Candy Corn Cupcakes

Candy Corn CupcakesCake week, y’all. It gets me every time. The last week of every month is full of cake orders, and between those and my day job, this blog always seems to get shoved to the side. Perhaps one day I’ll be more organized. Or be able to afford an assistant.

Fortunately, the cake madness is done just in time for me to post a Halloween treat! I am not actually a fan of Halloween, but I cannot get enough candy corn. I know half of you think the stuff is disgusting, and I totally get it–it’s too sweet, a bit chalky, and gets stuck in your teeth. But I love it. I have three huge bags of the stuff in my kitchen, so I’m set on candy corn for at least a month.

Candy Corn CupcakesSurely by now you’ve seen candy corn cupcakes on Pinterest and other social media. The gist is that vanilla cake batter is dyed orange and yellow, baked into cupcakes, and topped with white vanilla buttercream. Sure, the cupcakes are cute and festive, but for a candy corn aficionado like myself, they leave something to be desired. Namely, the very distinct flavor of candy corn.

What does candy corn taste like? Well, mostly it’s just sweet–so sweet, in fact, that it’s hard to detect any real flavor. Many brands of the stuff boast that they are made with “real honey” (as opposed to all that fake honey). Armed with this information, I figured a honey-vanilla cake batter was a good place to start. However, when I tasted the batter before baking, I found the flavor to be lacking a little. My vanilla cake batter is good, as is the addition of honey, but this batter tasted nothing like candy corn.

Candy Corn CupcakesEnter my secret ingredient: imitation butter extract. It sounds super gross, but it’s really not. It has this uncanny ability to give baked goods that sort of nostalgic quality that’s found in the boxed mixes of our youths. It makes sugar cookie dough with sprinkles taste like Funfetti cake mix, and here, it makes these honey-vanilla cupcakes taste a little more like candy corn. There’s only 1/4 teaspoon of the stuff in the entire recipe; just enough to make the final products taste a little like candy corn without making them taste completely artificial. If imitation butter extract is not for you, feel free to leave it out. Your honey-vanilla cupcakes will still be festive and delicious.

The frosting is just my vanilla buttercream doctored up with a little honey (and the extract). It’s luxuriously light and fluffy, and oh, how I wish my cake decorating skills could make it look as delicious as it is. You’ll just have to take my word for it (or better–make it!). Although it does look pretty good sort of drooping over the tops of these cupcakes.

Candy Corn CupcakesHappy Halloween, y’all! Let me know if you make these Candy Corn Cupcakes this weekend 😊

Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
yellow food coloring
red food coloring

Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
candy corn, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by honey. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla, imitation butter extract, and buttermilk.

Divide batter into two bowls. Add yellow food coloring to both bowls and stir together until you are happy with the color. Add red food coloring one drop at a time to one of the bowls, until your desired orange color is achieved.

Add 2 tablespoons of yellow batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 2 tablespoons of orange batter. Liners should be 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in honey, vanilla, and imitation butter extract. Mix in heavy cream until combined. Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with candy corn.

Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Confession: I am one of those adults who positively loathes Halloween. This Saturday night, you will not see me at any costume parties or roaming the crowds of the West Village Halloween Parade. And as there are no children in our building, I won’t be handing out any candy either. As a nanny though, I’ve had to learn to feign interest for the sake of some sweet little friends of mine. For the last four years, I’ve helped squeeze tiny people into itchy costumes, stood in line to get professional photos taken to commemorate that year they dressed up as turtles and cried for six hours straight, and even once taken them trick-or-treating…and that’s all before the sugar-induced meltdowns. Needless to say, I’m a little relieved that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year so I can stay home with Henry, who feels the same way. But for all the grimacing I do on those days, I have to remember that I loved Halloween when I was little. I dressed up as two Disney Princesses, Queen Guinevere (in a vintage purple velvet bridesmaid’s dress that once belonged to my Aunt Jerry Beth), and Mother Teresa. Yes, when I was thirteen, I trick-or-treated as a nun. My mother worked at a church, so my little sister and I had to come up with costumes based on what we could find in the acolyte room. My childhood friend, Christina, went as Dolly Parton that year–we were quite the pair.

All that is to say that I love candy. I have no problem going through someone else’s haul to steal all of the Twix bars and Reese’s Cups. I especially dig candy corn and those little mallow creme pumpkins. I’ve scoured the shelves of the Target Halloween aisle four times in four weeks, and have eaten more sugar than I care to admit. And I’ve finally found a way to get even candy corn-haters to enjoy the stuff–baking it into what I call “platinum” blondies. I’ve figured out that it’s the texture of candy corn that grosses out so many people. And it makes sense–it’s chalky, chewy, and overly sweet, gets stuck in your teeth, and tastes nothing like the “real honey” advertised on the bag. By baking it though, it melts and mellows, ceases to be chalky and gets extra chewy. Combine that with a soft and chewy sugar-cookie-meets-brownie bar, some sprinkles (because sprinkles!) and a vanilla glaze, and you’ve got the perfect no-mixer-needed treat for your Halloween celebration.

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These platinum blondies are so, so simple. They start with melting butter and combining it with regular granulated sugar. Whereas most blondie recipes use brown sugar and are therefore a golden brown color, these remain a pale yellow–platinum, if you will. Next come two large eggs, plus a yolk. The extra egg yolk is needed to make up for the moisture lost by not using brown sugar. Then comes a hefty amount of vanilla and just a touch of imitation butter extract. Yes, imitation butter extract sounds gnarly, but it gives these bars a Funfetti cake mix flavor without actually having to use cake mix. If you don’t have any, or just aren’t into it, you can leave it out without the final product suffering. Next we fold in the flour and salt, followed by the candy corn and sprinkles. Then we spread the batter in a prepared pan and bake at 350F for half an hour. The cooled blondies are sliced and drizzled with a simple vanilla glaze, then topped with more sprinkles (because more sprinkles!) and candy corn. Yum!

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies are the perfect dessert for your Halloween celebration this year. Whether you are attending a party, wandering your neighborhood with your children, or ignoring all of it at home with your favorite person and your Netflix account, you’ll love these blondies! Happy Halloween, indeed.

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies
makes one 9×13″ pan, about 30 blondies

Platinum Blondies:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon imitation butter extract, optional
2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1 cup candy corn
1/2 cup sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)*

Vanilla Glaze:
5-6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
additional sprinkles, for decorating*
additional candy corn, for decorating

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13″ pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhand on the short ends of the pan. Grease the aluminum foil. Set prepared pan aside.

Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave. Let cool slightly.

Pour sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and whisk until combined. Add in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, incorporating completely after each addition. Whisk in vanilla and optional imitation butter extract.

Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold the all purpose flour and salt into the butter & sugar mixture. Gently fold in the candy corn and sprinkles. Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter three or four times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let blondies cool in the pan for thirty minutes, then use the foil overhang to remove them to a rack to cool completely (about an hour). Once they are cool, peel off the foil and cut into 30 pieces.

Place cooling rack over a piece of wax paper to collect drips. Place blondies back on the rack.

In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream and vanilla. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt until smooth. Using a squeeze bottle or a fork, drizzle glaze over blondies. Decorate with additional sprinkles and candy corn. Let glaze dry for an hour or two, until it is no longer shiny and is a little bit hardened, before packing into an airtight container for storage. These keep well covered at room temperature for up to three days.

Notes:

  1. Please use jimmies here. Non-pareils (the little round ball sprinkles) are not recommended for the batter as they will bleed their color.
  2. Non-pareils or jimmies are a good choice here.