup (can substitute an equal amount honey or molasses)
Grease well a 9-inch square baking dish with butter or vegetable shortening, and set it aside. Assemble your ingredients next to the stovetop. In a small bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the flavoring oil and a measuring spoon, plus the food coloring, to the side, within arm’s reach.
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or honey or molasses). Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium so the mixture maintains a slow boil, and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Any higher and the butter will burn. Any lower and the licorice won’t hard enough as it cools.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the flour mixture. Working quickly, mix everything well. Add the flavoring oil and food coloring (I generally use a toothpick to add gel food coloring), and mix well once again.
Pour the candy into the prepared baking dish, and shake it back and forth so that it is in an even layer. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator, and, with a thin spatula or other thin kitchen implement, remove the candy in one piece from the baking dish onto a flat surface. With kitchen shears, cut the square of candy in half, and then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Twist the strips at both ends to create the traditional licorice spiral. Allow to sit at room temperature until slightly hardened, and serve.