Thursday, October 25, 2012

Candy Corn

Quickly!  There’s still time to make a batch of this delicious candy corn to share with your friends and family (or eat yourself) before halloween next week!  “Homemade candy corn?!?” you may think. “Why would I make that at home? Can’t I just buy it instead?” 

There are several reasons why one may choose to make candy corn at home, instead of simply buying it.  One reason might be that you’re curious about the process.  Or that you just don’t feel like braving the crowds (and the mess) of Walmart to buy it yourself.  Or that you don’t really like store bought candy corn and want to know if the homemade version is tastes better.  Or that you love doing semi-tedious, but artistic pastry items.  Or the reason could be all of the above.

Homemade candy corn is a bit of a labor of love.  In fact, I had to make this recipe twice before it turned out (and it’s not often I have to repeat recipes).  Once the candy base was made (second time was the charm), it took quite a long time to assemble, cut, and hand shape every single individual candy corn piece & pumpkin.  But there is no comparison in how much more flavor this homemade version has, as opposed to the store bought.  I can’t stop eating it!  I had to send the remaining pieces with my husband to work, just to stop me from consuming any more.

So break out your candy thermometer, your food coloring, your sharp knife, and your patience.  Get all of your ingredients and equipment ready, thoroughly read through the entire recipe once before beginning, and get to work on your own candy corn!  And let the sugar coma commence.  I may even begin to make candy corn in other colors and flavors for other holidays.

Homemade Candy Corn
adapted from Alton Brown

Most of the time, I find Alton Brown’s recipes to be fool proof, but this time, I had to do a bit of tweeking....  Please, make sure you have everything ready (all equipment out, all ingredients pre-measured) before you begin!  I used the weighted measurements, which are always more exact, but he includes volumetric measurements as well.  Use the volumetric measurements at your own risk!  And I wouldn't recommend making candy on a rainy day.  The humidity can make everything too sticky  

Equipment needed

  • 2 qt sauce pan (3qt is too big!) 
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Mesh Strainer for sifting 
  • Whisk
  • Silicone Spatula
  • Silpat Silicone mat (if you have it, or else use parchment paper) 
  • Paste food coloring
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife 

4 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
1/2-ounce nonfat dry milk, approximately 6 1/2 teaspoons

3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 3/4 ounces light corn syrup, approximately 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Paste Food Coloring {I currently own Wilton brand & used a little “Lemon Yellow” to make the yellow color, and a little of the “Lemon Yellow” plus “No-Taste Red” to make the orange} 

In a 2qt pan, combine the sugar, salt, corn syrup and water.  Heat over medium heat, covered, for 4 minutes.  Do not stir.

Remove the lid, add the Butter and clip on a candy thermometer.  Bring the mixture to just above 230 degrees F, which should take 1 to 2 minutes.  Do not stir.

When the mixture reaches the correct temperature, immediately remove from heat, add the vanilla extract & stir gently to combine.

Sift the Powdered Sugar and nonfat dry milk over the mixture & stir with a whisk to combine.  Switch to stirring with a silicone spatula once it becomes too difficult to use the whisk.

Pour onto a half sheet pan lined with a Silpat (silicone baking mat) or lined with parchment.  Cool the mixture until it is no longer too hot to handle with your hands (about 10 minutes).

Divide the dough into three pieces. Make one piece a bit larger and keep the two remaining pieces a bit smaller.  Keep one of the small pieces white.  Color the remaining small piece yellow by using a toothpick to add a small bit of the yellow paste to the sugar dough.  Knead until the paste color is consistant throughout.  Color the remaining larger piece orange, using a bit of red with yellow.

For the assembly process, I found that it was easier to work with smaller pieces of dough.  Divide the orange dough into at least 4 pieces.  Roll into a log shape, set aside.  Repeat with the yellow and the white dough, only make sure those pieces are smaller & more narrow than the orange.  Remember, the orange portion in commercial candy corn is the largest portion.

Once the three logs are done, gently press them together (white, orange, yellow).  Stretch slightly, if necessary.  Use a sharp knife to begin cutting the long piece into triangles.  Yes, some of the candy corns will be backwards, but they’ll still taste good (and probably no one will notice!). Hand shape each piece so that the angles are not as harsh and each piece is a bit more rounded.  Place the finished candy corn back onto the silicone mat to dry.  I like to let mine dry 24 hours.

Repeat until all the dough is used.  Or, if you run out of time, wrap each piece of white, orange, and yellow individually in plastic wrap and continue the assembly process later.

After the drying time, store the candy in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer

Pumpkin Variation
Form some of the orange dough into small balls (I made mine about 10g each).  Allow them to harden over night.

Take a little of the yellow dough and add a touch of green paste food coloring to it.  Use the green to make the stem pieces.  Allow them to harden over night.

Assembly by making a small divot in the top of the pumpkin and placing the green stems into the divot.

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