Oct 16, 2011

Homemade Candy Corn

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Hello, darling readers! If you’ve visited Piece of Cake often enough, you might notice that things are looking a little different around here. And I’ll tell you what–I’m just so pumped about the whole thing. I hope you’ll take a minute to poke around and learn the new lay of the land, much as I have been doing the past couple days (minus all my hand-wringing and being all Andy Rooney about new-fangled technology and change). There may be a few kinks here and there that we’ll smooth out, but hey, what’s life without a little bit of crazy?

Oh, hey, speaking of crazy, I made my own candy corn the other day. I know, right? What could be more ridiculous and yet so totally perfect right now? In the midst of deadlines and website blah-blah-blahs, I still couldn’t help but get inspired to try this insane culinary experiment. And, as usual, it’s the fabulous Jessie Oleson (you may know her as CakeSpy) who put such an adorably whackadoodle idea in my head. We can all rejoice that the Queen of Sweet Teeth has just released her first cookbook, and if ever there was a compilation of recipes that so perfectly encompassed the persona of its author, its this one. I dare you to read this book and not crack a smile. Can’t be done, people. This book is a stack of sugary joy, plain and simple.

I’ve been a fan of CakeSpy for years, and might have e-mailed back creepily fast when I was asked to participate in a “blog book tour” for this book. I love Jessie’s unabashed celebration of sugar and her knack for whimsy, whipping up the sorts of recipes that have you asking: can you actually do that?! Like this candy corn, for instance. (See also Candy Salad, Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict and Cupcake-Stuffed Cupcakes. Yes, really.)

I found that when one decides to make one’s own candy corn, its best not to ask questions. This is fun, people. It’s equal parts confectionery endeavor, engineering feat and hysterical edible Play-Doh experiment. And it totally lays the smackdown on regular old bagged candy corn.  Just get prepared, get started, get on it. Yeah!

I’m not the only one helping to spread the word about this great little book. Check out what some of my other favorite food bloggers are making!

October 10—Cupcake Project
October 11—Bake It in a Cake!
October 13—Dessert First
October 14—Cookie Madness
October 15—Bake and Destroy
October 16—Piece of Cake
October 17—Not Martha
October 18—Scoopalicious

October 20—Blondie and Brownie

Homemade Candy Corn

Adapted from Jessie Oleson’s CakeSpy Presents: Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

Makes about 3 cups of 3/4-inch pieces

A few tips: Heatproof gloves are a good idea here, especially if you’re going to be making this an activity with kiddos, to protect your hands from both the hot spots in the candy dough and staining from the food coloring while kneading it in. 

I found it was helpful to divide each color or dough into a few smaller portions before forming them into shorter ropes instead of trying to make one superlong one. I also might have been a little slow in my rope-forming, because the candy got a little too firm to work with at times, but that was remedied by tossing the dough into the microwave for five seconds or so just to warm it a bit. When the ropes were all formed and lined up together, I popped them in a low oven for a few minutes to warm them again so they’d smoosh together and adhere better when rolled. 

Nonstick cooking spray is your friend here–I used it on the bowls for dividing up the dough and on the work surface. 

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/3 cup powdered milk

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup corn syrup

1/3 cup salted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Red and yellow food coloring

In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for five minutes, stirring occasionally–the mixture will reduce and thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir to blend well. Transfer the dough to a bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and let it cool until it’s cool enough the handle.

Divide the dough into thirds, placing each third in its own bowl. Kneading food coloring into the dough with your hands, color one third yellow, another third orange, and leave the last third white.

Form each third of dough into a long thin rope, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Lay the ropes side by side, touching each other: white, orange and yellow. To ensure they stick together, place a piece of waxed or parchment paper on top and roll gently with a rolling pin just to get the ropes to adhere, not to flatten them too much. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, snip the dough into triangles. Keep a damp cloth nearby so you can wipe the knife or scissors clean of candy residue every so often. Let the finished kernels set in the open air in a single layer until they are dry to the touch, about an hour or two. Store in a single layer in a cool, dry place.

  • I love candy corn!

    Your’s look gorgeous. Mine, not so much. In the first step, did you mean combine ALL the sugar with butter and corn syrup or is it just the granulated sugar? My first attempt came out more like grainy toffy so I’ve certainly bofo’d one of the steps.

    New site is swell, BTW.

    • I love that you tried this already! Sorry it wasn’t a blazing success, though. You were definitely right in that only the granulated sugar goes in the pot at first. The first thing that comes to mind is maybe that the heat was a little too high once the mixture came to a boil and caused it to seize a bit. When I made mine, I brought it to a boil on high, then reduced the heat to medium. Maybe that would help? And thanks for the compliments! 🙂

  • These look so tasty and so much fun, Shauna! I am completely and utterly smitten with your new site, your photos, and just everything new & fresh here. Go Shauna!
    PS. I may die if I don’t get that book of yours in my hands soon. xo

    • Oh, you’ll get a copy soon enough, girlfriend, don’t you worry. XO

  • Love the new site! Congrats!! And homemade candy corn? So fun!!!

    • Thanks, Lady!

  • your new site looks great! i want to ditch work tomorrow and just make candy. only my track record with candy is bad. it never seems to come out right. but i’m going to have to try this one anyway.

    • Thanks, Kim! Come on back soon. 🙂

  • Looks tasty and not nearly as chemically of ingredients as traditional bagged candy corn. What’s the yield?

    • Thanks for letting me know that I forgot it! Duly noted and edited.

  • Oh my gosh! Super cute, love these.

  • First off, LOVE your site. LOVE!
    Second of all, just ordered 2 copies of Jessie’s book.
    AND homemade candy corn is like crazy-insanely-genius.

  • Is there any way to replace the corn syrup with brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, light molasses, grade A maple syrup or creamed honey with good results? I am happy to experiment, but if anyone knows what definitely won’t work and what might, please chime in. Also – are there any flavorings that might be nice to add? Thanks!

    • You know, I’m not sure. In my experience with other candies, the results are pretty good when you swap out syrups, the only difference being that sometimes the finished product is a bit softer than recipes made with corn syrup. If I were to pick one to try, I’d probably go with brown rice syrup. Would love for you to report back if you try it!

  • love the new design shauna. xo

    • Thank you! xo right back atcha.

  • Looks great! And cool website. Question: Could I do a low-carb version of this, substituting splenda for the sugar and that confectioner’s style splenda for the confectioner’s sugar and maybe even some kind of splenda syrup, if it exists, for the corn syrup?

    • Darling Ben,

      The answer is absolutely not.

      Love, Shauna

      PS–Seriously though, it’s a question of chemistry. You just won’t get good results. But if you whip up a successful low carb version, report back!

  • they look great! and not as hard to make as I thought

  • […] I just discovered that it’s possible to steer clear of the storebought candy corn and make your own.  In Bangkok, a kitchen project so all-American and blatantly fallish is tempting, but since my […]

  • […] Get the recipe from Piece of Cake. […]

  • they look delish and cant wait to make them..i was just wondering..because im a baker for many years and love to experiment and try new things…a drop of lemon oil in the yellow and a drop of orange oil in the orange…hmmmmm sounds like something i would like to try…what do you think?

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