Friday, March 13, 2009
Sugar Coated Fennel
That’s kind of sad for the oldest candies.
Today I’ve got Candy Coated Fennel Seeds. From reading Sweets: A History of Candy by Tim Richardson, some of the first candies are still produced today. Those are the panned nuts and seeds.
The process is simple, a syrup of liquid sugar is drizzled over a bit that forms the center (in this case a fennel seed). After each layer dries, another is added. The most famous version of this is the Anis de l’Abbaye Flavigny, which creates a huge peanut sized pastille. In this instance the fennel seeds are coated with a little crunchy shell, like an M&M without the chocolate.
This variety is made by Al-Karawan based in Amman, Jordan (you know, Jordan, the place they named Jordan Almonds after). My mother picked it up for me at her local deli.
The summer before I went off to college I worked at an herb shop where I packaged up bulk products, including a version of this. I admit that I would sneak a spoonful when doing the little baggies. I might add that fennel is supposed to be a digestive aid, easing indigestion and suppressing appetite. It also freshens the breath. I usually see this stuff at Indian restaurants where you usually encounter a bowl of mints.
The colors are bright pastels: pink, green, yellow, blue and lavender. The size of the pieces varies greatly, some are tiny little spheres (with nothing inside) and others are the size of sunflower seeds.
The bag smells sweet and like a light anise. For those who are familiar with fennel, it does have a distinct, fresh anise flavor to it (licorice).
The sugar coating is sweet and crunchy and gives way to the seeds pretty quickly. The seeds are soft and fibrous for the most part. They have a light fresh flavor to them, soft anise mixed with some woodsy notes of beets, vanilla and root beer.
It’s kind of an odd candy. I find it very refreshing, though not terribly filling. It’s certainly pretty. For something exotic, it’s not that expensive (this bag had a price tag of 99 cents on it) for four ounces. For the most part it’s well made, but the bottom of my bag did contain a bunch of little bits that either didn’t get the full color treatment or were just single candy layered on a thread of fennel instead of a full seed. A little sifting might have eliminated that.
Al-Karawan lists Sugar Coated Cardamom on their site, now that sounds like something I’d like! The panning process is used on lots of other unlikely foodstuffs as well, like chick peas (garbanzos) and more traditional ones like almonds & pistachios.
POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:41 am
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.