At last month's MSG I shared the result of my quest for a cold, cold confection: candy menthol cigarettes. The peppermint and menthol flavors trick you mouth into thinking it's colder, while they also use xylitol instead of sugar so it's actually lowering the temperature in your mouth.
First we need to make gum paste. It's basically play doh made out of sugar you can use to make chalky candy (think Altoids or Necco wafers). You make it, you roll it out, it dries, voila! Candy cigarettes.
Go out and buy some eggs. Buy some xylitol (or sugar - xylitol is just a fancy non-sugar sweetener). Get some peppermint oil. The weirdest ingredient we're going to come across is tylose.
Tylose is a thickener. That's pretty much all you need to know, because that's all I know about it and I'm certainly making candy all right. You don't need very much when you're making candy cigarettes so don't feel weirded out by the tiny tiny container.
It had directions on the side of the container! It involves whipping egg whites and a sweetener for a few minutes, then adding a bit of tylose. If you're intimidated by the instructions, fret not! Design Me A Cake has a great video tutorial on working with tylose powder.
Why are we using xylitol? Xylitol is an interesting sweetener in that as it dissolves in your saliva, it actually makes your mouth colder. That's why "refreshing" gums are so often sweetened with xylitol instead of some other sweetener. It'll be fine if you use sugar, though.
Once you've followed the instructions on the side of the tylose powder, you'll have what looks like a slab of dough. Take a teaspoon or two of peppermint oil, drip it across the top, and knead it all together.
Taste it! Pepperminty enough? If not, add a little more peppermint oil and knead again. I'm not even going to attempt to give you measurements because it's all so up to personal taste.
[Note: If you'd like to make cloves, just add ground-up cloves instead! Not so hard, right? Clove oil is probably a better bet, but I couldn't find any laying around locally so I just went with the powdered stuff for mine.]
Now, out of chemical ignorance I did something dumb. I bought menthol crystals off of the internet, ground them up, and kneaded them into the dough. The first surprise was that menthol came in crystals. The second surprise was that they weren't for human consumption.
Again: you really aren't supposed to eat those.
But boy, putting menthol in things sure makes them taste like menthol. Menthol does a neat trick in your mouth where it thinks it's lowering the temperature even though it's not; I figured that along with xylitol would really pack a cold cold punch.
Relating this story to a flavor chemist or two at last week's MSG I was called brave. I don't know exactly what that means, but I'm still alive. And the menthol crystals were apparently named after me. Anyway, I at least it looked like I worked in an apothecary for a while.
It looks fun, but honestly, stick with peppermint oil. It contains menthol, so you're fine.
After this you deal with the dough like any other dough. If you'd like to make candy cigarettes, roll them out and cut them into strips. If you're looking for altoid-ish creations, cut them up in little circles or squares.
No matter what, once it dries you'll be left with a sweet, slightly chalky candy. It's all up to you for presentation.
What's that? Menthols are green? A little food coloring later and we're all set.
At this point you just gotta wait. I tried putting some in a low-heat oven to make them dry out faster but they just half-melted. You've got 6 to 48 hours ahead of you.
I made two batches, one from tylose powder and one from a pre-mix from the store, and they were of massively different consistencies and drying times. The egg white one I made felt a little more fun and pillowy, but who knows if that means anything. Just be patient!
And while you're being patient, it's time to put together some wicked packaging.
Neat, 'eh? The recipes you're going from will probably make way more than you'll be able to spin into cigarettes, so you'll have plenty left over to experiment with.
You can make everything from Necco wafers to faux Altoids using this method, it's just a matter of cutting them out in the right shape. You will be absolutely impressed with yourself, and every time you put one in your mouth will be a little celebration.
Best of luck in your candy journeys, be sure to let us know if you come up with anything fun!