It’s no secret that candy corn is one of the most well-known Halloween treats. According to the National Confectioners’ Association (NCA), 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year, or 9 billion kernels. That’s a lot of candy corn! Surprisingly, making homemade candy corn is easy! This homemade candy corn recipe creates bright and chewy kernels, perfect for any ghost or goblin to enjoy on their trick-or-treating adventures.
Love it or Hate It
Personally, I’ve never been a big candy corn fan. People either love it or hate it. The waxy texture wasn’t appealing to me and the over the top amount of sugar seemed a little too much for a piece of candy. On the other hand, some people love the sugary kernels and can’t get enough of it! The tricolors and waxy shine lead to people eating kernel after kernel (or handful after handful) of this pure sugar confection.
While surfing social media, I saw Alton Brown had created a candy corn recipe. I knew this was the one thing I would make during Halloween season. Even if it was the day after Halloween! My loved ones are slightly addicted to candy corn, so I figured I would give it a try. It has to be better than what comes in the bag!
Tackling homemade candy corn is a challenge for candy making 101. There can be a fine line with the temperature that’ll either result in nailing or failing the ideal texture!
I posted Alton’s recipe on Facebook and within a few minutes, I got a comment that says, "sounds good, but there isn’t any real honey in the ingredient list." The next comment said, "no honey, no candy corn…#standards." Challenge accepted!
Alton used corn syrup instead of honey in his recipe, so for my version of candy corn I ended up using a blend of light corn syrup and honey. You’ll read more about my trial and errors below, but I ended up creating the delicious, sweet homemade candy corn with the exact texture it's known for.
- Powdered Sugar
- Nonfat Dry Milk
- Light Corn Syrup
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Food Coloring
Trial and Error
It took a few batches to get this to work. I started out by replacing all the light corn syrup with honey. Two issues with this. The candy was just like I dipped my finger into the honey jar and grabbed a big lick. It had no resemblance to candy corn flavor, and it was a sticky mess that was almost impossible to roll out. Then once rolled out, it slowly started to spread. So instead of little triangles of candy corn, we had soft gooey messes.
The second batch, I went with a blend of light corn syrup and honey. The flavor was perfect! But still a sticky mess. I will say almost all of them were eaten. Even if they were ugly, they were tasty.
I was left wondering a few things.
- The original recipe called for the sugar syrup to be cooked to 230°, which I was doing. Was my thermometer off a few degrees?
- I had just opened a brand new bag of organic confectioners sugar. Is there something different with this compared to non organic?
- Did the honey change the way the sugar reacted once hardening?
So I started with the easiest to determine. Checked the thermometer. Spot on.
Then I did a little bit of research on organic confectioners sugar. And not too much out there on the web about the way it behaves compared to non organic sugar.
Perfect Candy Texture
After that research, I decided to change the cooking temperature of the sugar syrup. I bumped it up to 242° and it worked. Amazing what 12° can do when you are talking about sugar. This left me with candy that was still a tiny bit soft. You could now hold it, move it, and shape it. So there you have it!
Thanks Alton Brown for the inspiration and my new addiction to candy corn! You can bet I will be making these at Christmas time, with red, white and green. With just a tiny change in color it can easily become reindeer corn for your Christmas snacks.
Candy Corn was invented in the 1880s by a Philidephia candymaker, Georg Renninger. The recipe was bought by Goelitz Confectionary Company, now the Jelly Belly Candy Company, and has been producing it since 1898.
When Candy Corn was first produced lack of automated machinery meant it was only made seasonally. Production would start in late August and continue through the fall. It remained unchanged for over 100 years and became a Halloween favorite.
Today candy makers have made Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter themed candy corn. More flavors of have also been introduced such as peppermint and pumpkin spice.
In a poll by the NCA, candy corn ranks second on the favorite Halloween candy list at 13%. What’s number one? Chocolate rules the favorite Halloween candy poll at 70%. Chewy and gummy candy make up the remaining third and fourth favorite Halloween candies.
People eat the kernel pieces in a variety of ways. In a survey by the NCA:
42.7% of people start with the narrow white end.
46.8% of people eat the whole piece at once.
10.6% of people start with the wider yellow end.
For more fun facts about Candy Corn check out this article!
What about you? Do you love or hate candy corn? If you love it, what way do you like to eat it? I’d love to hear what you think! Give this recipe a try and let us know how it goes.
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- 4 ½ ounces confectioner's sugar
- ½ ounce nonfat dry milk
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ½ ounces granulated sugar
- 2 ½ ounces light corn syrup
- 1 ¼ ounces honey
- 2 ½ tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 or 3 drops each of yellow and orange gel paste food coloring
- Combine the confectioners sugar, dry milk and salt in a food processor.
- Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.
- Combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, honey and water in a 2 quart pot. Place over medium heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes.
- Add the butter, and bring the sugar syrup to 242° F, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the vanilla and the dry mixture and stir continuously with a silicone spatula until well combined.
- Pour onto a half sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Cool for 20 minutes, until the mixture is cool enough to handle.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Add 2 or 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one piece and knead until the color is worked throughout.
- Add 2 to 3 drops of the orange food coloring to the second piece and knead until the color is worked throughout.
- Leave the third piece white.
- Cut each color of dough into thirds.
- Roll each piece of dough into a strand about 22 inches long. Lay the strands side by side (yellow, orange, then white) and press them together using your fingers. Cut off the uneven ends, then using a bench scraper or ruler, press each piece into a wedge, keeping the yellow section wide and making the white part come to a tip.
- Use a bench scraper, pizza cutter or knife, to cut each wedge into individual candies.
- Lay the candies on a piece of parchment until dry. At least 2 hours.
- Store in an airtight container with parchment between each layer.
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