Right– It’s Saturday. Let’s talk about jelly beans.

As you know, Senzu Bean (Dragon Ball) Jelly Beans were first scheduled to be posted last week. Those were a total failure so I vowed to have a batch out this week. Let’s be honest: I made 8 batches, spent over $50 in miscellaneous tools, and ruined so much sugar. So. Much. Sugar. Right now I’m at a point where I can’t keep pouring my heart and soul into them with such poor results.

I’ve researched several jelly bean recipes online… Incidentally, there aren’t many. Especially not good ones, if you’ve ever done research on the topic. I’m at the point where I’m fairly certain that the successful recipes and YouTube videos I’ve seen are cheating and are showing off a commercial product, rather than display their handiwork. I may be wrong… but I really don’t think so. I’d like to think that I put my best efforts into the venture and at this point I believe I’ve nailed down a solid recipe for the jelly center. Unfortunately, it all consistently falls apart at the candy coating stage.

What went right? What went wrong? Here’s a batch-by-batch breakdown:

The first batch was a total, abject failure. The initial jelly center was made up of 1 1/2 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 oz. unflavored gelatin, 1/2 tsp. salt, food coloring, and 1 cup juice. I combined the first three ingredients in a pot and began heating the mixture. Despite constant stirring and temperature monitoring, the mixture boiled over and was lost. It smelled like burning marshmallows.

The second batch was made in the same fashion but with a bigger pot to minimize the chances of another boil-over. This time I succeeded and got to the flavoring stage. From the start I knew these would be Mountain Dew flavored so I added a cup of Dew and salt and food coloring and stirred it all together and poured the mixture into my greased jelly bean molds.

  • A word on jelly bean molds: These can be found relatively cheap online. I got a set of two red Jello brand jelly bean molds on eBay for about $12 (new). There are other kinds of molds available, but each of these molds makes 82 beans. That’s 164 total! Totally worth it. Even though it didn’t work out this time, I will be getting a ton of use out of these molds.

This turned out to be way too much of the jelly mixture for the molds so a good portion of it got spooned onto sheet pans in sad, vaguely jelly bean shaped puddles. I was never able to get these off the pan. This batch was a failure due to quantity and texture: the beans were much too wiggly and limp to be useable.

For the third batch, I decided to cut all of the ingredients in half. While the quantity was now manageable, yielding about 100 beans, it was still too wiggly and limp. Scrapped.

For the fourth batch, I used the halved recipe, but used the full 1/2 oz. of gelatin. This, in my opinion, made the perfect jelly bean filling. Very nice gummy texture, and the flavor was pretty good, too. Removed the jelly beans from the molds and coated with cornstarch to absorb excess moisture. For the candy coating, I used a combination of water and sugar and tried to turn a large pot into a tumbler. This had absolutely horrific results. I can’t imagine why a leprechaun would have an abortion, but I now know what one looks like. The jelly beans broke apart and I was left with a lumpy, jellied green slime. Nope.

For the fifth batch I tried coating the beans in a mixture of corn syrup and food coloring, then a coating of sugar. When these dried they looked more like gum drops than jelly beans, and the jelly bean filling tended to deflate on the inside after a day or so. Gahhhh.

The sixth batch was done the same way as the fifth batch, but with two coatings of the corn syrup then sugar. These were then tumbled in a child’s rock tumbler for about three hours. Not sure if it’s because of the holiday season or the fact that’s a bit of a specialty item but it took me days and six different stores to find one. If you want to get one for your own culinary and rock tumbling adventures, your best bet is getting one from Hobby Lobby. After the 30% off sale, mine was under $35. These beans looked worlds better, but the coating was much too thin on the bottom and the top coating tended to flake off. These weren’t good.

For the seventh batch, it was suggested to use a powdered sugar coating. This was supposed to draw out the excess moisture and form a solid coating over a few days. Once the beans were coated I let them dry… but they kept secreting more and more liquid. I had to keep dusting them with the powdered sugar. Eventually we adopted an ‘eff it’ mentality and poured half a bag of the powdered sugar over the beans until they were completely covered. They never made it out of this stage.

Right now, I have no intention of attempting to make jelly beans again until I level up a few more times. Like, mythic level cooking skills seem to be required here. For anyone willing to give this a try, here’s my recipe for the jelly bean center:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 oz. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup flavoring – this can be juice (no pulp), soda, anything like that. I used Mountain Dew and a tsp. of lemon juice to brighten the flavor
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • food coloring – I used green, about 20-30 drops

Combine your water, sugar, and gelatin in a pot. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pot. You will be heating this mixture on medium heat to 255 degrees F. This will probably take 30-40 minutes. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. For the love of Insert-Deity-Of-Choice-Here, do not let this boil over. It’s terrible to have to clean this up.

Once mixture hits 255 degrees, take it off the burner and plunge the pot into a bowl of ice to keep the temperature from rising. Add in the flavoring, salt, and food coloring and stir. Pour mixture into lightly greased jelly bean molds. Let sit for 4-6 hours or until set. Unmold.

If you want to try this out in your own home, feel free to do so. Better: if you come up with a better jelly bean coating, please share your results with me and I will love you forever and credit you in the post! I really want to make these work but right now it’s not happening.

So, that’s the story. On to the next adventure.

Up next: Candy Crush Candy



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