Candy corn has the worst rap. Of all the Halloween candies, it is up there with Bit-O-Honey for most reviled seasonal treat. But I seriously don't get it. I love the stuff, particularly when it's mixed up with peanuts or other salty goodness.
My kids love it too, bless their hearts. I realize it’s not exactly health food, so I don’t buy it in bulk or anything, much as I might want to. I did, however, make a delicious cookie inspired by the treat recently that we thought was pretty fun.
Halloween is a blast for kids and I’m not afraid to get all “Martha Stewart” about it, in my own more “Roseanne Barr” way. These were easy and cheap to make and, though they don’t taste like real candy corn, are a fun treat to make the season seem just a little more special.
I loved this because it's just simple ingredients that most of us probably have lying around: sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla, food coloring. So basic, but fun for kids to help with and a pretty cute product when it's finished. And there's no messy frosting or fancy piping that needs to happen. The decoration is built right in.
'Candy Corn' Cookies
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
Red food coloring
Yellow food coloring
Combine the sugars, butter and shortening in a mixing bowl and beat well.
Add in the egg, and vanilla and again, combine thoroughly.
In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then slowly add them into the sugar mixture. It should create a very nice soft dough.
When everything is mixed, separate the dough into three sections: small, medium and large. The small section will be yellow, the medium will be left "white" or natural, and the large will be orange.
Add food coloring to get your desired colors and mix it thoroughly. I found the paddle on my stand mixer to be the best way to do this.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and layer in the dough, bringing it to a smaller point as you go. First, the widest white layer, then a thicker but less-wide orange layer, and then a smaller and narrower yellow layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a least a few hours.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the "loaf" from top to bottom and roll out. I had to use a knife to cut off the sides at a nice angle — this will leave nice scraps for a few "hodgepodge" cookies at the end.
The thicker you can roll these, the better. It will only make about 10 good-sized cookies, but that's all you need! They're rather large.
My cookies are very imperfect and not "Pinterest-worthy" but I think that makes them even more fun.
I only baked them for about 5 or 6 minutes. A little underbaked is better than too crispy in my opinion.
Sometimes you just need dessert.
At my house, it's not often. No one is that into sweets. We'd all like an extra helping of mashed potatoes, thankyouverymuch, but it's not hard for us to pass on pie or pastry.
But, still, I have a 4-year-old. And sometimes the kid just needs a cookie. I, however, am not fond of baking a whole batch of cookies, because as much as I don't crave dessert, I am weak of spirit and if a gooey chocolate chip cookie is just lying there looking at me, I'ma prolly eat it. And nine of its friends.
So I came up with this nifty way to make cookies with and for my boy, and he thinks its the niftiest thing ever, and it's a SINGLE SERVING, so ain't nobody going off their diets over these things.
Also, it's fun because you do this in a mug. It reminds my son of hot chocolate, as he has a special Lawrence Library mug that he takes his hot chocolate in, with LOTS OF MARSHMALLOWS, MOMMY, so seeing that mug come out of the cabinet means lots of awesomeness is coming his way, in one way or another.
1 (generous - I usually go a little over here) tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Healthy pinch of salt (I like kosher)
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
Melt the butter in the mug in the microwave. Stir in the sugars, vanilla and salt, and then fully mix in the yolk.
Stir in the flour and the chocolate chips, and microwave for 30 seconds — maybe a few more if it's still raw in the middle. I prefer mine undercooked.
It's fabulous with ice cream, served hot. And your 4-year-old can practically do this himself if you're comfortable with him cracking eggs, which I totally am.
It makes one large serving, but really it's perfect for two spoons and a special sharing moment.
It's no secret that I'm not much of a baker. I'm a goddess of cake mixes, ice cream parfaits, roasted pears and other "fake out" desserts. One of the few things I do well is make cookies, and even then, I only have a handful of go-to recipes that work well for me. One of those favorite recipes is my sugar cookie recipe, which I whip out several times a year, for Christmas, birthdays and Valentine's Day.
This year, I made a lot of heart-shaped cookies, and I wanted to fancy them up a bit because I'd be sending most of them to the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Valentine's Day bake sale. This gave me some pause, seeing as I am not coordinated, have zero artistic talent, and am a general failure at all things confection. Still, I wanted to try my hand at making royal icing and outlining the cookies and then flooding them instead of using my usual method of dumping some orange juice in powdered sugar and spilling a bit of it over each cookie.
Also, just for fun, I wanted to make cookie "pops," similar to but not to be confused with the cake pops that have recently captured the imaginations of bakers and bloggers far and wide. Because everything is more fun if it's on a stick.
So I pulled out all my Valentine cookie cutters, and put Lindsey to work in my kitchen while our kids ate their weight in rice krispie treats and frozen pizzas. Mothers of the year, we are.
My trusty sugar cookie recipe did not fail, even with doubling it to produce the volume of cookies we were looking for. We cut out small hearts, X's and O's, big hearts, double hearts, and lips, and in most of them we inserted a stick about a third of the way into the bottom of the cookie. If you are going to do these cookie pops, you need to roll your cookies out thicker than you normally would, so be prepared to get a few less cookies per batch than you might be used to getting.
Tired from the cutting, rolling, baking and repeating, I put the cookies away after they cooled to frost the next day.
I made a simply royal icing. First, you want a stiff icing, for piping around the exterior of the cookie or for forming out whatever shapes you think you will need (for example, I freehanded small center "holes" in the middle of my "O" cookies.)
Some people like to make this with egg whites, and that is a good option if A) you aren't afraid of raw eggs, and B) you don't have any meringue powder laying around. But I did happen to have a bag of meringue powder I'd picked up at a cookie decorating class at Sweet! in downtown Lawrence, so I was happy to take the easier (and potentially safer) way out.
Stiff Royal Icing for Piping
4 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other extract, whatever you like)
Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, and then beat with a mixer after adding the water and extract on a medium high speed for about five minutes, until the icing is glossy and forms stiff peaks.
Affix your pastry bag with a fairly small piping tip, and spoon some frosting in. I like to fold the bag down halfway, spoon about a half a cup of icing in, push it down to get the air out, twist above the frosting, and then begin frosting. Too much frosting in the bag and you'll have a mess on your hands. Literally, the frosting might squeeze out the top of the bag and get all over your hands.
If you are a better person than I, you will pipe slowly and carefully around your cookies and make intricate shapes. But I don't have time for precision like that. I slapped those hearts out as fast as I could. I did about 100 cookies, and still had a lot of icing left with which to fill.
Take your icing bowl back to the mixer and add another half a cup of water, and beat again. Keep adding more water until you have a runny frosting that, when dropped by a spoonful back into itself does not maintain its shape, but disappears rather quickly back into the contents of the bowl.
Then I switched to a "fill" tip (though a squeeze bottle like the kind you get ketchup and mustard in in restaurants works very well) and began filling in the cookies. This is fun for me because it's not precise. I just drop a dollop of the runny fill icing onto the cookie and kind of smoosh it around until it's covered the required area.
Lay your finished cookies flat for several hours to be sure they are dry. You can then pipe words or decorations on with more of the stiff royal icing if you remembered to reserve some. I didn't, so I just decorated everything with sprinkles and was happy.
Here's hoping these babies make my Valentine's Day, as well as the Valentine's Day of some LMH employees, feel loved and happy and a little soft and crumbly, just like the cookies.