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Candy corn travels from the treat bag to the table

Nobody is middle of the road about candy corn. You either love or hate the seasonal tri-colored candy that is as much a symbol of Halloween as the jack- o'-lantern.

People who hate candy corn say it's more waxy than a dozen statues at Madame Tussauds. It's also off the sweet-o-meter chart. And woe be the kid with braces who has to spend hours digging the sticky goo out of metal.

On the other side of the divide are candy corn nibblers (and gobblers) who get a nostalgic kick from the pointy treats. The taste, they say, is divine. It must be to someone, because candy corn has been around for more than 100 years.

We eat an impressive 20-million pounds of it a year, and 75 percent of that is the traditional white, yellow and orange variety. Indian corn, which is chocolate and vanilla flavored, reindeer corn (red, green and white) and cupid corn (red, pink and white) make up the rest. Brach's makes a caramel-flavored candy corn.

For candy corn lovers, ripping into a new bag is ghoulish fun and plenty satisfying.

For us? Well, we like to tinker. What can we do with a bag of autumn mix (traditional candy corn, the somber-colored Indian corn and that perfectly plump pumpkin with the green tuft on top) other than eat it until our stomachs growl and twist with the sure signs of overindulgence?

Cook with it, of course. We'll let you in on a little secret. Candy corn gets sort of bad-tempered when heated. It doesn't really play well with other ingredients. You want something festive and sure-fire? Throw a handful into Rice Krispies treats or popcorn balls. Press candy corn into slice-and-bake sugar cookies as soon as they are removed from the oven; the heat will melt them slightly and stick them in place. Or make the White Chocolate Candy Corn Bark recipe that accompanies this story. It is overly sweet and ridiculously silly, but it will be a hit at your party.

We tried to get fancy and here are the results:

Sandra Lee, she of Food Network semi-homemade and table-scape fame, sent us a recipe for candy corn chocolate cupcakes. It started with a cake mix, of course, with candy corn folded into the batter. When we tested the recipe, the melted candy sank to the bottom of the cupcake papers and stuck there. We'd hoped the candy corn would incorporate evenly, but no luck.

Domenica Macchia, the inventive chef of MJ's in St. Petersburg, created a Candy Corn S'mores recipe to share with St. Petersburg Times readers. We think it's more like Candy Corn Truffles and didn't have near the luck with them that she did. We include the recipe here more for giggles rather than a recommendation for your weekend party. Melting marshmallows and candy corn together turns out a brilliant orange, taffylike melange, but it didn't hold its shape when we tried to force it into a ball. Tasted pretty good though.

We had surprising success turning pecan pieces into candy-corn-kissed bites to scatter on a salad. Yes, a salad. The sweetness of the candy corn on the earthy pecans mingled brightly with blue cheese (we like Maytag) and apple cider vinaigrette. Consider this for a Halloween dinner party. Or even later as a way to use up leftover candy corn.

Maybe this is one way to make candy corn last through Thanksgiving.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>easy

White Chocolate Candy Corn Bark

16 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos), chopped

1 1/2 cups small pretzels, broken

1/3 cup raisins (see note)

2 (6-ounce) boxes white baking chocolate, broken into squares

2 cups candy corn (regular or caramel flavored)

Spread the cookies, pretzels and raisins evenly onto a lightly greased small baking sheet. Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from the heat while there are still a few chunks, and stir until smooth. White chocolate burns easily.

With a spoon, drizzle chocolate over the goodies in the pan, spreading the top flat to coat evenly. Top with candy corn and sprinkles. Let cool until firm. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Note: You may substitute craisins, peanuts or a mix.

Serves 20.

Source: www.allrecipes.com

>>easy

Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

1 (3-ounce) bag popped light butter microwave popcorn

1 cup candy corn

1/2 cup peanuts (optional)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (10-ounce) bag mini-marshmallows

Cooking spray

Combine popcorn, candy corn and peanuts in a large bowl.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in salt and marshmallows. Reduce heat to low; cook for 7 minutes or until the marshmallows melt and the mixture is smooth, stirring frequently.

Pour marshmallow mixture over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat well. Let cool slightly. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray; shape popcorn mixture into 20 (2-inch) balls.

Source: Adapted from www.myrecipes.com.

>>easy

Goblin Gorp

2 cups peanuts

1/2 cup Goldfish crackers

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

1 cup candy corn

In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in covered container. Makes 5 cups.

Source: St. Petersburg Times

>>moderate

Maytag Blue Cheese and Pears Over

Greens With Candy-Corned Pecans

and Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Candy-corned pecans:

1/2 cup candy corn

1/2 cup pecan halves

Cooking spray

Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown mustard (not Dijon)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:

1 bag mixed baby field greens

1 pear, julienned with skin left on

3/4 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese (see note)

4 pecan halves

To make the candy-corned pecans, melt the candy corn in a medium skillet, stirring frequently. When thoroughly melted, add the pecans and stir to coat. Turn the pecan mixture onto wax paper that has been coated with a nonstick spray. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Spritz your hands with spray and separate nuts, patting each to surround with the melted candy. Cool. (Store in an airtight container. They may stick but are easily pried apart.)

For the dressing, stir together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, then slowly add the oil with a whisk. Toss the dressing with the salad just before serving.

To assemble, mix greens and pear slices and dress with vinaigrette. Divide among four salad plates and dot with the blue cheese. Place four pecan halves on each salad.

Note: Any other crumbled blue cheese can be substituted.

Serves 4 to 5.

Source: Janet K. Keeler,

Times food editor

>>just for fun

Candy Corn S'mores

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 (10.5-ounce) bag of mini-marshmallows

1 (15-ounce) bag candy corn

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan. Stir marshmallows into melted butter, stirring until melted. Add candy corn until melted. Stir completely to incorporate.

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet that's been coated with a nonstick spray. Let cool to room temperature.

Melt chocolate chips either in a double-boiler or in the microwave.

Roll about a teaspoon of the candy corn mixture into a ball and dip into the melted chocolate to cover. Roll into graham cracker crumbs until completely coated and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all candy corn mixture is gone.

Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Note: This recipe is for someone who wants to experiment. We like the premise, but we had difficulty getting the marshmallow balls to hold their shape, and after an hour in the fridge, they were too hard to bite into.

Source: Domenica Macchia, MJ's, St. Petersburg

Candy corn travels from the treat bag to the table 10/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2008 3:14pm]

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