Friday, October 12, 2012

Ramune (ラムネ)

Ramune (rah-mu-neh) are Japanese candies that nearly all little ones regularly devour. In my experience, these are often the first candies given to babies. They are chalky and disintegrate once they hit your mouth. They are kind of similar to American Smarties, but fall apart more easily. Although my description sounds quite gross, I ADORE these and often sneak some of K's while he's not looking.

The other week we were at a friend's house and she mentioned that a mom of one of her older son's soccer teammates made ramune from scratch. Why didn't I ever think of that?!?

I looked up a recipe and got cracking. The recipe I found called for:

60g powdered sugar
25g cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water or juice

You mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add the liquids and mix with your fingers. Then sprinkle the baking soda on and mix really well. Then form it into shapes. Once they are shaped, let them dry out for an hour or two.

I followed the directions exactly and they were turning out quite well, but they looked so boring just white. This is where things started to go to pot. I added red powdered food coloring and mixed that in. I couldn't get it perfect, so I was left with red/pink speckles in my candy. They tasted fine at the beginning. As it was nighttime when I was making these, I decided to leave them out overnight. I tasted one in the morning and they just tasted of chemicals - thanks red dye #whatever.

I should also mention that these take forever to shape individually. I used a tiny cutter meant for Japanese lunches as a mold, but it took ages to pack the sugar in and then gently press it out. As it took so long, imagine my disappointment when I awoke and had a mouth full of chemicals.

I went into round two prepared - I bought colored, flavored powdered sugar. As each packet only contained 20g of powdered sugar, I altered the recipe a tad:
20g powdered sugar
8g cornstarch
1/8 to 1/6 teaspoon baking soda
~1 teaspoon lemon juice

I followed the assembly as above using melon-flavored sugar (green), but the first time I added about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. The resulting consistency was too dry and it was difficult to keep the shape.

Next up was lemon-flavored sugar. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and these were so wet they couldn't even hold their shape enough to put into the mold. I ended up rolling out balls that soon became blobs.

The last flavor was strawberry. I added the lemon juice little by little and got close to a good consistency, but it was still on the dry/flaky side.

Finally I used regular powdered sugar, adding in the lemon juice little by little and got a perfect consistency.

I think if you were to follow the original recipe, you'd probably be fine. Also, I recommend sticking to regular powdered sugar - I think the flavored ones changed the makeup of the "dough". But! The recipe makes a lot of these little candies. Because each one takes a bit of time to mold, this recipe ends up taking a good amount of time to make.

If you make only a third of it, you don't spend hours molding tiny hearts, but you only end up with a handful of candies. Moral of the story: if you want these, I recommend buying them. If you can't buy any, give it a go, but no blaming me when you waste an hour making candies for babies.

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