I originally got this recipe from Taste of Home a couple years ago! Gotta give credit where credit is due. These are so soft and yummy and have become a Christmas favorite of my Mom's, hubby's and brother-in-law's! They are quite addicting, and I don't even really like black licorice.
You can play with this recipe and make to your desired firmness by letting the candy cook longer. And you can add or subtract the amount of anise for milder or stronger taste.
Line an 8" square dish with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, milk, butter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring pretty constantly. Insert a candy thermometer, making sure that the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring until the thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). I have been playing with the degrees to try to find that perfect chew.
After reaching desired degrees, remove pan from heat and stir in extract and food coloring keeping your face away from the steam as it is very strong when first added. Stir well.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Do Not scrape the bottom of the saucepan! Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
Lift parchment paper out of pan and place on cutting board. Cut into desired sizes with a pizza cutter. Wrap each piece in waxed paper. Share and enjoy!