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Homemade Candy Corn Recipe

homemade candy corn

October 30th is National Candy Corn Day. Yup, the most-beloved (or most hated, depending on which side you're on) Halloween candy actually has a whole day devoted to it. 

According to history, candy corn was invented in the late 1800s, and was originally called "Chicken Feed", in the hopes it would appeal the the more than half the country's population that was involved in agriculture at that time in some way, shape or form.


Since chickens for the most part ate corn back then, and as a general rule people didn't, the name made a lot of sense since the candy was designed to look like kernels of corn. The original packaging even  featured a rooster on it.

Clearly, the gambit worked and here we are, more than 100 years later, still trying to figure out if we love (or hate) this neon-colored sweet treat this doesn't seem like it's actually even edible.

homemade candy corn

Supposedly candy corn will stay good for about 9 months unopened, but I'm thinking the actual shelf life is far longer than that...

A joke comedian Lewis Black famously told is that despite 9 billion pieces sold each year in the US, all the candy corn ever made was made in 1911 because retailers just collect and resell the same kernels year after year. No one actually eats it, do they?

Side note: apparently people DO eat and enjoy it. In fact, according to a recent poll by ABC, candy corn is the favorite Halloween candy in Michigan and appears in the top ten favorites each year nationwide. However, it also does appear on a few worst Halloween candy lists as well! 

But regardless, accepting a challenge from a friend, I set out to see if I could make my own homemade candy corn this year. Challenge accepted! 

Turns out, it's actually pretty easy (and fun!) to make. And it also tastes better way than store bought (no surprise there, because I flavored each color stripe with a corresponding extract), although I'm not sure it's any more healthy!

My first batch, I used plant-based food coloring and just couldn't achieve the bright, vibrant, artificial color that is the candy's trademark, so figuring it's hardly a healthy food anyway, I went all in on the second batch and used regular food coloring gel paste and voila! Homemade candy corn! 

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe and also a variation to make Neopolitan candy corn)

homemade candy corn


Homemade Candy Corn

1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

5 Tablespoons powdered milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

5 Tablespoons butter

Red and yellow food coloring

Almond, lemon and orange extract

Whisk the confectioners sugar and powdered milk in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  

In a heavy saucepan or small pot, bring the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter to a boil, stirring to melt the butter, and then heat to 245-250 degrees F without stirring. Once the sugar mixture reaches temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar mixture. 

Turn the dough out onto a silpat sheet or parchment paper and divide into three equal sections. With a rubber spatula or your hands (the dough will still be pretty warm!), fold in the yellow food coloring into two pieces of the dough, and then red into one to make orange. 

You'll now have three balls: one white, one orange and one yellow. Fold in a few drops of almond extract into the white ball, lemon extract into the yellow ball and orange extract into the orange ball.

Divide each colored ball into three or four even pieces, and working with one piece of each color, cover the remaining dough you're not using with a damp kitchen towel. Roll each piece of dough into a thin rope, about 1/4" thick.  

Line up the three ropes side by side, yellow on the bottom, orange in the middle, and white on the top. Pinch the ropes together (wet the sides with warm water if necessary to get them to stick together), then roll them with a rolling pin to flatten then into one tri-color strip.

Using a sharp knife, cut the strip into individual candies, angling the blade with each cut. Half of your candy corn will have the colors in the wrong order (i.e., the white will be on the bottom, etc.) but I doubt anyone will notice - or care.

Let the candies dry on the silpat sheet over night and then store in a covered container.

Note: the dough will dry out fairly quickly and be impossible to roll. You can zap it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds to heat it up so you can mold it or set it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to keep it warm.

This is a great Halloween project to do with kids, but since you are working with boiling sugar, it might be best to let little kids "play" with the dough once it's cooled and not have them actually be involved in the making of the candies which requires molding very warm dough.

Watch as I make Candy Corn on WSAZ/Huntington West Virginia

Make the Dough

Color and Flavor the Dough




Shape the Dough











Cut your Candy Corn








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Variation: Neopolitan Candy Corn

I had so much fun making the original candy corn, I decided to make a neopolitan variation. Using the instructions above, I left one third of the dough plain colored but flavored it with vanilla extract, I added cocoa powder to one-third of the dough, and colored one-third of the dough pinkish-purple and flavored it with raspberry extract.

I have to say that I much prefer this version, which would be perfect for Christmas, Valentine's Day or any old time! 





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Homemade Candy Corn
Print

Homemade Candy Corn

Yield: About 50 candies
Author: Lisa Steele | Fresh Eggs Daily
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 5 MinTotal time:30 Min
Make your own homemade candy corn this Halloween!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • Almond, lemon and orange extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk the confectioners sugar and powdered milk in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan or small pot, bring the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter to a boil, stirring to melt the butter, and then heat to 245-250 degrees F without stirring. Once the sugar mixture reaches temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar mixture.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a silpat sheet or parchment paper and divide into three equal sections. With a rubber spatula or your hands (the dough will still be pretty warm!), fold in the yellow food coloring into two pieces of the dough, and then red into one to make orange.
  4. You'll now have three balls: one white, one orange and one yellow. Fold in a few drops of almond extract into the white ball, lemon extract into the yellow ball and orange extract into the orange ball.
  5. Divide each colored ball into three or four even pieces, and working with one piece of each color, cover the remaining dough you're not using with a damp kitchen towel. Roll each piece of dough into a thin rope, about 1/4" thick.
  6. Line up the three ropes side by side, yellow on the bottom, orange in the middle, and white on the top. Pinch the ropes together (wet the sides with warm water if necessary to get them to stick together), then roll them with a rolling pin to flatten then into one tri-color strip.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut the strip into individual candies, angling the blade with each cut. Half of your candy corn will have the colors in the wrong order (i.e., the white will be on the bottom, etc.) but I doubt anyone will notice - or care.
  8. Let the candies dry on the silpat sheet over night and then store in a covered container.
  9. Note: the dough will dry out fairly quickly and be impossible to roll. You can zap it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds to heat it up so you can mold it or set it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to keep it warm.
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