Truth be told, I really don’t like candy corn all that much. Or, certainly not enough to warrant spending several hours making it from scratch. And, yet, that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you about.
Stay with me, here.
This is where things get good. And, where I admit that I made the candy corn simply because wanted a reason to tell you about this photo:
It may not be immediately apparent, but in this photo, my sister is dressed like Belgium. Yes, Belgium. Just go with it. You can tell on account of the Fleur-de-lis that adorns her dress (I don’t buy it, either).
I’m America. You can tell because I’m wearing gingham. And, because of my really, really big hair which is barely contained by the puritan style bonnet.
There’s a long and complicated story behind the costumes, but essentially, what you need to know is this: my mother and aunt went to a sleep-away camp when they were growing up in the 1960s. These costumes are from those days. My mother kept them and, every year, my sister and I would get excited to break them out for the holiday.
The year before we were Iran and Iraq. Those costumes consisted of big pants, bikini-style tops and head scarves. As I write that it occurs to me that it must have been a mild fall on the east coast that year. Also: that, evidently, there was no such thing as political correctness in the 1960s.
It was only years later that it occurred to me that dressing up like a country wasn’t a typical Halloween costume and was, frankly, a little weird. The tip-off came from old photos of the Countrywood Elementary School Halloween parade. All of us kids would come to school dressed up in our costumes and parade around the parking lot so our parents could admire us. There I am in all of the pictures, flanked by my classmates who are dressed as pumpkins and princesses. I’m in my gingham dress with my Puritan bonnet. I can only imagine what the other adults must have thought when I told them I was America. I was such a happy-go-lucky (translation: “lacking in total common sense and unaware of social cues”) child, that it didn’t even occur to me that it was odd at the time. Of course, I found the photos during my too cool for everything early teen phase. So, in the interest full disclosure, this is now one of those stories that I tell every Halloween. And, as I slowly overcome my adult aversion to dressing up, I’m considering investing in a new gingham dress.
When I called my sister to ask her if I could share the photo with all you, she had one stipulation: You can post it, but only if you also mention the year that our mother paid us so that we didn’t have to go trick-or-treating. Of course, that’s a whole different story for a different time.
For now, enjoy this candy, and have a happy Halloween!
Recipe courtesy of Serious Eats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup salted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 tsp vanilla
red and yellow food coloring
In a medium sized bowl, combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk. Set to the side.
In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk mixture to the wet ingredients; stir well until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
Let the dough cool until it is firm enough to handle, about 30 minutes to an hour.
Divide the dough into three equal parts and set each third into a separate bowl. Add 2 to 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one dish, one drop of red and two drops of yellow to another dish, and leave the remaining dish uncolored. Knead the dough to which you have added food coloring until the color is even, using gloves (I used sandwich bags. Which looked ridiclous, but did the trick). If the dough is feeling very soft or sticky, you may want to chill the dough for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator before proceeding with the next steps.
On top of a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper, use your hands to roll each color of dough into a long, slender rope. You can roll it out to your desired thickness: for larger candies, make each rope thicker; for smaller candies, make each rope thinner.
Line the three ropes of dough together: white, orange, and yellow. To ensure that they will stick together, lay a piece of waxed paper on top and give them a very gentle rolling with a rolling pin. You just want to adhere them, not to flatten them.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into triangles. Keep a damp cloth nearby so that you can wipe off the knife if it begins to get a candy residue. This method will result in half a batch of traditionally colored candy corn and half a batch with yellow tips. Let the finished kernels sit for an hour or two (do not stack them on top of one another as they will stick together!) to become firm.
Makes enough to give you plenty of cavities