Homemade Conversation Hearts Recipe

Photographs: Sarah Jane Sanders

Sprite gives the candies a faint acidity that helps them taste like the real thing, and to that same end, I've made suggestions for how to flavor each color to match the classic flavor line up. But don't hesitate to experiment! No doubt you'll think of all sorts of fun, alternative flavor pairings limited only by the extracts or freeze dried fruits you can get your hands on.

I don't provide measurements for the food colorings, as the quantity needed varies from brand to brand, but as a general rule: easy does it! It takes only a tiny amount of gel paste or a drop of liquid coloring to get the colors just right.

If you can get a few pairs of disposable gloves, you'll save yourself a lot of hand washing and the annoyance of trying to knead the candy inside a plastic bag or between sheets of food wrap.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 24 hrs
Serves: 24 to 32 servings
Makes: 4 cups

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For the Candy Dough:

  • 1/4 ounce gelatin

  • 4 ounces Sprite

  • 40 ounces powdered sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To Flavor and Color the Candies:

  • For white: 1 to 2 drops wintergreen extract

  • For yellow: 1/4 ounce freeze-dried bananas, ground into a powder

  • For pink: 1/4 ounce freeze-dried strawberries or cherries, ground into a powder

  • For green: 3 to 4 drops key lime extract

  • For orange: 1/4 teaspoon orange extract plus 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water

  • For purple: 1 drop clove oil

  • Coordinated food colorings


  1. To Bloom the Gelatin: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine gelatin and Sprite. Whisk with a fork to combine; let stand five minutes. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the bowl of gelatin over hot water and stir occasionally until melted. (If using a hand mixer you can use a water bath too, or use a microwave-safe bowl and zap the gelatin at 5-second intervals until melted.)

  2. To Make the Sugar Paste: Fit the stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix melted gelatin/Sprite mixture with about two cups of powdered sugar and until it forms a sauce-like consistency. Add in the salt and continue adding powdered sugar, a few cups at a time, until a dough forms. You may not need all of the powdered sugar; use any excess for rolling out the paste later.

  3. The finished candy "dough" should be thick, malleable, and not particularly sticky. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead (using more powdered sugar to prevent sticking if necessary) until smooth. With a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into six portions, or however many colors/flavor portions you plan on having. Place all the dough portions into a zippy bag, or wrap each in plastic

  4. To Flavor and Color the Candies: If you have disposable gloves, this next step will be easy, just like kneading bread dough. If you don't, you'll knead the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or through a large zippy bag. Take one portion of dough, unwrap, and make an indentation in the center with your fingers. In the well, place a few drops of the desired extract/freeze-dried fruit powder along with a touch of food coloring (if using).

  5. Knead the dough until the color is perfectly uniform, about 3 minutes. Taste a pinch of the dough and adjust the flavor if need be.

  6. To Roll and Cut the Candy: Have a parchment-lined sheet tray ready. On a surface dusted very lightly with powdered sugar, roll the dough out with a pin to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a heart-shaped cutter to stamp out the candies. You can gather and re-roll the scraps as many times as you like. Transfer the cut-outs to the prepared tray and set aside. Repeat the flavoring/coloring, rolling, and cutting process with remaining dough.

  7. To Dry the Candy: Let the cut-out hearts air dry, uncovered, for at least 24 hours. If you have pets or kids, be sure to set the trays somewhere out of the way. After 24 hours, sample one of the candies. If the texture is to your liking, you're done! If you prefer a harder, crunchier texture, flip the hearts over to expose their bottom sides and dry another 24 hours. In either case, decorate the candies (or not) with a food pen. Store in an airtight container, indefinitely.

Special Equipment

Disposable gloves, rolling pin, heart-shaped mini cutters


All measurements are in weights, as volume measures can be very imprecise. I strongly recommend using a scale for all pastry projects. Serious Eats' recommended kitchen scale is the Oxo Good Grips Scale with Pull Out Display.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
145 Calories
0g Fat
36g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24 to 32
Amount per serving
Calories 145
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 35g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)