It's perfect for halloween, or any other time when sugar is needed.
I've found many recipes on the web, but they all seem to be the same, and do not have the necessary precision to ensure that soft candy corn, not rock candy, is created.
I'm not sure how long it keeps as it has never lasted more than a day or two before dissappearing.
Also, this is my first Instructable, so tell me anything you think I got wrong.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any injuries, damages to person or property, etc... that may come from boiling hot sugar and other possibly allergenic ingredients over a very hot surface. That being said, please be careful.
Step 1: Ingredients and Utensils
If you use the metric system, a tbsp is 15mL. 1tsp is 5 ml, 1/4 cup is 60 mL.
1/4 cup white cane sugar, not powdered
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered cane sugar
1/16 tsp or a large pinch of salt
1 tbsp powdered milk
food colours: red and yellow for traditionnal candy corn, or any colours you like.
Note on Ingredients:
Honey is not necessary; you can use corn syrup instead, but this will result in a slightly less candy-corn flavour.
However, do not leave out both the honey and corn syrup. They are necessary for making a dough, as well as for preventing crystallization.
I have not tried substituting butter with a vegan alternative, but if you don't want to use butter, a fat with a similar consistency, like coconut oil, should work fine, though it may affect the flavor.
The powdered sugar needs to be powdered. If it isn't, you will have a large sticky mess.
The salt is optional, but I find a pinch helps bring out the flavor.
Do not forget the powdered milk!!! I tried leaving it out once, and the result was disastrous. It needs to be powdered, not liquid. Sweetened condensed milk will work okay in a pinch, but, although the flavour will stay constant, the candy will be extremely soft and goey. This could possibly be remedied by raising the temperature 5F or so, but buying the powdered milk is well worth the effort. The only working substitute that I've found is soy protein powder. If you use it, you will still have a nice dough, but it will be thicker and have a soy-ish taste to it. It will also tend to be brittle.
2 roughly 8 inch (20cm) bowls. One is for mixing, the other for holding sticky utensils.
small, roughly 6 inch (15cm) pot
1/4 cup measuring cup
1tbsp measuring spoon
1/4 tsp measuring spoon
1/8 tsp or a clean finger
a wooden spoon, if possible one that doesn't taste of garlic or meat.
a cookie sheet, or any smooth surface
a flour sifter. This isn't crucial, but not using it will result in small clumps of milk and sugar in the candy.
a candy thermometer
If you do not have a candy thermometer, get one. A regular thermometer doesn't work at 250F and drop testing the sugar tends to be rather imprecise.
Before you even start measuring, please wash your hands. Do you really want dirt or ebolavirus in you candy corn?
Step 2: Measuring ingredients and cooking them
Make sure there is enough water in the botton of the pot to wet it entirely. Without some water, your sugar will burn.
Measure your cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, butter, and vanilla into the pot. When you measure the syrup and honey, don't worry about the bit that stays on the measuring spoon. You will have enough of the syrup and honey without scraping it.
For measuring the butter, the paper wrapping should have tablespoons marked on it, so cut it there, or just scoop it with the spoon.
Now that all your ingredients are together, stir them together a bit. This should result in a bit of a slush. Clip on the candy thermometer.
You'll need a burner slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan. Turn the flame to a high-medium-ish setting. The slush will become liquid quickly, so stir frequently and check the temperature constantly. If you smell burning or see any darker colouring, turn the heat down, stir a whole lot, and hope that the sugar's still fine.
The mixture will bubble a lot. This is normal. The colour should be a very light caramel, like in the picture.
It takes about 3 minutes for the sugar to reach 250F (120C), but don't rely on the time. Watch the thermometer intently as the temperature rises. As soon as it reaches 250F (not 250C) turn the stove off. If the sugar reached 255F, don't panic, you might be fine. If the sugar reached 275F, you're probably going to have to start over and pay better attention.
(edit): Note on the temperature: if you live at high altitude, you will need to adjust to 38F above the local boiling point of water. To find this, stick the thermometer in a pot of boiling water. Thanks to the commenters who reminded me of this.
Step 3: Making dough
1tbsp powdered milk
5/8cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
The milk and sugar shouldn't be light and fluffy in the spoon, but neither should they be packed down. Just reach the spoon into the container and leave it at that.
Stick the sifter directly on top of the pot so any powder sifted through will land on the sugar.
Pour these ingredients onto the sifter, and mash/twirl them through.
Remove the sifter, and stir. You will have a pale caramel dough. Stir until you have an even consistency without clumps.
Pour about 1/4 cup powdered sugar into whichever bowl doesn't have the measuring cups and candy thermometer.
With the spoon, pry the dough off the pot and into the bowl. coat the top of the dough with a thin layer of powdered sugar. If the dough isn't burning to the touch, knead it until it is firm enough to make as many balls as colors (usually 3. I made two sets of corn, so i hade 4 small balls and one large one.)
Divide the dough into the balls, and grab your food colours.
Step 4: Colouring and rolling
Poke a hole in each ball and squeeze a couple drops food color ( 3 or 4) into the hole. Now, knead the dough until the colouring is evenly distributed ( or nicely marbled.) Your hands will probably be a nice bright orange or whatever colours you decided to use.
Once you have your colored balls of dough, start rolling them out in your hands until they are about as long as the cookie sheet.
Stick the rolls together in whatever order you want, and squish and stretch them until you have a long rope of candy.
Step 5: Cutting and Finishing
Start cutting the ropes into cand-corn sized pieces with a medium, non-serrated knife.
Every other piece will have a white tip. If you want them all to have white tips, experiment with a bull's eye formation for cutting (small circle of white, surrounded by ropes of orange and yellow).
Keep cutting until you have only candy corn. By the time this step is halfway done, your hands will probably be a bit stiff. Take a break and eat some candy.
Step 6: Finishing
Admire and taste your hard work.
To ensure that it won't stick to the sheet, move the pieces around. Let them just sit there overnight. You don't need to, but this makes them lose a bit of moisture and harden a bit. Also, if you stuff them immediately in a bag, they will have a tendency to stick together.
If you leave them anywhere hot, they will melt and stick together.
I'm not sure how long these will last, but seeing as the butter in them should be refrigerated, I suggest not letting them sit at room temperature for more than a week. They can probably be refrigerated or frozen for several months, but they would most likely lose some of their flavor and freshness.