Have you heard the one about the super simple way of packing a high amount of alcohol into gummi bears? I was extremely skeptical, so like any good scientist* I decided to test it myself. The result? Hooboy...
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The technique is simple to the point that it sounds preposterous:
Step 1: Empty a bag of gummi bears into a container.
Step 2: Pour in enough vodka so that the gummis are completely covered—and then some.
Step 3: Cover the container, put it in the fridge, and leave it for 3-5 days.
That's it. There's no way that could work, right? My hangover says otherwise.
For my experiment I used a bag of Haribo Gummi Bears and some very tasty Tito's vodka. After three days I pulled the gummis out. They were significantly bigger, as you can see in the photos with the tape measure. I popped one in my mouth, and there was that unmistakeable high-proof alcohol burn. These things are strong. And the texture had dramatically changed. It no longer had the gummi chewiness—it was more like a very firm Jell-O, and you could almost slurp them. Yes, small, bear-shaped Jell-O shots. They weren't quite "done" after three days, though. They still had a harder gummi core, so I put them back in the vodka, and let them go for another two days.
After five days had passed, I pulled them out, and ate half a bag's worth. In the name of science.*
Half a bag gave me a pretty decent buzz. I have no doubt that the sugar in the gummis adds to the effect. It may also be because you're holding the booze in your mouth longer as you chew and explore the texture. Regardless, I was all warm n' giddy. The solid core was gone. They were bigger, jigglier, and a bit smoother going down. That brings me to an important note: these don't taste like gummi bears that happen to have booze in them. No, they taste like vodka with gummi bear flavoring. Not really my thing, but I was won over by the novelty. So why not try it with other spirits, right?
My second round, I used Jameson's Irish whiskey, Cornelius applejack, and Mansinthe absinthe. They were all pretty good. The whiskey and applejack batches were both very sweet, but pretty mild. The absinthe batch was very absinthey. Hard notes of licorice, lots of burn, and they kind of turned white-ish (see photo). A neat experiment, but I'll probably stick with vodka next time.
I've heard internet rumors that cops are taking alcoholic gummi bears from kids on the subway every day. I'm dubious. Because, frankly, I tried to take them on the subway (to bring to a friend's house, not to eat in public*) and they completely liquified in the tupperware container. So sad. (see photo)
So, yes, it's possible to make alcoholic gummi bears. They're not fantastic on their own, but they might be a fun thing to put out at a party. Or, you can use them as a topping on your alcoholic ice cream, and then you've really got something. Mmm...
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Photo credit: Stefanie Charlotte
Thanks to Eileen for the recommendation!