Christmas Candy Corns

Merry Christmas!!

I’ve actually had this post idly waiting for today.  I wanted to post earlier, but it contains a Christmas present that wouldn’t be revealed until this morning.

Back in October I saw an Alton Brown special on making halloween candy – including candy corns – that piqued my interest.  Candy corns are a very polarizing candy in the same realm as orange slices, mike n’ ikes and sweedish fish, but my dad happens to stand in the pro-candy corn camp.  He also happens to be IM-possible to find a good Christmas present for.  And when I come across life’s seemingly insurmountable obstacles my natural defense mechanism is to feed it until it either goes away or becomes dormant.  So there you go – I give you Christmas Candy Corns!

Since candy corns are all sweetness, I like them best mixed with some salty add-ins.  My dad’s favorites are macadamia nuts and pretzels, hence the mix I have below but if you want to try this on your own you could definitely do the classic peanut-candy corn mix or use your own imagination to come up with other variations.  Maybe with roasted almonds and apricots or with pumpkin seeds and banana chips?  Go nuts!  Also, check out some of my head notes for tips I found helped make this process a little less temperamental.

Either way, I hope everyone out there is having a great Christmas!  By the time this post goes live I’ll hopefully be pulling some newly concocted apple pie scones out of the oven.  It’s a recipe I’ve been developing from scratch and this is my second attempt.  If this version works out I might have some new updates for 2011!

Candy Corns

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Notes (a few things you might want to know before getting in the kitchen)

  • There are three less common kitchen supplies you’ll need for this recipe:  a silicone baking mat, a candy thermometer and a silicone spatula.
  • Gel food coloring is a very concentrated source of food coloring.  You can find it in the baking aisle of your grocery store and depending on the volume of “stuff” you’re coloring you typically only add it in a toothpick dip at a time until you reach the color you want.
  • When cooking sugar I always give the same two tips:  stir constantly and use a long handled spoon.  Boiling sugar = crazy hottness and it has the ability (if it feels so inclined) to jump out of the pan at you.
  • When it came time to handle the candy dough I kept a small saucer of canola oil handy to rub into my hands (just a dab at a time).  It helps to keep the sugar from sticking to  your fingers as you work with it.
  • I also laid out a few feet of wax paper on my countertop as a holding spot for my strands of candy.  This frees up your silicone mat as a workspace.  The candy strands should roll off the wax paper, but if they start to get stuck gently hold onto one of the strands and you can peel the wax paper off of it from underneath.
  • If your candy corns don’t come out looking just right, that’s ok.  Just pinch them into submission.  Or tell people you like that “homemade look”.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups (4 ½ oz) powdered sugar
  • 6½ tsp (½ oz) nonfat dry milk
  • ¼ kosher salt
  • ½ cup (3½ oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (3¾ oz) light corn syrup
  • 2½ Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring of your desired colors

Directions

  1. Combine the powdered sugar, dry milk and salt in a food processor and pulse 4-5 times until well combined.  Set aside.
  2. Combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2 qt pot, put over medium heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes.  Add the butter, clip on your candy thermometer and cook until 230°F.
  3. When mixture reaches 230°F immediately remove from heat, take out thermometer and add in the vanilla and dry mixture from earlier, stirring consistently with silicon spatula until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture onto silicone baking mat and allow to cool, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Once dough is cool enough to handle, divide into three equal parts.  Color each of the three sections by adding 1-2 drops of the food coloring in at a time and kneading it into the dough until it is evenly colored.  Do nothing with the third section if you wish to keep one white.
  6. Next, further divide each section in half and roll each into a long strand until it’s about ½-inch thick (about 22-inches long) and set to side.  Once you have all 6 of your strands rolled out (2 of each color), lay three different colored strands side by side and gently press together using your fingertips.  Then, cut the tri-color strand into 4″ sections using a pizza cutter or knife.  Fold part of the silicone mat over your strand and use it to help gently press the candy into a wedge shape (think:  sidewalk ramp).  Last, use your cutter to cut the strand into ~¼-inch pieces.
  7. Lay out to dry on silicone mat for 1+ hours and store in airtight container.

Hey look!  You just made candy corn!  Bravo!

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