The minute Christmas ends, candy-heart season begins. Between December 26 and February 14, Necco sells roughly 3 billion Sweethearts, printed with one of about 40 Valentine sentiments. The candies, invented in 1866, used to be stamped by hand, one heart at a time; today’s candy press can ink 80 in one stroke. The company gets tons of requests for custom hearts, but you have to order in bulk and you can print only a few messages. With this recipe from Food Network Kitchens, you can customize the words — and the flavors, too.
Whisk the gelatin, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and 1/2 cup boiling water in a stand mixer bowl until the gelatin dissolves. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the confectioners' sugar on medium-low speed, 1 cup at a time, to make a stiff, sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead, adding more confectioners' sugar as needed (up to 1 cup), until the dough is smooth, pliable and slightly tacky, about 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Flatten 1 piece into a disk. (Cover the rest with plastic wrap.) Add a few drops each of food coloring and extract to the center of the dough; fold in the sides and pinch closed, then knead until the color is distributed.
Lightly coat a large piece of parchment paper with cooking spray. Roll out the colored dough on the parchment until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into hearts using 1-inch cookie cutters; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, using different colors and extracts. Let the hearts sit at room temperature, uncovered, until dry and hard, about 24 hours, flipping them halfway through. Write messages on the hearts using food decorating pens. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.