Cherry Vodka Candy
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.
Chef 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.
Chef 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….
1- 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
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
1- 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.