This Easter, I urge you to peanut butter and jelly–but not in the expected sandwich way. I’m talking about making homemade peanut butter jelly beans.
It isn’t easy to improve a candy icon. But in the case of the jelly bean, I must humbly submit that I’ve done a pretty good job at raising the bar, with a little help from the peanut butter and honey powerhouse that is The Bee’s Knees.
The recipe evolved from the simple theory that peanut butter makes everything better. Seriously–try thinking of something it doesn’t improve. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Turns out, jelly beans are no exception. Of course, homemade jelly beans are already superior to their sweet yet bland commercial counterparts, with a fresher flavor and more tender texture. Adding sweet, rich, creamy peanut butter kissed with honey into the mix makes them a thoroughly craveable treat, and takes jelly beans from filler candy in your basket to an Easter bunny approved treat, delicious in their own right.
Recipe notes: I based this recipe on one from Ehow.com which required a candy coating attachment in an electric mixer. Not having one, I coated the candies by hand. It was a bit time consuming and messy, but not necessarily difficult.
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 day
Yield: makes over 100 jelly beans
For the beans
3 (1/4-ounce) packages plain gelatin powder
2⅓ cups sugar
12 ounces water
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
⅓ cup The Bee’s Knees peanut butter
For the candy coating
1.5 ounces water
1 tablespoon The Bee’s Knees peanut butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Special equipment: Baking pan with sides (such as a jelly roll pan) and drying rack
1. Place a baking pan in the refrigerator to cool it.
2. Prepare the filling. Combine the three packs of gelatin and water in a large saucepan. Let the gelatin sit for a moment, until dissolved.
3. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a low boil. Keep a close eye on the mixture, as once it starts bubbling, it can easily progress from a low boil to a bubble over the top mess. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue stirring with a whisk or spoon for 20 minutes. If the mixture seems cloudy at any point, don’t worry–it will subside once the next steps are taken.
4. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the salt, lime juice, and peanut butter. Stir until smooth and combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the chilled baking pan. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then transfer the pan back to the refrigerator. The five minutes will help it slightly set, making it easier to transfer to the fridge.
6. Let the candy mixture harden in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight.
7. Loosen the jelly from the pan. I found this was easy to do with a spatula or simply by hand. Dust your hands with cornstarch to make handling it easier.
8. Cut the jelly into small pieces. To get the classic jelly bean shape, I suggest one of three methods if you don’t happen to have a kidney shaped cutter on hand.
Method 1: cut out small circles (I used a piping bag coupler for this), and then cut out the jelly bean kidney shape by hand with a small, sharp knife.
Method 2: cut out small circles and “taco” them together to form a half moon shape. The
candy is sticky enough that it should stay together once glazed.
Method 3: cut out small circles, and then use the circle to cut the circle in half. This will yield a sort of almond and moon duo which works pretty well. They are not exactly jelly bean shaped, but close enough considering the streamlined method.
Of course, you don’t have to cut them in jelly bean shape at all–you can cut out squares, hearts, or whatever you’d like.
9. To make the candy coating, mix the water, peanut butter, and confectioners’ sugar until very creamy. If it is too thick, you can add up to .5 ounces more water.
10. To coat the pieces, I favored this method: drop several in the bowl at once, and stir to coat fully. Using a fork (this will allow excess glaze to drip through the tines), transfer to a rack to dry. The finer the rack, the less candy will stick.
11. Let the coating set for about 1 day for most “jelly bean” realistic texture results. Gently remove from the rack, trying not to tear off any of the candy coating. The candy coating may not have stuck totally on the bottom of the candies, but I promise they still taste great.
PEANUT BUTTER GIVEAWAY
In this recipe Jesse makes a candy that is traditionally store bought. What other candy would you attempt to make homemade?
Leave a comment below with your answer to enter for a chance at winning a jar of The Bee’s Knees, the peanut butter used in this recipe.
– The giveaway is open to USA residents only and will run until Monday, April 28, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST.
– One entry per person.
– Winner(s) will be generated via a random number generator and notified via the contact email provided on the comment form.
– Winner(s) will have until 04/28/14 to claim their prize or we will choose another winner.
– Winner will win one jar of The Bee’s Knees peanut butter. Product will be shipped by Peanut Butter & Co.
– No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 years of age to enter. See Official Giveaway Rules.