I’ve fallen in love with Hawaiian gummy candies. So sweet! So tangy! Can’t eat just one! The one thing I don’t like is that every bag I purchased contains the artificial sweetener aspartame. College me who drank a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke a night reveled in it. The me of today is not a big fan of aspartame.

Ugh. So much aspartame.

Hawaiian gummies are candies that are dusted with Li Hing Mui (dried Chinese plum) powder and (sometimes) salted candied lemon peels. I picked up some of the Li Hing Mui powder and dried lemon rings before I left Hawaii with the intent of trying to make some of my own gummy candies once my stash ran out. Both ingredients contain aspartame, so by the time my flight landed I started planning a way to make my own Hawaiian gummy bears without the dreaded aspartame.

First I sliced up two fresh lemons, sprinkled them with sea salt and sugar, then left them in the dehydrator overnight.

I ❤ my dehydrator

I picked up a bag of dried plums from my neighborhood Asian market. There were multiple types available, and more than half of them contained aspartame. Fortunately I found a bag that only contained plums, sugar, and salt.

I pulled the dried plum flesh away from the pits and dropped it into the food processor along with the dried lemons, salt, sugar, five-spice, and star anise. The gummy bears are tossed with this blend.

Dried plums, dried lemons, salt, sugar, star anise, and five-spice

It wouldn’t be one of my projects if I didn’t try to make *everything* from scratch. My last go at making gummy candy for the Mirthmobile project was unsuccessful, so I wanted to try it again. The first batch was made from lychee juice, sugar, water, and gelatin. These did not hold up as expected — they were essentially fancy shaped Jello Jigglers. They tasted good — just did not have the texture I am looking for.

In the interest of seeing how my plum/lemon blend matched with jelly candies without waiting for me to get the recipe right, I nipped out to the corner store and picked up a bag of commercially-made gummy bears. The bears were tossed with lemon juice, then my plum/lemon mixture. Umm, wow! Very bright, tangy, and delectable.

Store-bought bears with my plum/lemon mixture

I wasn’t ready to give up on making my own candies, so I went back to the drawing board and read some more articles on making gummy candies. For the next batch, I used orange flavoring like you would use for cakes, corn syrup, citric acid, and twice as much gelatin. Huzzah! THIS WORKED!!! I tossed them with the plum/lemon blend and put them in front of a fan to dry.

Success! Drying the bears to make them hardy

It’s absolutely dangerous to know how to make these because now I want to get more flavoring oils to make a variety of flavors.

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