Primary Flavors

Primary Flavors

So that the sweet tooths of the house (my own included) would stop gnashing
at me about how little we have on hand to please (and also to rot) them, I
boiled together three half-batches of rock candy early this afternoon:
peppermint, anise, and cinnamon. Can you tell from the photo that I’ve
never made rock candy before?

For one thing, I didn’t know how much powdered sugar to lay out, and, in
retrospect I used far too little. I also didn’t boil the syrup long
enough, so these batches didn’t set up until each of them roasted for another 30
minutes in a 350-degree oven. Is. lent a hand on the first pan–yellow
peppermint rather than green peppermint because her affinity for yellow things
has not wavered. When Is. went down for her nap, Ph. took over; he led the
production of the red and blue batches as I explained how I thought it should
work (this was before we understood that we were undercooking the stuff).

The red and blue sheets side by side reminded me immediately of last month’s
election maps. Pans of colored syrup resemble land masses. Ph. and I
kidded for a minute that someone (not us) could have become wildly internet
famous if, during the election, they’d thought of using a Dremel tool to cut out
the shapes of every state and then ate the non-winning colors as the electoral
geography was determined on election night. Who wouldn’t tune into YouTube to
watch a Wolf Blitzer look-alike sucking on a cinnamon New York or an anise Texas
as each state was called? Of course, the initial batches we poured, had we
tried to cut them into states, would have looked more misshapen than
Mark Newman’s
two-tone cartograms
, and probably even less edible. And yet, the
political landscape is, when all of the powdered sugar coating has settled, kind
of gooey after all, isn’t it?

I suppose an idea as flavorful as the cutting out and eating of state-shaped
candies can hold over until 2012. Maybe the "Yes We Carve" folks would
want to pick it up as "Yes We Confect." And thus, with no urgent message to get
out in late November, tomorrow we’ll crack up the hardened puddles into
bite-sized pieces and eat them no matter whether they look like Maine, the
Dakotas, or Michigan’s U.P. With any luck we’ll have a few shards of candy
remaining to carry with us to dentist appointments in mid-December,
incriminating evidence of our by-then fastsweetly-dissolving interest in
connecting the dots between candy-pan geography and election maps.


  1. We make that every Christmas too, but we call it stained-glass candy. That may have to do with the fact that the original recipe was from a church cookbook, though. 🙂


  2. Great photo. And I would much rather watch you and yours than Wolf Blitzer, or anyone on any of the big blathering talkitytalk “news” channels.

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