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Homemade candy hearts: A Valentine's Day confection

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and many are scurrying to get their loved ones tokens of affection. Candy hearts are one of the most popular gifts given on this holiday, and can often be seen in small bags or decorative boxes. They also have an interesting history, to say the least.

The ever popular conversation hearts date back to the 1600's. They were advertised as "kissing comfits", a small sweet made from sugar paste and flavoring, imprinted with a word or a seal in a mold. They were used to freshen the breath, and then later, would contain a small piece of paper with words written on them "to make mirth", as one company stated. During the Victorian times, they were printed with words on the sweet itself, and were advertised as "conversation lozenges". If one was shy, he or she could present their love interest with a lozenge imprinted with a flirtatious message. Lozenges that said "I will" were also available if someone wished to respond to their suitor.

Conversation lozenges were even used for advertisement purposes. The temperance movement used lozenges at one point, printing "drink is the ruin of man" on the tops of the sweets with dye. Today, candy hearts can be bought in many stores, and many different types of messages can be purchased. Here is a homemade recipe for candy hearts that you can use to tell your loved one a special message.

Candy Heart Recipe

1 packet (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting the work surface
Food coloring
Small cutters

In a small mixing bowl, dissolve gelatin, water, and corn syrup. Microwave for about 30 seconds to make sure everything is dissolved. Mix in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Keep adding the powdered sugar until the dough is sticky. Dust a surface with powdered sugar, knead out the dough until it's smooth and no longer sticky. Roll out the dough and cut with small cutters. Air dry for one day. Write on the sweets with food coloring pens.

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