From Trent Hamilton
Liquorice is actually a plant and the confectionary we eat is made from the sap extracted from its roots. Its distinctive flavour comes from a naturally sweet compound called glycyrrhizin, which is 50-times sweeter than sugar. To make liquorice, the dried roots are crushed and pulped into boiling water and the sap is extracted and dried into a golden-brown powder. It is then mixed with wheat flour, syrup and anise, dissolved in water and then boiled to create a dough. The dough is then compressed into moulds and left to dry into soft, chewy sweets.
Answered by Joanna Stass for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 104