THESE musk sticks taste like the ones we had as kids. A little crisp on the outside, and tender in the centre, these are the “goldilocks” of the musk-stick world — the aroma, flavour and texture are just right. I must warn you they are rather more-ish, and all my guinea pigs agreed “they taste like musk sticks, only better”. You can double the batch if you have a big kid’s party on. Or even a big-kids’ party.
MAKES ABOUT 32 STICKS
mild-flavoured cooking oil spray
4 small gelatine sheets (6 g/¹⁄ oz in total),
8 each about 7 cm x 11.5 cm (2¾ inches x 4¼ inches)
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
½ teaspoon good-quality musk essence a few drops of pure vanilla extract
2 drops of red food colouring (optional) 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) icing sugar mixture, sifted Spray two baking trays with cooking oil spray. Line the trays with baking paper. (Oiling the trays first will help the baking paper sheets adhere, so they don’t slip around when you’re trying to pipe the musk mixture on to them.)
Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes, or until soft and pliable. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.
Put the gelatine in a saucepan with the glucose and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) cold water. Stir over high heat until the gelatine sheets have melted. Remove from the heat and tip into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
When the mixture is cool, add the musk essence, vanilla and food colouring, if using. Add 125 g (4½ oz/1 cup) of the icing sugar and beat at low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to high and whisk for 1 minute, or until smooth and evenly coloured.
Turn your machine off and add the remaining icing sugar. Mix in slowly, then increase the speed to high for about 3 minutes, to ensure it is all well incorporated, and a little like a thick, raw meringue mixture.
Put the mixture into a piping (icing) bag fitted with a 1 cm (½ inch) star-shaped nozzle and pipe 10 cm (4 inch) lengths on to the baking trays. (If your mixture is too firm to pipe, simply tip it back into the electric mixer bowl and add extra cold water, just 1 teaspoon at a time, until you have a pliable consistency. Just be careful not to add too much — a little water goes a long way in this recipe.)
Leave in a cool, dry place to set overnight. The musk sticks should be crisp and dry all the way through. They will keep in an airtight container for several months, but will soften over time, as sugar is a fickle medium and its natural moisture content depends on the weather.