April 12 is National Licorice Day. Of course, you could celebrate simply by eating some licorice, but why not step it up a notch?
Here are some recipes and other licorice-related activities you can try to celebrate all things licorice on this national "holiday."
1. Make Red Vines salsa
Rather than just eating licorice on National Licorice Day, why not add it to some of your favorite snacks? This licorice salsa comes together quickly and is easy to make, so anyone with even the most basic kitchen skills can tackle this recipe.
- 5 tomatoes
- ½ small red onion
- 1 jalapeno
- Handful of cilantro
- 2-3 Red Vines Twists
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tortilla chips
Directions: Chop up all your ingredients and mix into a large bowl, except for Red Vines Twists. Right before being served add your Red Vines and enjoy your sweet and spicy salsa.
2. Cast your vote
Do you prefer Twizzlers or Red Vines? What about Good & Plenty or something else entirely?
This chart shows the top 10 selling licorice brands in the United States. Twizzlers is the clear front-runner, but National Licorice Day is the perfect time to defend your candy of choice — whether it's through sharing on social media using #NationalLicoriceDay or simply voting with your wallet.
3. Don't forget dessert
These cupcakes were adapted from a recipe that was featured on an episode of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars in 2010. It originally called for cherry cola and any type of red licorice, but Melinda Strauss at the Kitchen Tested blog adapted it to use her favorite variety — Red Vines. Of course, you can feel free to make it your own as well.
- 1 box red velvet cake mix
- 1 can of Mr. Pibb Soda
- 10 Red Vines
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 egg yolks
- Buttercream or cream cheese frosting
Directions: Mix cake mix and Mr. Pibb, bake in cupcake tin at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. While cupcakes cools, get started on Red Vines filling. Cut the Red Vines into 1-inch pieces, place them in a small saucepan with the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Once cooled, whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly. Continue cooking the filling for one more minute then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Cut small holes in the cupcake, fill with Red Vines filling, and ice with some delicious icing.
4. Learn about licorice
Licorice International created National Licorice Day in 2004 to "celebrate all things licorice." To encourage participation in its big day, visitors to its facility in Lincoln, Nebraska can get free samples. Its website also provides a list of ways to observe the holiday if you can't make it for the complimentary treats.
One of those ways is reading up on the "history and benefits of licorice." So in the spirit of the original intention of National Licorice Day, here are five facts about licorice you might not have previously known:
1. The flavor most of us know as "licorice" comes from licorice root, which is also know as licorice, liquorice, sweet root, gan cao, gan-zao, or Chinese licorice, according to the National Institutes of Health.
2. Licorice candy is often flavored with anise oil rather than licorice root.
3. Licorice is used as a dietary supplement to help with digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People in Greece, China, and Egypt have treated stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems using licorice for hundreds of years. It's also been used as a shampoo and sweetener.
4. Eating too much black licorice can be harmful, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is because of the compound glycyrrhizin — the sweetening compound derived from licorice root — which can cause dangerously low potassium levels in the body. But how much is too much?
"If you’re 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia," the FDA states on its website.
5. About 90 percent of the world's licorice was once used to flavor tobacco. However, in 2009, the FDA banned the use of licorice and many other herbs and spices as "a characterizing flavor of the tobacco product or tobacco smoke."
5. Have a second dessert, just because
Red Vines Cherry Pie
- 4 cups frozen tart cherries
- 1 to 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 tablespoon vanilla extract
Red Vines filling
- 5 Red Vines
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks
- Your favorite pie crust or pie dough recipe for 2 crust pie
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter, to dot
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Red Vines filling:
1. To make the licorice filling, tear the Red Vines into 1 inch pieces, place them in a small saucepan with the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
2. Once cooled, whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly. Continue cooking the filling for one more minute, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Place cherries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add the vanilla extract, if desired, and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.
Combine cherry and Red Vines fillings
Use your favorite pie dough recipe. Prepare your crust. Divide in half. Roll out each piece large enough to fit into an 8 to 9-inch pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.