Although sugar shouldn’t be a regular feature in a healthy diet, homemade candy making can be a delightful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day without the artificial sweeteners and dyes found in typical store-bought candy. Roses, hawthorn, and Rhodiola are the herbs that take center stage for these special Valentine’s Day herbal lollipops, and they bring a little herbal goodness to the party.
About The Herbs
Hawthorn is beloved by herbalists for being near and dear to the emotional as well as the physical heart, so it’s an obvious choice for these lollipops, but you might be less familiar with the herbal uses of rose and rhodiola.
The symbol of love itself, red rose petals have an uplifting influence on the emotions. Some even find the scent of roses to be an aphrodisiac! Rose also has an affinity for liver health.
Rhodiola is an adaptogen that seems to have an affinity for the heart as well as helping to balance the reproductive system in both men and women. Rhodiola is sometimes known as roseroot, because the fragrance and flavor of the root resemble that of roses.
Hibiscus is included for its tart, fruity flavor and to help impart a dark, seductive shade of red wine to the finished lollipops. Despite being made with sugar, these lollipops will have a floral taste underneath the tangy flavor of hibiscus and a slight bitter note that is a signature of Rhodiola. (If you have ever enjoyed horehound candy you will be familiar with that herbal, bitter undertone, but these do not come anywhere near horehound’s level of bitterness!)
For Adults Only
The unique taste of these Valentine’s Day herbal lollipops alone makes them suitable for more sophisticated adult palates, but because they include Rhodiola, an adaptogen, these lollipops are not intended for children. If you are pregnant, please talk to your doctor and herbalist before enjoying this recipe as adaptogens may not be suitable for you.
Making the Herbal Decoction
For the first step, you will need to make a decoction of herbs that will be the liquid used in your Valentine’s Day herbal lollipops. This decoction will be made using a two part process because some of the ingredients are better prepared as an herbal infusion which will help preserve their more delicate flavors and aromas.
Valentine's Day Herbal Lollipops Decoction
1 tablespoon powdered hawthorn berry
1 tablespoon powdered rose hips
1 tablespoon powdered Rhodiola root
1 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon rose petals (Added during the 2nd step)
1 tablespoon dried roselle hibiscus calyxes (Added during the 2nd step)
Glass measuring cup (heat safe)
- Combine the powdered hawthorn berries, Rhodiola root, and water in an enamel saucepan and simmer the herbs for 30 minutes. Make sure to leave the lid on during the simmering process to help prevent flavor and fragrance from escaping from your decoction as steam.
- Once the decoction has simmered for 30 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and place it on a trivet or heat safe surface. Add the rose petals and hibiscus and replace the lid. Allow the brew to infuse for ten minutes.
- While your herbs are infusing, fit the mesh strainer onto your heat safe measuring cup. Gently pour the decoction through the mesh strainer into the glass measuring cup, then stain again through a coffee filter.
- Straining the herbal powders out of the lollipops is important to give them a pleasant texture. If you need to repeat the process again using a fresh change of coffee filters to remove all of the powder, please do.
- Measure out ⅔ of your herbal decoction and place it in a clean saucepan. You should have just enough, but if you need to, you can add a little water to bring the liquid up to the correct volume.
How to Make the Herbal Lollipops
Many of our readers are interested in avoiding corn syrup, so for this recipe I adapted a version of basic hard candy from Food Network that utilizes cream of tartar to stand in for corn syrup.
Corn syrup is an invert sugar that helps keep hard candy clear and pretty (and smooth in the mouth) by preventing unnecessary crystallization.
Cream of tartar (Potassium bitartrate) is a by-product of winemaking. When used in hard candy, it helps convert sucrose—your table sugar—into a slightly different form (glucose), which is an invert sugar like corn syrup.
Hard candy made with herbs may foam during the cooking process. Please be careful to use at least a 4 quart saucepan for this recipe, otherwise your candy will boil over and make a huge mess!
To turn your decoction into Valentine’s Day herbal lollipops, follow the directions below.
Rose Petal and Rhodiola Valentine’s Day Herbal Lollipops
Yield: up to 36 small lollipops
2 cups sugar (for the best texture and clarity, use white sugar)
⅔ cups of herbal decoction
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Lollipop molds and lollipop sticks (enough for 36 small lollipops)
4 or 6 quart saucepan
- Lightly spray your lollipop molds and place the sticks in the molds. You will need to work quickly when it’s time to pour the candy.
- Combine the herbal decoction, sugar, and cream of tartar in a saucepan.
- Over medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Do not stir while you wait for the temperature to reach 310 Fahrenheit. Reminder: Herbal hard candies may foam during the cooking process, so do pay attention and be careful!
- As soon as the correct temperature is reached, remove your pan from the heat and fill your candy molds.
- Remove your lollipops from the molds after 20 minutes (or once they have cooled completely) and wrap them individually to protect them from moisture. Hawthorn berries have a high level of pectin that will make your lollipops more prone to softening and attracting moisture, so these candies are best enjoyed immediately or within a day or two.
Even adults need a treat from time to time, and it’s hard to go wrong with heart-happy botanicals to grace your homemade candies! Rose Petal and Rhodiola Valentine’s Day Herbal Lollipops are a fun way to enjoy crafting a little herbal magic for yourself and a loved one this Valentine’s Day!