Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No Tricks, Just Treats - Homemade Candy Corn

Do you like candy corn?  Do you hate candy corn?  It seems like there's very little middle ground here.  But I have the solution: homemade candy corn.  If you like candy corn, you will LOVE this, and if you hate candy corn, give this a try, because it's not like any candy corn you've had before.


Word of warning: this is a treat.  We make it a couple of times a year, tops.  So it does include ingredients that are not typically in my lexicon.  There is corn syrup.  There is food coloring.  Both of which you can find more natural versions of, but both of which I wouldn't make a habit out of using. Here, they make it work.  I don't live in black and white.  And hey, it's still better than that ingredient list of the bagged stuff, plus I know what's going into it.



The original recipe that I use for candy corn came from Alton Brown, that wonderful , science-geeky, brilliant foodie-minded genius.  Like most things, once I got comfortable with it, I started to play around and push it a bit, but the basic recipe is the same.  It's much easier than you'd think.


In a food processor, measure out 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, 6 1/2 tablespoons of powdered dry milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Give it 6 pulses to blend it well.


In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of light corn syrup, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of water.  Put it over medium heat, covered, and cook for 4 minutes.


Then remove the lid, add 2 tablespoons of butter, and put in a candy thermometer to watch the temperature.  Cook it a few minutes more until the temperature reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit.


Take it off the heat and add in 1/2 teaspoon of the extract of your choice.  For a classic, go with vanilla.  With my more colorful candy corn, I went with lemon this time.  If you're making these for another holiday, change it up.  Peppermint or cinnamon would be fantastic for Christmas candy corn!


After the extract, mix in the dry mix until everything is combined.  Pour it out onto a sheet of parchment and let it cool a few minutes, until you can work with it.


Divide the dough into 3 parts.  Add a few drops of food coloring to the balls and knead to mix.


Classic candy corn uses white, yellow, and orange, but again, feel free to break out of the mold.  I am thrilled with the purple/orange/green combo.  I think they look like monster fangs, or witches' incisors.


Roll each color out into thin snakes.  Don't stress if they break, just do a bit at a time, and then smush them together as necessary.  If you have little helpers with clean hands, this is a great job for them to help with.


Line up the three colors together and lightly smush.

Cut the candies.  You can use a knife, but I like using my straight edge.  It's also a bit safer to let my kiddios have a go with it.


Once the candies are cut, use your fingers to finish shaping them into the classic candy corn triangles.  I find that using the natural V of pinching fingers makes it quick and easy, but my helpers all follow their own drummers.


If you have leftovers of a color or two, or if you're just feeling creative, do your own thing!  This year, pumpkins and "monster eyeballs" made an appearance at our place, as did "tie-dye balls".  It's all about having fun!


Let the candies dry on the parchment for at least an hour, then move them to an air-tight container, with parchment sheets dividing the layers.  They get better after a day or two, but don't get me wrong...they're excellent right from the start.


Making candy corn has become one of my family's favorite fall traditions.  It's quick and easy, and a lot of fun.  I love that we can have bonding time in the kitchen like that.  Give it a try and maybe start your own Halloween tradition!