Made from a simple gum base and food coloring, gumballs present only the minor -- and pleasant -- challenge of having to choose a flavor. You have thousands of oil-based candy flavorings to choose from, which gives you latitude to develop flavors you don't see in stores. You usually have to combine multiple flavors to achieve a desired taste, then a candy coating adds the essential gloss and crunch.
Making the Balls
Pour 1 cup of powdered sugar in a conical pile in the center of a piece of parchment paper for every ounce of gum pellets. Make a well in the center of the powdered sugar.
Fill a saucepan half full of water and place it on the stove over medium-high heat. Set a glass measuring cup in the water.
Add the gum pellets to the measuring cup. One ounce of gum pellets makes about 10 to 12 1/2-inch gumballs.
Add corn syrup and oil-based flavoring to the gum pellets; you need 1 1/2 tablespoons each of corn syrup and flavoring per ounce of gum base.
Heat the gum base until it softens, about 10 minutes, and stir it with the flavoring and corn syrup using a spoon. Transfer the mixed gum base to the well you made in the pile of powdered sugar.
Stir the gum base into the powdered sugar using a fork; add sugar to the gum base in portions while mixing it with a circular motion, similar to how you mix egg yolk with fresh pasta dough. Mix it until the gum cools enough to handle.
Dust the work surface with powdered sugar and knead the gum for 2 to 3 minutes. Roll the gum into a rope as wide as you want the finished gumballs.
Cut the rope into pieces using a knife. Roll the portions into balls and insert a toothpick in each.
Coating With Candy
Fill a large container or dish with ice water. Use a container large enough that your saucepan can sit in it.
Mix 2 parts granulated sugar, 1 part water and 1/2 part light corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook it over medium-high heat until it reaches 295 to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature using an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and place it in the ice water. Wait for it to just stop bubbling. Dip each gumball in the candy and let the excess drain back into the saucepan. Place the gumballs on a lightly oiled tray to harden.
Based on a combination consisting of 10 equal parts of oil-based flavoring, you need to add 3 parts banana-, 3 parts pineapple-, 2 parts wintergreen- and 1 part each cinnamon- and clove-flavored oils to the gum to create bubble-gum flavor.
You can microwave the gum base, corn syrup and flavoring on high for 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring between each, instead of melting it on the stove.
Bubbling sugar burns skin far more severely than boiling water. Wear a long-sleeve shirt and a long apron, and have a large container of ice water nearby to submerge your arm in case you spill hot candy on yourself.