If you're a fan of this seasonal treat, just wait until you taste the glory that is Homemade Candy Corn. I make mine with honey, which yields a delicious treat that tastes like Bit O' Honey and traditional candy corn had a baby. This is one bucket list recipe that I'll definitely be making more than once.
It is undeniable that Halloween is going to look quite a bit different this year. If you're looking for activities to get you (and the kids) in the spirit without leaving the house, try making your own Halloween candy corn!
Not only is it a great science experiment (sugar crystals change their form to make stretchy candy!) that can also be used to teach math (what's an easier way to grasp fractions than measuring cups??), the dough is almost like PlayDough, so the kids can get a little crafty, too. Hello, STEAM learning!
Table of Contents
- Why on earth would I make my own candy corn?
- Making the Honey Candy Corn Dough
- Coloring and Shaping Homemade Candy Corn
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more kid friendly treats to get you through the weekend? Check out these other recipes:
Why on earth would I make my own candy corn?
I assume if you're reading this, you've at least eaten commercially produced candy corn. And I also assume that you hold the same opinion of it as I do: it's awesome. Pair it with some salted peanuts or pretzels and you have a salty-sweet, chewy-crunchy delight that's hard to beat.
I'm less certain that any of you have tried Bit O' Honey candy. Joe, who is 5 years older than me, had never heard of it. It's super old timey, chewy like taffy and is a honey-nut flavored delight. To this day, it's still one of my favorite candies. (Next to candy corn and Violet Crumbles, that is.)
Back in Sacramento, we had a part of town called Old Sacramento with cute little cobblestone streets and cool little wooden stores connected with a wood sidewalk. One of my favorite stores growing up was the Candy Barrel, where huge wooden barrels had any kind of candy you could think of for a nickel apiece. Needless to say, I usually stocked up on my Bit O' Honey whenever I got to go.
This homemade candy corn with honey has the flavor profile of regular candy corn mixed with the honeyed sweetness and extra chewiness of Bit O' Honey. It is bonkers. If you even remotely like candy corn, you're gonna lose your mind when you try some of the homemade stuff.
As a bonus? You can totally customize the colors to your liking. Want it to be a little spookier? How about black, green and orange instead of the traditional orange, yellow and white. Want to make some reindeer corn? Make it red, green and gold.
Rolling out the dough made me think of a rainbow, so I have a hankering to make it for Pride next year. See? I found a way you can eat this yummy treat all year round and feel totally seasonally appropriate. You're welcome.
Making the Honey Candy Corn Dough
First up, gather your ingredients. I'd bet you already have most of them on hand - powdered sugar, kosher salt, regular sugar, light corn syrup, honey, butter and vanilla.
The two "weird" ingredients you might need to make a run to the store for are dry powdered milk and food coloring. You're also going to need a heavy bottomed saucepan and a candy thermometer.
TIP: If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can still make these, but you'll need a glass of water nearby to know when the mixture gets to soft ball stage.
Now, pull out your food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Alternately, you can use a blender. Tip in the powdered sugar, dry milk powder and salt, then whiz it until the powdered milk is nice and fine. This took me about 30 seconds. Set the dry mix aside.
In the saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey and water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for four minutes undisturbed, then add butter. Clip the candy thermometer to your pan and make sure the tip is not touching the bottom, which can give you a falsely high reading.
TIP: If you're making this with kids, be sure to have them only observe and not touch during this process. The caramelization of sugar creates something that I imagine is akin to napalm. If it gets on your skin, it is very hard to get off and will burn you quite badly. Trust me, I've done it.
If you're using a glass thermometer, brush up how to read it properly with this kid friendly video. Once the temperature hits 135F, you can turn off the flame. The temperature should continue to rise, and our target for soft ball stage is between 135-140F.
Add in the dry mix and the vanilla, and stir vigorously with a silicone spatula to combine. You'll need to let the mixture cool down quite a bit before it can be handled by tiny humans.
TIP: To speed up the cooling process, pour the mix out onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. It should only take about 10-15 minutes to cool this way, versus 30-40 minutes if you leave it in the pan.
Coloring and Shaping Homemade Candy Corn
Once the dough is cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to be pliable, separate it into three roughly even pieces. I shaped mine into quasi-donut shapes with a small indentation in the center to drip your food coloring.
TIP: This homemade candy corn with honey doesn't quite come out stark white. Depending on how dark your honey is, the dough may even be a little tan colored. If you want a straight white candy base, omit the honey and sub more light corn syrup instead. Otherwise, simply color all three pieces of dough.
Once you have your dough portioned out, start with 2-3 drops of gel food coloring per piece. Knead the dough until the color is uniform throughout.
TIP: If you're worried about hands getting stained, you can totally wear gloves. I found that the longer I worked the dough, the color got pulled from my skin and back to the dough.
Now, cut each of your colored dough pieces in half. Roll each one out into a long, thin strand, about ½" thick and about 2' long. Stack one of each color in the desired order, then use your fingers to smoosh the strands together vertically, being careful not to obscure the middle color.
Now, using the palm of your hand, vigorously rub the top of the three strands to help flatten them together, as well as to increase the shine. Flip the triad over, then repeat with your palm on this side until shiny and relatively flat.
Using a bench scraper (or a sharper knife, if you're an adult), cut small triangular pieces by alternating your tip left \ and right /. Keep going until all the pieces are cut. Allow to cool completely, then store in single layers between pieces of parchment. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I allowed the dough to cool too much before kneading and shaping?
Not to worry! Simply microwave the candy corn dough in 10 second bursts until it is soft enough to work with.
I'm a vegan, so the honey and butter don't work for me.
I'm picking up what you're putting down! Simply sub vegan butter and extra corn syrup for the forbidden ingredients.
How long will homemade candy corn last?
In our house, not long at all. Plus, this is Halloween! Let the kiddos get their once-yearly massive sugar high, amirite? But in all seriousness, if you have the self control, homemade candy corn should last 7-10 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Need more kid friendly treats to get you through the weekend? Check out these other recipes:
If you tried this homemade candy corn recipe, please rate and review it below so I know how it turned out for you! If you want more yummy recipes, grocery reviews and store bought hacks delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook for delicious food pics on your feed.
Homemade Candy Corn with Honey
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade (or a blender if you don't have one), combine powdered sugar, dry milk powder and salt. Pulse to combine and cut milk powder into finer pieces, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In heavy bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, honey and water. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 4 minutes undisturbed.
- Clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan, ensuring the bulb isn't touching the bottom of the pan. Add butter and stir to combine. Cook until at least 235F and no more than 240F, then remove from heat. (See notes)
- Stir in vanilla and dry mixture with a silicone spatula until well combined. Pour out onto Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet to cool. After about 15 minutes, the dough should be cool enough to handle.
- Separate dough into 3 equal pieces. Color each piece (starting with 2-3 drops) of gel food coloring then knead to achieve desired and uniform color.
- Separate each piece into two halves. Starting with one piece of each color, roll out into a long, thin strand, about ½" thick and 2' long. Stack the colors in the desired order, then gently smoosh (vertically) together all three pieces with your fingertips, being careful not to obscure the middle color.Using the palm of your hand, vigorously rub the top of the triad strand to flatten it and increase its sheen. Flip the piece over and repeat with your palm until mostly smooth.Repeat with other three strands.
- Using a bench scraper (or sharp knife) cut each strip into small triangles by alternating your tip left and right /. Continue until all pieces are formed.
- Allow to cool completely, then store in single layers separated by parchment in an airtight container for up to 10 days.Enjoy!
- If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can figure out which stage your candy is in using this water method.
- If you are using a glass thermometer, this video is great for teaching kids how to properly read one.
- Be sure to supervise children during the candy making process. Do not allow young children to touch the candy while it is cooking! It is super hot and will stick to skin. Bench scrapers are advised for letting the little ones cut pieces.
- Feel free to switch up the colors to your liking!
- If you want a stark white dough, omit the honey and sub more light corn syrup instead.