Halloween is quite possibly my favorite time of the year, but one thing always puts a damper on the holiday spirit, and that is the great candy corn debate. The nation is so divided over whether candy corn is the greatest thing since sliced bread or an absolute abomination. Personally, I am writing as an avid hater of candy corn. I think only serial killers eat candy corn, and why a person would choose candy corn over literally any other candy that’s on sale at Walgreens is beyond me. But, in an ironic yet unsurprising turn of events, it’s become my civic duty to teach candy corn haters how to warm up to the stuff. Turns out, there are ways of incorporating candy corn (and candy corn flavors) into baked goods and cocktails—and marrying candy corn with other flavors doesn’t taste so bad after all. So keep an open mind, and together we’ll go on the journey to actually liking candy corn…maybe.
Let’s start with what candy corn actually is—since, you know, the best way to get over hating candy corn is to just dive headfirst into all things candy corn. In the 1880s, a man named George Renninger said, “how can I enhance Halloween for 50 percent of people and ruin it entirely for the other 50 percent,” and invented candy corn. Because it was multicolored and sweet (standards for candy were low back then, guys), Americans fell in love with the stuff and candy corn was being mass produced in factories by 1900. Back then, candy corn was essentially sugar and corn syrup cooked in a huge kettle. Fondant and marshmallow were added for texture. So imagine candy corn even sweeter than it is today. Yikes.
Anyway, today’s process is pretty similar, but we’ve gotten a little more creative with the ingredients. Candy corn is still mostly sugar and corn syrup, but in addition, you’ll also find salt, honey, confectioner’s glaze for that shiny wax coating, dextrose (which is also just sugar), sesame oil, and gelatin for that particular texture. Don’t forget: because nothing is naturally that yellow and orange, artificial colors are one of the standout ingredients of candy corn.
I realize thus far I haven’t convinced anyone to like candy corn. I mean, I basically just told you candy corn is nothing more than a little triangle of sugar. But, that actually makes it a lot easier for anyone who may not like candy corn to start incorporating it into other foods. Allow me to give you a few pointers.
Start Incorporating Sweeter Flavors into the Stuff you Know and Love
They say slow and steady wins the race, so a gradual introduction into candy corn’s ingredients may actually warm you up to the idea of (gasp!) eating candy corn. Since candy corn is mostly sugar and honey, start getting into sweeter recipes.
- Try an extra sweet cake
Who doesn’t love cake? The recipe for this adorable orange, yellow, and white cake doesn’t have one single piece of candy corn in it, and yet it manages to echo the candy corn flavor. How, you may ask? Well, this cake is super sweet. From the loads of sugar and buttercream frosting to the vanilla, this cake is essentially a fluffy candy corn. This is a really safe way for candy corn haters to start easing their way into the flavor of it; get used to the sweetness before you start eating candy corn by the handful.
- Take a more interesting shot
Yup, you can get used to the candy corn flavor one shot at a time. I bet you’re intrigued now. While a traditional Jell-O shot is just Jell-O and vodka, this recipe for candy corn Jell-O shots ups the ante in a couple different ways. First of all, it’s layered white, orange, and yellow to look like a candy corn (presentation is half the battle). But, more importantly, it’s about 10 times sweeter than a regular old Jell-O shot. And most of the sweetening agents in this recipe are also present in candy corn. First of all, the sugar in the Jello and the vanilla vodka mimics the candy corn in flavor, and the gelatin and condensed milk mimic the candy corn in texture. Even I think this is worth a shot.
- Fudge it up a little
Fudge is naturally one of the sweetest desserts on the planet; similarly to candy corn, it’s something you can only enjoy in small doses. Aside from a ton of white chocolate, the sweetening agents for this tricolored Halloween fudge are honey and sugar. Sound familiar? That’s what makes candy corn so sweet!
Make Candy Corn a Secondary Ingredient
Okay, so you’re a little more used to the flavors. Now it’s time to actually include real candy corn in your favorite recipes. I know that’s a scary concept, so here’s an idea: Take it slow by avoiding making candy corn the star of the dish. Use it as an add-in, or just a fun way to make a sweeter dessert. You’ll see what I mean.
- Two at a time
You can handle eating two or three little candy corns, right? You’ll absolutely be able to if you try this recipe for a sugar cookie with candy corns baked in. You’ll be so distracted by the amazing flavor of this cookie that you’ll almost forget that you’re doing the unthinkable by eating candy corn. The candy corn flavors will be a mere afterthought.
- Chocolate first, candy corn second
This recipe is like 90 percent chocolate, 10 percent candy corn—and I like this ratio. While candy corn is definitely present in this chocolate chip cake, it’s just a garnish to add a different texture. Plus, have I mentioned this is a chocolate cake? Totally doable.
- Ball it up
This peanut butter truffle incorporates candy corn pieces inside both for texture and for a little added sweetness. Since peanut butter is a very strong flavor, you won’t have to worry about being overwhelmed with the taste of candy corn just yet.
Make Candy Corn the Star of the Show, but Balance it Out
You’ve made it through candy corn flavors and a little nibble here and there, and now you’re ready to throw yourself into all things candy corn! If you think you’re ready to eat it by the handful but you’re worried the flavor will be a little too much for you, there’s a simple solution. You’re absolutely ready to make candy corn the main flavor of your dishes, but you should make sure to balance out the flavor with other stronger flavors (like salt). Try these recipes, for example.
- Barking mad (about candy corn)
You’d hear “candy corn bark” and automatically picture something way too sweet to enjoy. But this candy corn bark actually does a really good job of keeping the sweetness of the candy corn in check with semisweet chocolate (which is not as overpowering as white chocolate) and salty pretzels. Plus, there are Rolos in this, so it’s automatically delicious.
- So! Many! Flavors!
This candy corn popcorn is much more than just candy corn and popcorn. You’ll taste chocolate and marshmallow too.. While candy corn definitely plays a leading role in this snack, there are so many other flavors that you’ll almost forget what you’re eating.
- Warm up to it
With Halloween comes colder weather, so why not incorporate candy corns into a homemade hot chocolate recipe? Melt down candy corn and some white chocolate into this sweet hot chocolate that will keep you nice and toasty.
So, in conclusion, if you go about it one step at a time, eating candy corn may not be the worst thing in the world. I might even try out some of these recipes myself. Happy Halloween, and here’s to adding yet another candy to the shopping list this year!
Related Video: Candy Corn Oreos Raise a Question: Why?
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