Ok, so these are not black and they don’t contain licorice BUT they TASTE just like black licorice! And trust me, you are looking at a black licorice expert. Is is by far my all time favorite candy, black licorice and I have a long time love affair. It started when I was in my mother’s womb, seriously. Through the duration of her pregnancy she craved black licorice 24/7 and she ate it, 27/8. It’s in my blood. In fact I used to tell people if you were to cut me open, my blood would run black.
The smell alone will put me into sensory overload. I do however realize that not everyone feels this way about black licorice, Bob for instance. People either love it or hate it. Is there not enough hate in this world? Can’t we all just love it? hehe Several years ago as I attempted to clean up my diet, I had to turn my back on my beloved licorice. Sniff sniff. There just isn’t anything good for you in those darn candies. They are typically made of; Brown sugar syrup, wheat flour, corn syrup, starch, licorice extract, salt, artificial and natural flavors, fractionated coconut oil, beeswax coating, and carnauba wax.
But today is a new day and at 4:00 A.M., I woke up, staring up at the dark ceiling and it hit me, “Why can’t I make black licorice out of my date bits recipe and add fennel…or anise… fennel?…. anise? What’s the difference?” I knew my mind wouldn’t rest till I had fully researched this question. So I stumbled out into the living room and snuggled up on the couch, hoping that I wouldn’t wake up my true love.
After “thumbing” through site after site, learning all about anise, I knew what I had to do… use ground fennel seed. Why? Because that is what I had in the spice cabinet. lol Fennel is actually very good for you! Fennel seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber. Much of this roughage is metabolically inert insoluble fiber, which helps increase bulk of food by absorbing water throughout the digestive system and easing constipation. In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol in the liver) and decrease its re-absorption in colon, thus helping lower serum LDL cholesterol levels and eliminate stomach-ache and stimulate digestion. Enough research, lets head to the kitchen!
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Ingredients: yields 38 candies
- 3 cups Mejol dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp ground fennel seeds
- Have two dehydrator trays ready, fitted with the teflex sheet. Set aside.
- Remove the pits from the dates as you put them in the measuring cup.
- Be sure to inspect each date as you tear it in half to remove the pit. Mold and insect eggs can infect dried dates. I don’t mean to gross you out, you just need to be made aware of this.
- Place the dates in the food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Add the water and ground fennel. Process until the dates turn into a creamy paste.
- This will take some patience and you will need to stop the machine every once in a while to scrape the sides down.
- Once the paste is formed, using a rubber spatula, place the paste in a sturdy piping bag.
- Pipe the date wheels:
- Use a cloth or silicone piping bag for this recipe. You will be using a good amount of hand pressure to squeeze it out and you don’t want a plastic bag to pop on you. I used Fat Daddios Piping Bag and Tips.
- When piping, this is a good time to call in your strong partner. Good hand strength is needed.
- Hold the piping bag tip about 1/4″ above the teflex sheet and slowly guide the lines of date paste down the sheet. Don’t hold it to high or you will create a squiggly line or possible breaks.
- Keep a constant pressure on the piping bag as you squeeze out the paste. This will ensure an even thickness of the line.
- After each completed line of date paste, stop and retwist the piping bag, working all paste towards the tip. This will eliminate air bubbles in the bag and give you a solid grip.
- Dehydrate at 145 degrees (F) for 1 hour, then reduce to 115 degrees (F) for 8 hours (+/-).
- Check in on them periodically, you should be able to roll them back forth without sticking to the teflex or your fingers.
- At this stage, start to make the wheels, rock the rope back and forth to make sure that it isn’t stuck to the teflex sheet.
- Tuck the tip of the rope inwardly towards itself.
- Gently roll them into a tight coil while they remain flat on the teflex until you reach the end.
- Place on the mesh sheet to continue the drying process. If the ropes keep sticking to the teflex or your fingers, they need to continue drying a bit longer. But be careful that they don’t get to dry to where they keep breaking apart as you try to roll them.
- Continue drying for 6-8 hours or until they no longer have any stickiness to them.
- Store in an airtight container, single layered with wax paper in between layers.
To make the wheels, rock the rope back and forth to make sure that it isn’t stuck to the teflex sheet.
Tuck the tip of the rope inwardly towards itself. Gently roll them into a tight coil while they
remain flat on the teflex until you reach the end. Place on the mesh sheet to continue the drying process.
If the ropes keep sticking to the reflex or your fingers, they need to continue drying a bit longer. But be
careful that they don’t get to dry to where they keep breaking apart as you try to roll them.