The following 101, on making homemade candy corn, comes from the HOMEGROWN Life contributor Michelle Wire, a Pennsylvania homesteading mama and the voice behind the awesome Dust and Wanderlust. Don’t miss her original blog post for more Halloween crafts for kids, including her adorable jar-o’-lanterns. Thanks so much, Michelle, and please keep the candy factory bubbling!
Cool nights, noises in the shadows, leaves rustling in the evening air: As a child, my biggest thrill (and terror) was traipsing from house to house on Halloween night, waiting for the bigger kids in the neighborhood to jump out and scare the candy corn out of us. They rarely did, but the fear of it was enough to infuse my whole night with a sense of mystery and excitement.
Years later, Halloween is our household’s favorite holiday, hands down. And this year I even found a recipe for my beloved candy corn. I was looking for a version without beeswax because, frankly, unless you’re a beekeeper, it can be a tough ingredient to find. (If you are a beekeeper, there are plenty of recipes online.) This approach is very simple, and although it takes a while to cool, it’s well worth the wait and it’s fun to prepare—not to mention the money it could save me, considering how much candy corn I buy and stash all year round!
» 1 cup sugar
» 5 Tbsp butter
» 1 tsp vanilla extract (if you’re feeling ambitions, you can make your own with a HOMEGROWN 101)
» 2 cups powdered sugar
» 1/3 cup powdered milk
» 1/4 tsp salt
» red and yellow food coloring (courtesy of The Kitchn, red substitutes for the commercial stuff include steeped hibiscus flowers, boiled cranberries, beet juice or powder, and pomegranate juice; for the yellow, try annatto or very small amounts of saffron or turmeric)
WHAT TO DO
1. Mix the sugar, syrup, and butter together in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once everything is dissolved into a homogenous mixture, turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and let simmer 5 minutes, tops. Be precise: This is candy.
3. While waiting for the mixture to cool, sift together the powdered sugar, powdered milk, and salt in a large bowl. Once the sugar mixture is just cool enough to handle, add it to the powdered sugar. Knead the dough with your hands to incorporate as much of the powdered sugar as you can. Don’t worry if there’s a little powdered sugar left unmixed.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it into a large log. Divide it into three sections. Press divots into two of the dough pieces. Drop 12 or more drops of yellow coloring into each divot. Drop 6 red drops into just one of the divots (red + yellow = orange). Knead the color into the dough, kneading the yellow section first so as not to cross-contaminate. You can use your bare hands or gloves, if you’d like, although the color should wash out after a few hand-washings. Make sure the color is completely solid and mixed in, not marbleized.
5. Once the colors are incorporated, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure you don’t get orange dye on the yellow dough. Start with the white dough. Cut about one-fifth of the dough and roll it out into a long worm. Do the same with the yellow dough then the red dough.
6. Press the three worms together firmly without distorting the shape. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into triangles. Set aside and allow to dry as you repeat steps five and six with the remaining dough. Here’s the hard part: waiting for the candy to set before eating. Good luck and happy haunting!
Got a question for Michelle? Or another Halloween craft to share? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling. If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, don’t miss Jackie’s 101s on apple cider caramels and apple molasses. You might also be interested in Black Cat Cottage’s Homemade Extracts 101 (think vanilla), Sabrina’s Homemade Coffee Liqueur 101 (think Kahlúa), and Christa’s Maple Tapping and Maple Syrup Making 101. If you're on the prowl for more fall projects, check out the Book-Page Pumpkin 101, the Scarecrow 101, and the Honey Sticks 101. You can always find more things to make, craft, cook, preserve, plant, grow, and sweeten in the HOMEGROWN 101 Library.
ALL PHOTOS: MICHELLE WIRE