This hard version of liquorice, to suck rather than chew, is a darkly delicious treat for Halloween. The bicarbonate of soda lightens the texture a little, so the shards are slightly brittle
Makes about 550g
Butter, for greasing
200g caster sugar
100g golden syrup
100g black treacle
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 liquorice root, pounded
1 tsp powdered liquorice or ½-1 tsp liquorice essence
65g liquid fruit pectin or 12g powdered fruit pectin
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp anise extract
1 Grease a 23cm/9in square cake tin or pan and line with cling film as smoothly as possible.
2 Combine the sugar, syrup, treacle and cream of tartar with 100ml of water in a heavy pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquorice root and liquorice powder or essence, and boil, without stirring, until it reaches 120C.
3 Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the pectin (add 4 tbsp water if using powdered pectin), bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt.
4 Pour the pectin mixture into the syrup and stir to combine. Boil again until the syrup reaches 103C, then stir in the anise extract.
5 Pour the syrup into the prepared tin, discarding the liquorice root, and leave to set for about 4 hours. Turn out on to a chopping board and break into shapes. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe from Liquorice: A Cookbook by Carol Wilson (Lorenz Books).
Growing your own
Did you know liquorice is easy to grow yourself? Grow young plants (try brandycarrnurseries.co.uk) in a sunny spot in good, moist soil, allowing plenty of space between them – as the roots really like to spread! Roots can be harvested three to four years after planting and eaten raw or dried and used as a flavouring.