the appetizer:

Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar by Gesine Bullock-Prado, includes recipes like Rock Candy; Candy Corn; and The Sugar, Baby! (Caramel Lollipops).


Candy Corn

Makes 2-1/2 pounds (1.2 kg), approximately 400 small pieces, or 12 large cobs.

Candy Corn


My favorite Halloween costume was a death trap: seven feet of chicken wire slathered in papier mache, festooned in flammable white, orange, and yellow oil paint, made mobile with four shimmying grocery cart wheels, and equipped with a sticky trap door for candy deposits. I was the envy of every kid at Woodmont Elementary. I was the biggest candy corn on earth.

Sadly, there was no ventilation, it tipped whenever I tried to negotiate a curb, and the built-in mesh window was inches too low for my gangly frame. But I was happy to withstand any discomfort for a giant candy corn, even if it wasn't edible. Luckily, I usually got a few pounds of the real stuff deposited into the bucket attached precariously to the inside of the costume. Today, I bypass trick-or-treating and death-trap costumes and simply make my favorite ghoulish treat at home.

Confectioners' sugar  3-1/2 cups  350 g
Powdered milk  1/2 cup  65 g
Salt  1/2 teaspoon  3 g
Granulated sugar  1-1/2 cups  300 g
Corn syrup  1 cup  240 ml
Unsalted butter  1/2 cup  115 g
Glycerin  1 teaspoon  5 ml
Yellow food coloring  2 drops
Orange food coloring  2 drops

1. In a food processor, blend the confectioners' sugar, powdered milk, and salt until they form a very fine powder. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup, butter, and glycerin. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

3. Lower the heat to medium. Attach a candy thermometer and allow the mixture to simmer undisturbed for 5 minutes, until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F (116 degrees C).

4. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, pour in the confectioners' sugar mixture until a paste forms. Allow to cool completely.

5. Divide the dough into 3 even pieces. Knead 2 drops of yellow dye into one piece and 2 drops of orange dye into a second piece. Leave the third piece white.

6. If you're going for the traditional tri-color look, divide each color of dough in half, roll each half into a rough rope approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long, and place one of each color rope on a long piece of plastic wrap. Line up the pieces, white then orange then yellow, next to each other on the wrap. Gently squeeze them together so they adhere to each other, and press down the length of the rope so you've got a very long, thin rectangle. Do the same with the second ropes. With a sharp knife, cut the ropes into about 400 small triangles. Using an offset spatula, place the triangles on a parchment-lined sheet pan approximately 1/2 inch (12 mm) apart. Allow to dry, uncovered, in a cool, dry place for a few hours.

7. I prefer to go against the grain and use vintage cast-iron cornbread molds in the shape of real corn, because the bigger the candy corn, the better. If you'd like to go this route, spray twelve molds with nonstick cooking spray. Take a piece of white dough and press it into the top of a mold. Place some orange dough in the middle and press it so it abuts against the white very snugly. Then add yellow dough to the bottom and press until the orange snuggles up to the yellow. Continue with the remaining molds and cover with plastic wrap. Give each "corn" another good press on top of the plastic wrap to ensure that the individual colored pieces are fused together and that the candy fills every nook of the mold. Allow to set for 1 hour. Gently turn the mold upside down to release the candy and allow to air-dry in a cool, dry place overnight. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week.


W A R N I N G !

You'll notice it's starting to get hot in here. The sugar, that is. I'm not going to lie: The stuff burns like a Mother Hubbard.

Take the time when I was poking hot caramel, for instance. You know how they tell you not to pester tigers in a cage? Well, don't pester hot caramel on a stove.

I had made caramel in my favorite saucepan. I'd let it go hard in my favorite saucepan. And then I decided that I really needed to use that particular saucepan and no other saucepan for something else entirely. I decided to put the caramel on low heat to soften it up so I could get it out of my favorite saucepan and store it in another container. I kept the caramel on low heat—I didn't want to burn it. Every once in a while I'd go poke at the caramel to see if it had softened. Poke.

Still hard. Poke. Still hard. Poke. Still hard. Poke. Molten, soft caramel and my hand is right in the middle of it. My paw was coated in what I've since decided was over 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) caramel, and instantaneously I couldn't care less about getting to my favorite saucepan—I just wanted to stop the excruciating pain caused by delicious caramel. And like any idiot, I had the reflex to wipe my hand on the back of my shirt to get the sticky, blistering candy glove off—and instead of fabric I hit skin. So now I had a scalding substance on my hand and my back. Brilliant.

This is just a very long way of telling you to be careful.

Boiling water is hot. Sugar gets even hotter. So when I say things over and over like "pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl with the mixer on medium speed," I'm reminding you to be careful. When you're whipping something and simultaneously pouring sugar into the mix, slow the mixer down so that searing-hot blobs of pain don't fly all over your kitchen. Pour the sugar down the side of the bowl so the fiery syrup doesn't scorch the ingredients inside it. And above all:



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This page created September 2011