Sweet Sunday: How to Make Mellowcreme Pumpkins
It’s possible that the idea of how to make Halloween treats such as mellowcreme pumpkins at home has never crossed your mind. For many, Halloween candy is something you buy rather than something you make. But it’s time to change that, because you’re missing out on a fun cooking project and a sensational taste experience.
Ingredient-wise, mellowcreme pumpkins are basically the same confection as candy corn. But the thicker shape gives them a chewy, unique texture that makes it a different experience entirely than candy corn. Ask any mellowcreme pumpkin lover. They’ll tell you.
These homemade mellowcreme pumpkins are every bit as sweet as the store-bought variety, but the overall experience is different. They are far fresher and creamier in texture, and with a deeper and more well rounded flavor owing to using salted butter, which seems to counter the intense sweetness just a touch.
They also make a stunning addition to your Halloween cake decorating, too. Your friends will be so impressed when they learn that not only the cake but also the pumpkins are homemade.
Homemade mellowcreme pumpkins recipe
Makes at least 50 pumpkins
Note: You know those easy, forgiving recipes that always seem to come out right, even if you fudge a step or two? Sorry, but this isn’t one. It’s not a difficult recipe, but you’ve got to stay on the ball and follow the measurements and instructions carefully. In particular, you want to work quickly after you’ve formed and colored the candy dough. It will begin to firm rapidly as it cools, and will not be as easy to shape. So just take a few deep breaths and you’ll be fine.
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup powdered milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/3 cup salted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Red, yellow, and green food coloring
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the sifted confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk together. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter over high heat, stirring frequently until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, stir in the vanilla, and continue stirring frequently for 5 minutes. The mixture will begin to reduce and thicken.
Remove from heat. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar bit by bit, stirring after each addition, until it has all been incorporated into the wet mixture.
You can either leave the dough in the saucepan, or turn it out into a bowl sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, just until it is cool enough to be handled. You don’t want to let the dough sit too long, as it will become hard.
Divide the dough into two bowls so that you have 9/10 of the dough in one bowl and 1/10 in another bowl. Mix the larger mound of dough with about 2 drops of red food coloring and about 5 drops of yellow food coloring to make orange.
Work the dough until it is streak-free, adding in more coloring if desired. Use gloves to protect your hands, or prepare a story to tell your friends why your hands have red and yellow streaks on them.
Since the dough is pretty thick, with a consistency like marzipan, it may need some working to get the dye incorporated.
Mix the smaller mound of dough with 1-2 drops of green food coloring, mixing until it is streak-free. Use different gloves, if using, to mix the dough — you don’t want any bits of red or yellow getting into the mix.
Cover both bowls with plastic, and re-cover between using to keep them as moist as possible.
Take a deep breath, because now you’re going to want to work slightly fast, as the dough will become more difficult to work with as it cools. Break off a piece of the orange dough, and shape it into a small ball, about the size of a large marble. Then, roll it lightly so that it’s slightly elongated but still rounded on either end.
Next, press one end lightly into a work surface to flatten it, taking care to maintain a dome shape. The orange dough will look sort of like a gumdrop at this point.
Now, draw lines down the sides to get a nice pumpkin shape. You can do this either with a toothpick, or by gently drawing the flat side of a butter knife along the edge (this keeps things smooth and prevents a jagged edge). Repeat all around the pumpkin.
Now, pinch off a small piece of the green dough and form it into a small cone. Place it on top of the pumpkin, and finesse the stem into a little point or flatten it slightly, depending on your desired look.
Repeat with the remaining dough until you’ve used it all. Let the pumpkins set for about 2 hours. They will keep for at least a few weeks if kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
You may be wondering, can I use this recipe to make candy corn instead?
If your loyalty is to candy corn, the same recipe can be used, but you’ll assemble the candies a bit differently. Follow Step 1 through 5, but then follow these steps.
Divide the dough into as many sections as you’d like to create colored segments for your finished candy, and place them in small separate bowls. Mix each mound of dough with food coloring until the color is consistent and streak-free. (You might want to wear gloves to ensure that you don’t stain your hands.)
On top of a sheet of waxed or parchment paper, roll out each color of dough into a long, thin rope. The thinner the rope, the smaller that segment of color will be in your finished candy. An easy-to-handle size is three ropes, about 12″ long for each color.
Press together your ropes of dough in whatever color combination you’d like; I ended up with three separate 12″ long “lines” of colored candy. To ensure that each segment sticks together, press a second sheet of waxed or parchment paper on top and press very gently with a rolling pin or your hands.
Using a very sharp knife, cut dough into triangle segments. Keep a damp, clean cloth nearby to wipe off the knife should it get sticky.
Let the finished kernels set for an hour or two before serving.