First Lady Michelle Obama invited children from military families for a craft-making session in the State Dining Room when she unveiled this year's glittering 'Joy to All' White House Christmas decor on Nov. 28. Led by Executive Chef Cris Comerford, Mrs. Obama and the kids made White House Honey Tea Lollipops, a sugary treat topped with crisp candied root vegetables. It's a holiday homage to the Kitchen Garden, where root vegetables thrive. (Above: Mrs. Obama and the kids, mid-decorating)
"They're healthy and delicious," Mrs. Obama said , as she held up a sweet wreath, sprinkled with candied carrots, celery, fennel and beets.
Flavored with green tea, peppermint oil, and citrus zest, the recipe calls for sugar, corn syrup and honey, and the candied vegetables are anchored with Royal Icing or frosting. It is the season of indulgence, after all, and kids might not even notice the veggies. (Above: Mrs. Obama holds up her lollipop with Comerford and the kids)
Chef Comerford's recipe calls for 'White House honey,' but also suggests that any 'local honey' can be substituted. Tea other than green tea can be used, and the Top Toque advises that either peppermint oil or peppermint extract is fine (she used oil). Home chefs will need lollipop molds and wood lollipop sticks: Mrs. Obama and her junior chefs used Christmas tree and wreath molds. A candy thermometer, a pastry brush, and parchment paper are required in addition to sauce pans and a baking tray. A mandoline is helpful for thin slicing, and a squirt bottle for the Royal Icing makes things easy.
The lollipops need to cool in their molds before decorating. The White House recipe for Royal Icing is below the lollipop recipe, which makes 6 large or 12 small lollipops.
White House Honey Tea Lollipops
*1 Cup Turbinado sugar
*6 Tbsp White House honey (or any local honey)
*3 Tbsp light corn syrup
*1 Cup green tea (or your favorite tea), brewed strongly, bag(s) removed
*2 small tangerines, for zest
*1 Tbsp Peppermint oil (or extract)
*Root vegetables: Any combination of carrots, celery, beets, fennel, etc, or roots of your choice
*Royal Icing (recipe below)
*Nonstick cooking spray
Method for lollipops
1. Combine the Turbinado sugar, honey, corn syrup and steeped tea in a small saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer to side. Cook on high heat on top of stove, until temperature reaches 310 degrees F.
2. While cooking down the syrup, occasionally brush the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to help prevent crystallization.
3. Spray the lollipop molds with nonstick cooking spray. Place lollipop sticks into molds.
4. Remove sauce pan from heat, and place in an ice bath for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Quickly mix in peppermint and tangerine zest. Do not let sit in ice bath, or syrup will harden.
5. Pour the syrup into molds and cool for at least half an hour before decorating. Carefully unmold and transfer to decorating tray.
Method for candied vegetables
1. Preheat oven to 200 F.
2. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the carrots, celery, fennel, etc.
3. Heat simple syrup in a sauce pan, and dip sliced vegetables in until covered.
4. Lay vegetables in a single layer on parchment covered baking sheet.
5. Bake for about an hour until vegetables are crisp and dry.
6. Allow to cool, then crumble into small pieces to fit on lollipops.
Spread Royal Icing or frosting on each lollipop, and sprinkle on vegetables.
*Makes 6 large lollipops or 12 small lollipops
2 Cups Confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 egg white
1 Tsp lemon juice
Mix ingredients with paddle attachment on electric blender (or by hand) for 5 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more lemon juice or a little egg white to desired consistency. Food safety suggestion: Use pasteurized egg whites, since the icing is not cooked.
Above, Chef Comerford with the ingredients.
Check out the 2012 White House Gingerbread House and the 2012 holiday recipe for Pomegranate Tree Ornaments; check the side bar for all White House recipes. Click here for links to all posts about the 2012 holidays.
Download: The 2012 Official White House Holiday Tour Booklet [PDF].
*Top photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House; others by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama