With eager anticipation, I tuned into tonight's new episode of Good Eats, entitled "All Hallows Eats". Alton gave his own take on some Halloween classics: popcorn balls, candy apples, and candy corn. Here is what I thought about each of these treats.
I have never been that much of a fan of candy corn, but I have never had any good candy corn. That is why I am willing to give Alton's a try. It involves cooking a sugar syrup to the thread stage. He uses light corn syrup to help minimize crystallization that would result in a grainy candy. He adds some butter to make the candy creamy. He uses vanilla extract for flavor. This is where you could change the flavor by using whatever extract you like - a citrus one or mint would be nice.
Once the candy is ready, he separates it into 3 pieces in order to make the three colors candy corn is known for: white, yellow, and orange. You of course could do any colors that you like. For the food coloring he uses a gel paste food coloring instead of the usual stuff you find anywhere. Gel paste provides more vivid colors. I purchased the same brand he bought at Baker's Nook in Saline, Michigan. You can find gel paste food coloring through Baker's Nook online business or at your local cake decorating shop.
The most surprising thing about this recipe is that he uses a butter cutter. I guess these things aren't uni-taskers after all. You can obviously just cut them with a knife but it will take longer.
Click here to read my full review of this recipe.
This recipe is pretty basic. You may your candy coating and then dip the apples in it. He recommended giving the apples a quick warm water soak to remove the food wax that companies place on their apples. I get to skip this step, since the only apples I buy are from local farmers who skip this process. As for apples to use, make sure to choose something that doesn't have too thick of a skin or is too large. He likes apples such as McIntosh and Pink Lady. When I give this recipe a try, I am going to try a couple different types of apples.
One thing I am not going to try is adding the cayenne pepper. People who like a little heat even in desserts, by all means add it, I will just keep mine hiding away in my spice drawer.
Lastly, Alton makes the classic popcorn ball. This is probably the easiest recipe of the bunch. Just make the syrup then add it to your popped corn, and combine. This recipe has a lot of room for variation. You can use different kinds of popcorn kernels (yes different colors of popcorn do have slightly different flavors). He uses cocoa nibs to give his popcorn balls a chocolate flavor. You could leave them out all together or try something else, like toffee pieces, peanut butter chips, or nuts. As Alton would say "the sky is the limit".
For popping the popcorn, check out my post on making your own microwave popcorn.
Click here for my full review of this recipe.
A great episode, full of recipes that you can do a lot of variations with. Most of them are pretty easy, with the candy corn being the most challenging and time consuming of the bunch. Still think how fun it would be to show up to a Halloween party, with bags of your homemade candy corn. I love how Good Eats provides you with those kinds of opportunites.
For the full recipes, visit Food Network's website.