When Halloween rolls around, I’m usually stuck in the candy aisle trying to decide what kids like nowadays. Besides a tangle of spider rings and an economy-size sack of chocolate bars, I usually leave with a bag of Tootsie Rolls -- more for me than for the trick-or-treaters. It’s something I always received in my treat bag as a kid.
I love re-creating nostalgic candies at home, and the idea of making homemade Tootsie Rolls has always appealed to me. I came up with my own Tootsie Roll recipe after trying several that seemed too sweet. I ditched the corn syrup for honey and traded in the semisweet chocolate for good quality unsweetened cocoa powder. The end result is a lightly chocolate-flavored chewy candy that is reminiscent of the real thing. And besides melting a little butter, it’s a no cook and no bake recipe!
The texture of a homemade Tootsie Roll is slightly less firm than its classic counterpart, but no less delicious. The honey is mostly masked by the cocoa flavor but I really love the little nuance it gives the candy. I used wildflower honey but different types of honey will impart different subtleties, so have fun choosing what to use! You can also add a little espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor, though this is a more grown-up option and not recommended for kiddie treats.
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Homemade Tootsie Rolls Makes 22-24 pieces
½ cup honey ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted Pinch of salt 1 to 1 ¼ cup instant non-fat dry milk powder
In a large bowl, combine honey, cocoa powder and vanilla using a whisk. Add the melted butter and whisk until well incorporated. Add in the powdered sugar and pinch of salt; whisk again until well combined.
Using a wooden spoon, mix in the instant milk powder ¼ cup at a time until a dough forms. When you can no longer stir the mixture with a spoon, knead it with your hands. Keep adding in milk powder until a firm dough forms. You may not have to use all the milk powder. The finished dough should be firm and a little sticky but not so sticky that you can’t handle it. Roll the dough into a ball and place on waxed paper lightly sprayed with cooking oil or coated with butter or vegetable oil.
Let dough rest uncovered on the wax paper for 5-10 minutes. As the candy stands it will relax from a ball shape into a disc. Cut candy into ¾-inch strips and then into 2-inch lengths. If candy sticks to the knife, spray it with cooking oil or coat it with butter.
Cut wax paper into 3 ½ x 5 inch pieces. Wrap candies with the wax paper pieces.
Store candies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Save and print the recipe here. Heather will be answering questions about Tootsie Rolls on the Hotline for those of you who want to take on this project at home. For the quickest response, go to her recipe and ask a question from there -- we'll email her your question right away!
I'm Heather, an artist-turned-baker with a passion for desserts! I write the SprinkleBakes blog - a place where I show people how to add more sparkle to their baking. I live in Knoxville, TN. with my husband Mark and two pugs named Biscuit and Churro. My book "SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist" was published May 2012.