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.
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.
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!
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