Candy corn is one of the simple pleasures of Halloween.
These white, yellow and orange striped candies have been around since the 1880s when George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Co., invented them. In 1900, the Goelitz Candy Co. began producing them. Today that company is known as the Jelly Belly Candy Co., and it's still producing candy corn.
Originally it was made only March to November with fall being the big candy season. A combination of sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients, including fondant and marshmallow, was mixed and placed into "runners," or buckets that weighed 45 pounds when filled. Men called "stringers" then walked backward, pouring the mixture into trays of cornstarch imprinted with the kernel shapes. It took pours from three different buckets containing different colored slurries to make the tri-colored candies. While the recipe remains much the same, today the pouring is done by machine.
Of course, you can enjoy candy corn by the handful. But we came up with 10 fun ways to celebrate - and enjoy - this seasonal treat.
1. Make a popcorn cake decorated with candy corn. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Pop 1/3 cup kernels to make 20 cups popcorn; be sure to throw out all the unpopped kernels. Butter a 17- by 12- by 2-inch baking or roasting pan and a 10-inch tube pan. Set the tube pan aside. Place the popcorn in the baking pan and place it in the oven to keep it warm.
Combine 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large saucepan; stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until boiling. Stir in a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour marshmallow mixture over hot popcorn and toss with wooden spoon until coated evenly. Cool until mixture can be handled easily. Use wooden spoon to stir 1 1/2 cups candy corn into the popcorn mixture.
Put popcorn mixture in tube pan using damp hands to press mixture gently into pan. Let stand 30 minutes. Turn out of pan using a table knife to loosen cake from side of pan if necessary. Slice cake to serve. Makes about 16 servings.
2. Around the holiday, fill your sugar bowl with candy corn. Use spoonfuls of the colorful candies to sweeten your coffee, tea or other hot drinks in a festive way. The sugary candies will dissolve in the hot liquid.
3. Make ice cream sandwiches perfect for Halloween by garnishing their creamy edges with candy corn. Purchase ready-made ice cream sandwiches and roll their ice cream edges in a plateful of the corn. Or make your own. Spoon your favorite flavor of softened ice cream onto the flat side of a soft sugar cookie (or to make them particularly pretty, try a chocolate cookie). Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the ice cream. Roll the ice cream side in candy corn. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and freeze at least 6 hours until firm. Let stand about 10 minutes before eating.
4. Make a jack-o-lantern sundae using candy corn. Put a big scoop of orange, mango or other orange-colored sherbet or ice cream in a bowl. Top with an inverted green ice cream cone to make the pumpkin stem and top leaves. Then make a face on the orange "pumpkin" using candy corn for eyes, nose and scraggly teeth.
5. The orange and yellow of the candy corn looks great against brown (chocolate), so use them as decoration on the chocolate icing atop a cake, cupcakes or brownies.
6. For an easy baked apple dessert, core and slice an apple and place the wedges in a 5-inch ramekin. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, dot with butter and add about a dozen pieces of candy corn. Then bake in a 350-degree oven about 30 minutes until the apples are tender and the candy melts into a flavorful sauce. Let it cool a few minutes before eating as the sugary sauce gets very hot. You'll be surprised at the great flavor. You can substitute a pear for the apple, if you prefer.
7. Make a seasonal party mix by combining 4 cups Wheat Chex cereal and 1/3 cup melted butter. Toss to coat. Add 1 cup raisins, 1 cup candy corn and 1 (12-ounce) jar dry-roasted peanuts. Toss to mix. Store in an airtight container. It's a great snack to enjoy while watching a scary movie.
8. Bake an apple pie. We used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate. We peeled, cored and sliced 6 baking apples to which we added 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch salt. Then we added 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 1/4 cups candy corn, tossing to mix. We heaped it all in the pie shell and covered it with the top crust, fluting the edge and cutting a few gashes in the top to allow steam to escape. We put it all on a baking sheet and baked it in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, reduced the heat to 350 degrees and continued baking 40 to 50 minutes until golden and the apples were tender. Makes 8 servings.
9. Create frozen pops that resemble candy corn. Start with a light-colored juice such as white grape juice. Fill the frozen pop molds (or you can use 3-ounce paper cups and wooden sticks) about 1/4 full. Let freeze until solid. Then add a reddish orange-colored fruit juice; we used equal parts apricot mixed with guava. Fill mold about two thirds full. Freeze until solid. Then add a yellow layer such as pineapple. Cover with the mold tops/sticks (or cover cup with foil and insert stick through foil into center of cup). Freeze until solid. Unmold, and your pops look like candy corn.
10. Make adorable candy corn cookies. Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe, roll it out, cut the dough with about a 1 1/2-inch triangular cookie cutter and bake according to recipe instructions. Let cool. Then using a fondant rolling pin, roll out yellow fondant on parchment paper until it is 1/8-inch thick. Cut the fondant into 1/2-inch-thick strips and set aside. Repeat with white and orange fondants. Place the strips of fondant side-by-side on the parchment and roll with a fondant rolling pin until the strips become one piece of fondant. Cut out a candy corn shape from the fondant sheet with your triangular cookie cutter. Use a paintbrush to dab light corn syrup on the top of your baked cookies. Carefully place fondant sheets on the cookies, smoothing the edges with a dry finger. Let dry at least 1 hour or until the fondant hardens.
SOURCES: Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cook Book (Meredith, 2004), The Flour Pot Cookie Book (Running Press, 2006)
Candy corn muffins
24 small or 12 large muffins
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup skim milk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
12 or 24 pieces candy corn
- Spray 12 large muffin cups or 24 small muffin cups in muffin tins with a no-stick cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate, smaller bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg until fluffy. Add sugar, milk and applesauce, mixing thoroughly. Slowly incorporate milk mixture into flour mixture, beating with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
- Fill the prepared muffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Remove tin(s) and lightly press one candy corn into the top of each muffin. Allow to cool 10 minutes and serve muffins while still warm.