Even though he always had a passion for food, as an adult; "Alton spent a decade working as a cinematographer and video director, but realized that he spent all his time between shoots watching cooking shows, which he found to be dull and uninformative. Convinced that he could do better, Alton left the film business and moved to Vermont to train at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT. Soon after, Alton tapped all of his training to create Good Eats, a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture, and science with common cooking sense. Alton not only writes and produces the shows but also stars in each offbeat episode, which premiered in 1999 on Food Network...Good Eats was recognized as a Peabody Award winner in April of 2007, a distinguished prize presented for excellence in broadcast news, education and entertainment. Food Network airs the series approximately sixteen times each week. ...Alton appears regularly as the resident food historian, scientist and commentator on Food Network series Iron Chef America and is the host/judge on reality series Next Iron Chef in its fourth season in October 2011."
While enjoying our 'Good Eats' marathon last night, one of the episodes was on homemade Halloween candies and treats. One of his creations happened to be Candy Corn. This time of the year we see it everywhere, some like them, some can't stand them. I happened to be in the presence of a person who falls into the later category and she was happy to mention it. The humor in that came about 5 seconds later when Alton breaks in to acknowledge those who don't fancy Candy Corn and proceeds to explain the mass produced variety are made with corn starch and coated with a variation of wax that you use to give your car that deep, wonderful, shine. Not the most pleasant image of something many of us snack on by the handful. The homemade variety are an entirely different treat and absolutely worth making yourself. While I haven't personally made his version of Candy Corn, I have made them before and I can attest to the fact the homemade variety taste nothing like what you get at the grocery store.
So, how do you make your own Candy Corns you may ask? Well here is your answer. Below is not only the video from the 'Good Eats' episode showing the step by step directions to producing these seasonal treats, but also the recipe and directions in text form below. Try it out, they're worth the effort!
- 4 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
- 1/2-ounce nonfat dry milk, approximately 6 1/2 teaspoons
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
- 3 3/4 ounces light corn syrup, approximately 1/3 cup
- 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 drops yellow and orange gel paste food coloring
Combine the powdered sugar, dry milk and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2-quart pot. Put over medium heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Add the butter, clip on a candy thermometer, and bring the mixture to 230 degrees F, about 1 to 2 minutes. When the sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees F, take the pot off the heat and remove the thermometer. Add the vanilla and the dry mixture, stirring continuously with a silicone spatula until well combined. Pour onto a half sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat. Cool until the mixture is cool enough to handle, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Add 2 drops of yellow food coloring to 1 piece and knead the dough until the color is consistent throughout. Add 2 drops of orange to the second piece, and knead until the color is consistent throughout. Leave the third piece white. Roll each piece of dough into a strand, about 18-inches long. Cut each strand in half.
Roll 1 of the white pieces into a strand that is about 1/2-inch thick and about 22-inches long. Repeat with a yellow piece and orange piece. Lay the strands side by side and press them together using your fingers. Cut the strand into 4-inch pieces. Lay the strands, 1 at a time, onto the silicone mat and press into a wedge shape, like a triangle. Use a wire butter slicer to cut the candies into pieces. If you don't have a wire butter slicer, use a knife, metal bench scraper or pizza cutter to slice the dough into small pieces. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Lay the finished pieces on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to dry for 1 hour. Store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer.