Halloween usually means consuming copious amounts of processed sugars. Now I have one teenager and one pre-teen and there is no way that I can prevent them from going trick or treating, what I can do however is try and decrease the amount of processed sugar that they eat and give them yes, the dreaded sweetener. Now I am not a huge fan of sweetener – personally I prefer to consume coconut sugar, raw honey, or maple syrup. Sweetener, particularly erythritol, can leave me feeling a tad on the crazy side. Xylitol seems to have the least effect on me but due to the nature of the recipe and having to manipulate the sugars I went with erythritol.
These Paleo Candy Corn have the same browned sugar, caramel, and milky marshmallow notes as their original unhealthy counterparts but minus the dairy and processed corn syrup!
Now having scoured the internet for Paleo Candy Corn recipes, it’s safe to say that I found none… like nada… zilch. One notable creative mention though is from Plaid & Paleo who created the most amazing Paleo Candy Corn Gummies – so please go there for a super healthy holiday option! If I’m going to be brutally honest even if you made these with just coconut sugar and raw honey they still aren’t going to be Paleo – this recipe in no way represents the Paleo diet. It does however, give those of us the opportunity to enjoy our favourite childhood (and adulthood) Halloween candies in the healthiest way possible.
Candy Corn is an incredibly popular American Halloween treat that is becoming equally as popular over here in the UK. For those of you that haven’t tried it, well you’re missing out but you’re kinda not missing out. It’s taste can vary from brand to brand – from sickly sugary ickyness to more of a milky and browned sugar taste, and its texture is sort of melt in your mouth smooth yet a tad chewy. A slightly hard exterior with a smoother and softer interior that bursts into sugary bliss. In fact I can’t think of a British equivalent at all. It’s just gross but kinda epic and moreish. The traditional American Candy Corn is made with copious amounts of sugar, corn syrup, butter, and milk powder. So, as you can see it’s not the healthiest.
Now, I wanted to make this recipe as accessible to as many people as possible so it’s nut and dairy free and I have included some vegan subs in there too. Just bear in mind that the more coconut sugar or maple syrup you use the less vibrant the colour will be. The colour itself won’t stay very vibrant for very long due to the nature of natural food colourings – even if you make your own from turmeric and beet juice or powders – but they will indeed taste the same as the real thing so don’t be disheartened.
You probably won’t be able to eat the whole lot – in fact if you do then I want proof – as they are super sweet and when you’ve cleaned up your act anything sweet becomes a bit laborious to eat. Just enjoy a tiny handful and share out the wealth with the rest of your family and friends because that’s what Halloween is really about!
This homemade Paleo Candy Corn isn’t as tough to make as you may think so go on and give it a whirl! Want something a little healthier this Halloween? Try out my Ghostly Halloween White Chocolate Apples – crisp, tart apples coated in a sugar and dairy free raw white chocolate, dusted in shredded coconut.
- 1 cup powdered sweetener (I used erythritol)
- ½ cup coconut milk powder
- Generous pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup sweetener such as erythritol, xylitol, or maple sugar
- ¼ cup raw honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 tbsp butter (or 1 tbsp cacao butter plus 1 tbsp coconut oil)
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp orange extract
- Natural red and yellow food colouring
- Start by sifting the powdered sweetener, coconut milk powder, and sea salt into a large mixing bowl using a sieve. This will ensure that your end product doesn't turn out lumpy!
- Next line a baking sheet with nonstick greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat and keep it close to your stove top as you'll have to move fast!
- Melt your coconut sugar, sweetener, raw honey, butter, and water into a 2 litre (2-quart) heavy bottomed saucepan. Place the pan on a medium heat and cook until the sugars are dissolved and the butter has melted (about 6 minutes). You can give it the odd stir but try not to move it around too much!
- Clip a sugar thermometer or instant-read thermometer onto the side of the pan. Allow the syrup come to a full boil and cook the sugar syrup to soft ball stage - typically 112 to 116 °C (234 to 241 °F).
- Due to the nature of coconut sugar the syrup can even be ready before the typical soft ball temperatures so just before you reach soft ball stage check the syrup using the cold water test - drop a teaspoon of the syrup into a glass of cold water and check the consistency of the syrup. It should form a flexible ball whose shape can be easily changed. If you don't have a sugar thermometer then this is a great way of figuring out when your syrup is ready.
- If you find that your syrup is over done don't panic! Simply add a tbsp or two of water to the syrup and heat again until the desired texture is achieved.
- Carefully add your vanilla and orange extracts to the syrup — the syrup will bubble up and sputter quite a lot so watch out! Immediately pour the syrup into your dry ingredients that you kept aside in your mixing bowl and stir with a silicone spatula until it forms a smooth dough.
- Pour your dough out onto your pre-lined baking tray and leave the dough to cool for 5 to 10 minutes or until you are able to handle it. For this next part your need to act fast as the dough will stiffen as it cools and become almost impossible to roll out.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Make a well into the center of each piece and begin to work in your food colouring. Colour one piece yellow and the other orange. Leave the remaining piece as it is.
- Knead the pieces until they are a uniform colour.
- Roll each piece of dough into a long strand, about 18" long (or ½" thick) and cut each strand in half, or into quarters, to make it easier to work with.
- Once you have created your strands quickly lay a yellow strand down, place an orange strand above, and finally an uncoloured strand above that. Press together gently and cut into triangles using a paring knife. Repeat the process until all of your dough has been used.
- Leave the finished pieces of candy corn to dry on a some nonstick baking parchment for about 1 hour before storing in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking. These will keep at room temperature for about 4-6 weeks.
** If making your own powdered sugar blend ½ cup of erythritol to yield 1 cup.