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Cherry Vodka Candy

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The delicate cherry vodka candies easily crack and melt in your mouth releasing a delicious cherry vodka liquid filling. These vodka candies turned out to be much better than what I was expecting and require no special equipment or ingredients, just a little patience.

Molecular gastronomy chefs Paco Torreblanca, Ferran Adria and Joan Roca have incorporated vodka and wine candy into their signature dishes. These alcoholic candies have also been given several names like pearls, pebbles and pills as chefs use them to represent different elements in the conceptualized dish. There are several variations of the technique to make them but all of them consist of filling a corn starch mold with alcohol flavored syrup and letting it set for several hours until a hard outer shell forms.

Cherry Vodka Candy

Oyster with Chablis PebblesChef Joan Roca applies this technique in his Oysters with Chablis dish. Joan Roca mixes some acacia honey with Chablis white wine to make syrup. Small drops of the syrup are sprinkled with corn starch and then dried for a couple of hours at 100 ˚C (212 ˚F) making the liquor stay in and the sugar come out of the drop. After this process they look like the small white pebbles found on the ground of the Bourgogne region in France where Chablis grapes are grown.

oyster-torreblancaChef Paco Torreblanca created “vodka pearls” for his signature dish Silver Oyster with Sea Foam, Rose Champagne and Vodka Pearl. To create the vodka pearls, Torreblanca heats sugar and water until the mixture reaches 117˚C (243˚F), then adds vodka and sets it aside to cool down before filling the starch molds. He then dries the pearls at 40˚C (104˚F) for 8 hours before flipping them and letting them set for another 6 hours.

To make the Cherry Vodka Candy I used another variation of Torreblanca’s technique in which the candy sets in the corn starch molds at room temperature for a longer period of time. It didn’t work the first time but after a couple of tweaks, the vodka candy turned out beautiful and delicious.


- 250 g (8.8 oz) granulated sugar

- 85 g (3 oz) water

- 100 ml (3.4 oz) Grey Goose Cherry Noir

- Corn starch. You’ll need a lot. I used over 1lb for a small 8” x 8” mold which only allows you to make about 9 vodka pills at a time….


Vodka Syrup

Grey Goose Cherry1- Make syrup by mixing the sugar and water in a pot and heat it until it reaches 117˚C (243˚F).

2- Carefully clean the sides of the pot with a wet brush.

3- Remove from heat and add the vodka.

4- Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes.

5- Remove the towel and carefully and very slowly pour the syrup into another pot. Repeat this process 4 or 5 times to obtain a homogeneous mix.

6- Let the syrup reach room temperature and then cool it down in the fridge in a squeeze bottle for a couple of hours. This step is not necessary but the increase in viscosity of the cold syrup helps to obtain a smooth and nicely shaped candy.

Corn Starch Molds

Vodka Candy Starch Molds

1- Using a sifter, fill a cake pan with enough corn starch to cast the molds. About an inch should be enough. I used about 1lb of corn starch to fill a small 8” by 8” cake pan.

2- Place the pan with corn starch in the oven at 120˚C (~250˚F) for 1 hour.

3- Remove the cake pan from the oven and gently press the corn starch into the pan to obtain a smooth surface with no spaces or cracks.

4- Use an object of desired shape to cast the molds in the corn starch. I used the back of a kitchen utensil that was round and had a flat end to create a cylinder mold. Leave about one inch between each mold and make them about ½ cm (1/5 inch) deeper than what you want because you are not going to fill them completely with the syrup.

Making the Cherry Vodka Candy

Vodka Candy Liquid Filling1- Fill the molds with the cold vodka syrup about ½ cm (1/5 inch) from the top. The top of the corn starch mold tends to be a little loose and may not hold the syrup as well.

2- Sift at least about 1 cm (~3/8 inch) of corn starch on top to cover the syrup.

3- Let the candy set for about 24 hours. With this process, the top of the candy is going to be round while the bottom end is going to be straight so the resulting candy is not going to be symmetrical. As explained before, Roca and Torreblanca cast a spherical mold and flip the candy at some point during the setting process to obtain a better shape. I haven’t tried this yet but you may want to try it yourself.

4- Once the vodka candy is set, carefully remove it from the corn starch mold and brush off all the extra corn starch on the surface of the vodka pill.

5- Store the cherry vodka candies in a cool and dry place. They don’t hold well for long so try to consume them on the same day.

  • zappygolight

    in making the candy would it be possible to add flavor extracts to the syrup so that the shell itself has flavor as well? would probably exchange the grams of water to off put the additional liquid, or would that not matter? i am thinking orange blossom or rose water.

    • QuantumChef

      The shell has cherry vodka flavor. Yes, the amount of liquid matters. You can try substituting part of the water or alcoholic beverage with other ingredients but you may need to adjust proportions and temperatures. Substituting some water with rose water should work without any modifications.

  • Lswyld

    Is there a way to preserve them long enough to travel? such “packed” in a jar of cornstarch and vacuum sealed ? Is there a way to preserve the outside of the candy without making it a truly hard candy or pastille? Thanks so much!

    • QuantumChef

      I really don’t know the answer but I would try keeping them in the corn starch although it may end up solidifying the inside if they are kept for a long time.

    • Yeah, right

      Dip them in chocolate and they will last for awhile.

  • Marta

    I’ve got a question about the mold -can I use a soft, silicone mold for it, instead of the cornstarch?

    • QuantumChef

      Not for this preparation. The candy hardens thanks to the reaction between the corn starch and the syrup.

  • Josh DeSpain

    Is the cornstarch reacting with simple syrup or the alcohol?

  • Rachel

    okay I just try making these 3 times, and i was having problems transferring the sugar from pan to pan. Should I do that right away, then let it sit for 5 mins then add the vodka? I’ve tried adding vodka after 5 minutes (turned the syrup hard) and letting it sit for 5 minutes then transfer (crystals started to form)

    • QuantumChef

      Add the vodka right after you remove it from the heat. Then let it rest covered. Have you tried that?

      • Rachel

        yes, and all it did was made the sugar harden.

        • QuantumChef

          Weird. Are you sure the thermometer is calibrated? Pour the vodka slowly using the side of the pot.

  • Aut

    when you say ‘repeat the process 4 or 5 times” do you mean pouring into the pot and letting sit for 5 minutes ? I just didnt know if we were supposed to reheat the syrup :/ What is the desired consistency of the sugar syrup when we put into the bottle?

    • QuantumChef

      Without reheating, just pour it a few times to cool it down.

  • Ben

    Can you have these in the fridge or freezer to chill the alcohol before eating? And if so how long would you chill them in the fridge for?

    • QuantumChef

      You probably can as long as you keep them dry in a sealed container. An hour should be enough.

  • Nathan Aylett

    Could you use whiskey instead of vodka?

    • QuantumChef

      Haven’t tried but I think it should work.

  • Guest

    would silicone moulds work ? I have a silicone ice tray that would make a nice small size

    • QuantumChef

      No, the starch is what creates the outside “crust” to hold the liquid inside.

  • Tom Snyder

    If I want to modify the recipe with a different liquor, is there a specific range of alcohol/water/sugar that must be maintained?

    • Yeah, right

      As long as the liquor is 80 proof (40% alcohol) or better will work. No change in the ratio is needed. They are also good dipped in chocolate, but you have to be gentle when dipping not to break the shell.

  • Misty Winger

    Can you use Arrowroot powder as a substitute for the cornstarch instead to create a mold?