Halloween Candy, Better Late Than Never

I always like to take on unusual cooking or baking projects, especially anything that makes other people say, "I can't believe you made this!" Of course, some of these projects are more challenging than others. While I'm pretty good at making marshmallows, caramels, and cream-filled cupcakes, I've also had some marked disasters, like my repeated sorry attempts at making nougat, and the great candied grapefruit rind fiasco of early 2008. Last year I tried making candy corn for the first time, with mixed results. But we're having a belated Halloween/Oktoberfest party at the office this Thursday, so I thought I would give it another try this year.

It never even occurred to me that you could make your own candy corn, until I came across a post on the Washington Post Mighty Appetite Blog last Halloween on the topic. Post blogger Kim O'Donnell made candy corn using a recipe posted on the Bon Appetit editors' blog (unfortunately, I could no longer find this original post from October 2006; it appears to no longer be available), taking into consideration some tips offered from the Urban Housewife in blog posts here and here.

The recipe (slightly adapted by me) is as follows:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered dry nonfat milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • food coloring
Sift together the powdered sugar, dry milk and salt and set aside. Bring the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla to a boil, and let the mixture bubble over moderate heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the dry ingredients until they are totally incorporated. Immediately divide the mixture into thirds in separate bowls. Color one third yellow and another third orange, kneading the dough as necessary to evenly incorporate the food coloring. Leave the last third white and knead it until smooth.

Take a portion of each color dough and roll it into a rope. Place three differently colored ropes alongside each other, press them together, and cut the dough into candy corn triangles with a sharp knife. Shape and smooth each candy corn to make sure the pieces stick together and you get nice looking candy corns. (The original recipe instructs you to let the dough cool for 20 minutes before coloring and kneading it... I have found that waiting this long lets the dough become very stiff, to the point where kneading in the color is extremely difficult, and the dough may harden so much that it's difficult to shape and get the different colors to stick together. It might be a good idea to invite some friends over who can help you make and shape the candy corns as quickly as possible, while the dough is still warm and pliable.) I make my candy corns about twice the size of the store-bought variety, only because it's quicker than sitting around shaping tiny candy corns all night. These candy corns don't taste like much, since their only flavoring is vanilla. But if someone asked me to describe what store-bought candy corn tastes like, my answer would probably be "wax."

I also decided to try making pumpkin seed brittle for the first time. If you try this recipe, take to heart the observation in the recipe that the sugar becomes dry and grainy before it melts for the final time. Otherwise, you might think you have a complete disaster on your hands. Also, the final mixture is extremely hot, but you have to work at light speed to roll it out and cut it, because it sets up almost immediately. I'm sporting a burned finger this morning, but I also have some tasty brittle!

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Anonymous said…
"Real" candy corns don't taste like much either; somehow I'm sure yours are better! Looking forward to trying them tomorrow.