It is unseasonably warm here in the southern US, and my yard which is normally brown at this time of year looks like a green spring meadow. There are all kinds of beautiful little buds sprouting up, and clover is everywhere. Just seeing those emerald patches carpeting the ground inspired me, and made me remember that St. Patrick’s Day is less than a month away.
I think these pops would make an excellent treat for the holiday, or a nice gift to let someone know how lucky you are to have them in your life.
Wild clover is an edible plant that nearly everyone can identify. When selecting clover for these pops, try to find blemish-free specimens with perfect leaves. Choose patches of clover that are away from heavily traveled areas such as roadways where cars can pollute the plants – and nowhere near the places that puppies like to frequent (wink). You’ll need to wash and dry the clover well and them press them in a heavy book overnight. I used my fattest cooking tome as a flower press, with two more heavy books stacked on top of it.
You may be thinking that I’m the luckiest person ever to find so many four-leaf clovers to use in these pops, but no. I cheated! Be sure to pick extra three-leaf clovers when you’re foraging, because you’ll need to arrange one extra leaf next to the three leaves on the pops. (You can see me arranging the leaf with a toothpick in the picture above.)
I used isomalt for this project and I recommend that you use it too. Isomalt is a sweetener made from beets that many pastry chefs rely on for beautiful sugar art. It removes so many problems that regular sugar creates in candy-making. Isomalt is more stable in humidity and it produces a clear glass-like finish which makes the clovers in these pops highly visible.
Creme de Menthe flavoring oil makes these pops taste as nice as they look. I also think green apple flavoring would be lovely. The pops can be wrapped in cellophane and tied with pretty ribbon for gift-giving. Store these pops in a cool dry place and they’ll keep for months. If making these in advance for an event (such as wedding favors) store them with food grade silica packets to ensure longevity.
Before I close, here are some possible pitfalls to consider before making these.
- Sometimes hard candy can splinter or chip with unmolding in standard hard candy molds. Consider using a silicone lollipop mold if you’re not an experienced candy-maker.
- Be sure to use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature. You can’t get by without using one here.
- If you’re not adding food color to the pops as I did, use distilled water in this recipe. You can find it at the grocery store. Isomalt reacts with trace elements in tap water and will yellow during cooking. I used tap water because the green food color will hide any discoloring.
- Never store cooked or uncooked Isomalt in a refrigerator or freezer.
- If you’re not sure how to identify clover – ask for help! Don’t guess.
And lastly, a few shopping links to the materials I used.
Lucky Four Leaf Clover Lollipops
- lollipop molds
- 13-14 three-leaf clovers with stems intact
- 1 cup 210g isomalt
- 1/4 cup 60ml hot water (distilled if not using food color)
- Leaf green food color
- Crème de menthe candy flavoring oil
- Lollipop sticks
- Rinse the clover and pat dry with paper towels. Spread and flatten the clover leaves as you place them face-down between parchment paper or waxed paper in the center of a heavy book. Close the book and place two more heavy books on top. Leave overnight.
- Combine the Isomalt and water in a heavy saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer on the pan to gauge the temperature. Cook over medium heat whisking until dissolved. Continue to cook. At 280°F add a drop of green gel food color and stir; add flavoring oil and stir. Cook until the mixture reaches 320°F and remove from heat. Wait until bubbling subsides and small bubbles dissipate before pouring the candy, about 3 minutes.
- After the bubbles dissipate, spoon the candy into each lollipop cavity until they are halfway full. Let the candy stand for about 3 minutes to cool slightly. Carefully place a three-leaf clover face-down on the candy and press it down slightly so that it sticks to the candy using a toothpick. Pluck a leaf from another pressed clover and arrange it face-down next to the three-leaf clover on the pop. Use a toothpick to perfectly position it. Press it down with the toothpick so that it sticks to the candy. Allow the candy to stand until slightly hardened so that the clovers are firmly anchored in the candy.
- Reheat the remaining candy in the pan over medium high-heat, stirring constantly. When the candy is pourable, fill the cavities the rest of the way full with the candy. Insert lollipop sticks and give them 1/2 turn to coat.
- Let lollipops stand at room temperature until firm. Gently turn the lollipops out of the molds using the lollipop stick to wiggle them free.
- Wrap lollipops in cellophane wrappers and store in a cool dry place. When stored correctly these pops will keep for months.