A couple of months ago the New England Confectionery Company (Necco) announced it was facing closure. People began panic-buying packages of Necco Wafers. One woman in Florida even tried to trade her car for a warehouse’s remaining stock. That sounds a little drastic to me, especially since the company hasn’t officially closed yet (although I’m sad to say their GoFundMe page doesn’t look promising).
I think before we give away our transportation in exchange for candy we should try a homemade version, don’t you? This is the formula to use, even though nothing will replace the original. I’d call this recipe a close second!
For those unfamiliar, Necco Wafers were first invented in 1847 and can be described as hard, chalky, and curiously flavored. I’d call them polarizing because some detractors are quite vocal, but I find them strangely addictive. I love their snap. And I love being surprised, because I always expect the purple ones to be grape when they are in fact clove!
The ingredients are so simple. You’ll need powdered sugar, gelatin, a tiny bit of light corn syrup, and water. I chose to only make 6 of the 8 original Necco Wafers flavors, so that’s what you’ll find in the recipe. You might think the pink wafers would be cherry or strawberry. Nope! Wintergreen. Other flavors are more predictable, such as green is lime-flavored. I recommend using LorAnn flavoring oils for these candies, because they yield the best results!
These need to dry on a large baking sheet dusted with powdered sugar. You’ll also need to flip them so they dry evenly on both sides. This can take a while, especially if humidity is high, so I recommend at least 48 hours to get that nice firm wafer snap.
I wrapped stacks of the wafers in waxed paper as a nod to the original packaging. I’ve always liked how you could see the colors through the wrapper.
Necco is the maker of conversation hearts, too! Hopefully someone will save the day for the company but if that doesn’t happen, you can use this recipe to make homemade conversation hearts. You’ll need a 1-inch heart cutter and a red food color writer to pen the words.
Homemade Candy Wafers
- 1.5-inch round cookie cutter
- 1/2 cup 120ml hot water
- .25 ounce package powdered gelatin
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 2 pounds powdered sugar plus more for kneading
- 1/8 teaspoon each flavoring oils LorAnn recommended:
- Wintergreen lemon, lime, orange, clove, cinnamon,
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon each gel food color:
- Pink yellow, green, orange, purple
- Pour the hot water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the gelatin, corn syrup and salt. Mix on low until the gelatin is dissolved. Turn the mixer on low speed and beat in the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Knead in more confectioners’ sugar until the dough is smooth and pliable.
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Flatten one piece into a disk and cover the rest with plastic wrap. Add a few drops of pink food color and mint extract to the center of the dough and fold in the sides. Knead until the color and flavor is distributed. If dough becomes tacky with these additions, knead in more confectioners’ sugar. The drier the dough, the firmer the end result will be – and that’s what we want!
- Repeat the coloring and flavoring process as follows: Tint a portion yellow and add lemon flavor, tint a portion green and add lime flavor, tint a portion orange and add orange flavor tint a portion purple and add clove flavor. Leave one portion untinted and add cinnamon flavor.
- Sprinkle a work surface liberally with powdered sugar. Roll out one of the colored doughs on the work surface; lift it every so often to make sure it isn’t sticking. If the dough sticks add more powdered sugar underneath. Cut out the wafers using a 1.5-inch round cutter. Transfer the rounds to a large baking pan dusted with powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Let the wafers stand at room temperature, uncovered for 24 hours. Flip the wafers and allow them to dry for another 24 hours. When the wafers are set, they should be firm and have a snap when you bite them. If you have trouble getting the wafers to dry crisp, dredge them in cornstarch and let them stand an additional 24 hours.
- Roll set wafers in waxed paper and fold ends; secure with cellophane tape. You may also store them at room temperature in an air-tight container. Candies will keep for months.