Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Licorice Wands

10 days until the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opening!  I’ve got my midnight showing tickets.  Do you?

And this is the moment you've all been waiting for!  Now initiating Harry Potter Food Week 2!!!

We didn’t attempt any Honeydukes candy last November, so Anna and I are going to make up for it this time.  We’ve got plans to make some Harry Potter treats that, as far as our Google searches can determine, have never been done before!  Or at least, they haven’t been done properly, according to the books’ descriptions.  Either way, we’re attempting to be innovators in the Harry Potter food universe.  It’s very exciting business, let me tell you.

First off: licorice wands!

Licorice wands are among the many treats Harry buys off the trolley on his first trip on the Hogwarts Express in The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone (along with pumpkin pasties).  They also get a bit of the limelight in Half-Blood Prince (Book 6), when Harry is invited to his first Slug Club meeting on the Hogwarts Express.  Professor Horace Slughorn gathers all of his most hopeful pupils and offers them lunch.
“I’ve packed my own lunch; the trolley, as I remember it, is heavy on licorice wands, and a poor old man’s digestive system isn’t quite up to such things....  Pheasant, Belby?” (Rowling, Half-Blood Prince 143-44)
I’ve never tried pheasant, and I must say that my curiosity is piqued toward that particular dish, but I think we’ll just stick with licorice wands today.  Hopefully y'all's digestive systems are more cooperative than Slughorn's.

Licorice wands are never described in any of the books, probably because their title is rather self-explanatory.  They’re licorice sticks that looks like wands, right?  But how do we jazz up a stick of licorice to make it look more like a wand?  This allows for a bit of experimentation on our parts, which is a lot of fun!

If you search for pictures of licorice wands online, you’ll discover that most people take a stick of licorice, dip half of it in some white chocolate, and then dip that same end in nonpareils (aka, those itty bitty spherical sprinkles).  However, I don’t think those look anything like wands.  They remind me more of rock candy than anything else.  From the many pictures I looked at, I developed my own little recipe to make the most wand-like licorice you’ve ever seen.

Licorice Wands
  8 black licorice twists
16 Lifesavers Gummies
2 squares Almond Bark coating, vanilla
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp vegetable shortening

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  
  2. Slide two lifesaver gummies onto each licorice stick, one on the very end, and one about 2 inches above it.  Place on cookie sheet and stick in freezer.
  3. Melt almond bark according to package instructions.  Stir in 1 tsp of vegetable shortening until it melts.  You can heat your mixture for another couple of seconds if you have a problem getting the shortening to combine.
  4. Remove licorice sticks from freezer.  Take 1 licorice stick, place the lifesaver end of the licorice stick in the melted almond bark and use a spoon to carefully coat the stick between the two lifesaver gummies.  Work from several different angles to be sure you coat underneath the lifesavers.  Place stick carefully onto cookie sheet, making sure it is straight.
  5. Repeat this step with 3 more of the licorice sticks. Place the cookie sheet back in the freezer.
  6. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating at 15 second intervals and stirring well after each heating.  Add the remaining 1 tsp of shortening, and stir until integrated (may heat a second or two more to help melt it).  
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining 4 licorice sticks.  Allow the coated licorice to cool for a couple minutes.
  8. Remove sticks from freezer.  Using a knife, carefully shave off any coating/chocolate irregularities to make the wand handle smoother.  Don’t handle them for more than a few seconds, though, or your warm hands will melt the coating.
  9. If you want a thicker handle, coat the ends a second time.  After you have reached the desired handle thickness, store wands in the freezer.  Before serving, remove from freezer and allow to thaw for a few minutes.

coating licorice with chocolate

Final Product
Here are some tips for this process, because it can get a little tricky.
  • Red Vines is the best licorice brand.  Twizzlers black licorice = nasty, and too short and too floppy to use as a wand.  You can use red licorice if you dislike black, it just won’t look as cool.
  • When you are dealing with melted chocolate or similar ingredients, be very careful not to burn it!  A little heat and a lot of stirring goes a long way.
  • Be sure to keep your kitchen cool.  I tried to work with the chocolate in an 83ºF room, and when it came time to shaving off the irregularities after the first coat, the chocolate melted in my hands almost instantly.  I had to turn the AC on for a while before I could get back to work. 
  • You can use white chocolate chips instead of almond bark.  Almond bark is just what I had on hand (It’s also WAY cheaper).
  •  In my opinion, the chocolate ones looked cooler than the white almond bark. Maybe I’m just biased toward chocolate.  Maybe it’s just because I don’t like white chocolate or any of its close relatives (like almond bark).  But I thought the chocolate ones looked more wood-like, which fit the whole wand idea better.  Plus, the lifesavers show through the white, so you have to do two coats.  I only did one coat of the chocolate, and I think it turned out great.
Once your wands are made, you’re ready to practice magic!  As Professor Flitwick says, “‘Swish and flick, remember, swish and flick’” (Sorcerer’s Stone 171).  It’ll be more like “swish and lick” for you, though, since these wands will undoubtedly leave chocolate residue on your palms.  But hey, what is more magical than chocolate?

P.S. 2 days left on the poll on the left sidebar!  Be sure to vote!


Sarah said...

Or you could just use chocolate almond bark and save some trouble. They do look cool--like a real wand.

Rachel said...

Those look cool! But I hate black licorice, and though I love red vines, I don't think they'd go so well with chocolate.

Cindy said...

I was just trying to figure out how to make the handle look like a wand, that is a great idea! I bought the red red vines because no one will eat black, I think I'm going to try to coat that in chocolate too so the entire thing looks like wood. thanks for the pictures.