Halloween Candy Confessions

Today is not just the eve of Halloween. It's National Candy Corn Day!

I'll admit that I'm a fan of the waxy, tri-colored triangles that every kid in America sticks up his nose at some point during childhood. I love to bite off its white tip and ponder its decidedly unnatural shade of comic-strip orange. I love its cloying sweetness and that it tastes nothing like corn or anything remotely from a farm.


Apples get a caramel cloak just in time for Halloween. (Kim O'Donnel)

Remember the good old days, when Halloween was a time to reap the ultimate in candy creations? I thought I had died and gone to heaven when my plastic pumpkin contained a pair of wax lips, a pack of chalky "cigarettes" and a store receipt-like strip of paper dotted with edible pastel buttons that you scraped off with your teeth. Oh, and the candy necklaces! What a life.

Over the past few years, I've learned to make candy, a kitchen science project that inevitably takes me back to my single-digit years. At its essence, candy making, on a small homespun scale, is about sugar cookery, which is the closest thing you'll get to alchemy in the kitchen. Sugar, when heated, has many personalities and depending on its partner in the pot, can transform into a pillowy marshmallow or a rock-hard butterscotch sucker.

I never tire of sugar's complex chemistry, because I always learn something. One of my latest tricks is caramel-dipped apples, a classic farm-stand special that dates to the 1950s when someone from Kraft apparently (remember those soft square caramels sold at the supermarket?) began to play in the caramel kitchen.

If you're still looking for a treat to adorn your Halloween party table, the caramel apple is a goodie. You can make them tonight and keep overnight in fridge to set up. The caramel -- a perfectly balanced goo which includes sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup and brown sugar -- will probably take the enamel off your teeth, but hey, no one high on candy corns will notice a thing.

Caramel Apple Recipe How-to.

What's the weirdest Halloween candy that you gotta own up to loving? Fess up in the comments area below or share your favorite homemade Halloween confection. Trick or treat!

By Kim ODonnel |  October 29, 2006; 11:10 PM ET Autumn Classics
Previous: Happy Halloween, Pumpkin Muffin | Next: Brittle Love Don't Come Easy

Comments

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Can you give us some recipes to other candy you make? I'm new to making candy at home, but would love to try some new recipes...! Thanks. :)

Posted by: Sarah | October 30, 2006 10:20 AM

Mary Janes. I LOVE Mary Janes. I could eat them by the handful. They will be among the many candies I give out. We always buy "mix" bags and small bags of our favorites to put into a huge bowl. Then I give three to each costumed kid: a chocolate something, a sugary non-chocolate something, and a "gross" something (like eyeball-shaped lollies). The last trick-or-treaters before we retire for the night get whatever is leftover so we have no leftovers.

I've tried to make candy before, but it doesn't turn out well. I think the humidity in the house is too high or something. The next time I try, I'll wait for a very dry day.

Posted by: Merry Samhain | October 30, 2006 11:20 AM

As a kid I always loved getting the rootbeer barrel candies when we went trick-or-treating.

I've got a great halloween cookie cutter in the shape of a cat arching its back. Any thoughts on the perfect halloween cookie to make with it?

Posted by: Mmmm | October 30, 2006 11:48 AM

I LOVED pixie-stix growing up--those candy powder sticks in lots of different flavors that always stained your teeth some fluorescent- freak-of-nature color.

Posted by: scottiedog | October 30, 2006 1:15 PM

Scottiedog: I was also partial to Sugar Babies, the offspring of the Sugar Daddy taffy pop. Yowza.
Sarah: I have done lollipops, marshmallows and caramel squares. Interested in details? Holler.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | October 30, 2006 1:23 PM

Hey, remember those flat things made with coconut, that were colored white, pink and brown? I don't remember what they were called, but they had a lovely coconut taste. And I loved those chocolate candy bars that had five different fillings. Yum! And Bonomo's vanilla Turkish taffy!

Posted by: Foggy Bottom | October 30, 2006 1:26 PM

Peanut Butter Kisses--the ones in the orange and black wrappers. I still treat myself to a bag every year.

Posted by: js | October 30, 2006 1:47 PM

Even as a child, I was a chocoholic. At the all important Sorting of the Candy, chocolate bars got prime place (Unless they had nuts. Then my nut-loving mother got them.). The bottom rank was hard candy. I always suspected that someone had cleaned out a candy dish that had been sitting around since last Halloween.

Apples were unworthy of consideration. I made sure my mother heard all of the stories about needles and razor blades hidden in apples.

Posted by: WMA | October 30, 2006 1:54 PM

My favorite candy from childhood Halloweens were always the Brach's Royals. All flavors. They have been renamed to "Milk Maids" in recent years. Any idea where to find them? I'm stumped - and bummed....

Posted by: Candygrrl | October 30, 2006 3:15 PM

I think that gingerbread would be great for the cat cookie cutter.

Posted by: eileen | October 30, 2006 4:52 PM

I'm a chocoholic, too. I always give out Hershey's kisses in several varieties and whatever isn't give out at trick or treat IS MINE, ALL MINE!

Posted by: BB | October 30, 2006 5:00 PM

candygrrl---check out the bulk candy area at Giant (at least they used to be there). I loved the raspberry ones.

Posted by: js | October 30, 2006 9:19 PM

Smarties. Always trade all your other candy for Smarties.

Posted by: karen | October 30, 2006 9:45 PM

Decorate the cat cookies with icing tinted black, and dyed coconut either orange or black and put on the icing while it is wet. Take a small orange or yellow gumdrop and cut off a piece and shape into an eye, should be cute.

Posted by: Fairfax | October 31, 2006 9:16 AM

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