It’s candy corn time!

Liz West/Wikimedia Commons Fresh candy corn is abundant on store shelves this time of year, ready for snacking or baking. One of the first things I look for when grocery shopping this time of year is candy corn. I try not to overdo it when eating this candy, but I do enjoy a small handful now and then. It is fun to look for recipes that use candy corn, so it is my hope you have a chance to try at least one of the following. A couple of them do not lend themselves well to distractions, so it is best to save those for a day when things are quiet. Kind of hard to do if you have small children. I just spent three weeks with my two-year-old granddaughter so I understand how things are. The two recipes are the peanut butter bars and the candy corn cookies. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful fall season. Candy corn peanut butter bars 3 cups candy corn 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (smooth; not natural variety) 12 ounces chocolate candy coating 1. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place the candy corn in a large microwave-safe bowl. 2. Microwave the candy corn for one minute, then stir as it starts to melt. Continue to microwave the corn in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Cook the candy corn until it is completely melted and smooth, but be careful not to overheat it or it can stiffen up. 3. Add the peanut butter to the melted candy corn and stir it in until it is completely blended in. If you have trouble combining them, microwave the candy briefly (for 10 to 15 seconds at a time) just until it’s warm enough to be easily mixed. 4. Scrape the candy out into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. While it is still warm, use a knife or pizza cutter to score it into small bars, 1 inch across and 4 inches long. You should get about 16 small bars from one batch, but you can always make them larger or smaller as desired. Let the candy cool completely. 5. Once cool, break or cut the bars apart along the scored lines. Melt the chocolate candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring frequently until it is melted and smooth. 6. Use forks or dipping tools to dip the bars completely in the coating. Once a bar has been dipped, hold it over the bowl to let the excess drip back down into the bowl. Place a dipped bar on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat until all of the bars are dipped. Let them set completely at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving. 7. When served at room temperature, the bars have a slight chew to them, but when refrigerated they are perfectly crispy and crunchy. Store candy corn peanut butter bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Candy corn pumpkin spice popcorn balls 5 tablespoons salted butter 1 pound Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ginger (powdered, not fresh) 1/8 teaspoon cloves 12 cups popped popcorn, unpopped kernals removed 1 1/4 cups candy corn 1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and the marshmallows, stirring with a buttered wooden spoon constantly to combine. When the marshmallows are melted add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and mix thoroughly. 2. In a large bowl, toss together the popcorn and candy corn. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir to combine, making sure to coat all the popcorn and candy. 3. Using buttered hands, form the popcorn into baseball-sized balls and place on waxed paper until firm. 4. Store in an airtight container for up to two days. (They do become a little stale after that.) Makes about 10 popcorn balls. Candy corn white chocolate pretzels The amount of ingredients in this recipe depends on how many pretzel bites you wish to make. Use one Hershey’s White Chocolate Hug and one piece of candy corn for each pretzel. Square, waffle-shaped pretzels Hershey’s White Chocolate Hugs Candy corn 1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 2. Put pretzels on lined cookie sheet. Set an unwrapped Hershey’s Hug on top of each pretzel. 3. Bake in preheated oven for 4 to 6 minutes until softened (Note: Hugs soften quickly, so keep an eye on them). Remove from oven and immediately press a candy corn into the center of each Hug. 4. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then place cookie sheet in refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes or as long as overnight. White chocolate candy corn cookies These are soft cookies, not crisp ones. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 tablespoon vanilla 2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon baking soda Pinch of salt, optional 1 1/2 cups candy corn (10 to 11 ounces) 1 cup white chocolate chips 1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the first 5 ingredients (through vanilla) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 2. Stop, scrape down the sides of bowl, and add the next 5 ingredients (through optional salt), and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute; don’t overmix. 3. Add the candy corn and white chocolate chips and mix until just incorporated. 4. Important note — Strategically place candy corn so that it’s not baking directly on cookie sheet because it will melt, burn, or turn runny if it is. The candy corn pieces need to be in the interior of the cookies, shielded and buffered by dough. Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two-tablespoon mounds (about 20). Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter. 5. Preheat oven to 350, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (about 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly pale and glossy in the center. Do not overbake, because cookies will firm up as they cool. Baking longer than 10 minutes could result in cookies with overly browned undersides. 6. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish setting. 7. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.