All Hallows Eats Transcript

The Kitchen

    Halloween has always been 'the' Brown family holiday. I'm proud to say that no member of my clan has ever handed out a store-bought candy to a trick-or-treater. Ever.

Front Porch

    In fact, each year, when the black cats hiss and the goblins gobble, we Browns crack open the ancient codex of All Hallows Eve treats, and get to cooking. Sometimes, it's Great Aunt Gertie's mad dog fizzles, or Grandpap Oswald's gummy worms with real worms. Flipping back in time, what do we got? Oooh, horehound candy. Very nice. Fire ant brittles and jawbreakers, toffees, taffies, fuzzles, and fudges, pralines, and puffs of every shape and flavor. You can bet if it's ever graced the bottom of a plastic pumpkin bucket, it is in here. Furthermore, you can bet that it is a surefire form of magically mischievous ...


[Good Eats theme plays]

Front Porch

    [still reading the book] Ah! Here's the one I was looking for. In 1869, my Great Great Grand Uncle Tobias went to work for the Gerlitz brothers of Germany who had recently set up a candy shop in Belleville, Illinois. Now this was a very talented candy family, and they invented a lot of different confections, including a nearly fat-free smooth chewy candy that they called the mellowcreme. Which can take many, many forms, one of which is a Halloween classic to this day.
    Now I have my uncle's version of it right here. And all I can say is, well, it's as much fun to make as it is to eat.

The Kitchen

    Like all the Brown candies, this begins with a cooked mixture of sugar, corn syrup, and water. In this case, 3.5 ounces of the first, 3.75 ounces of the second, 2.5 tablespoons of the third, cooked to the thread stage. Ahh.

Corn Syrup

    Now lots of older recipesor receipts, as they used to be calledrefer to candy stages, which rely on the behavior of hot syrup dropped into cold water in order to ascertain the sugar concentration of that syrup. Now the stages are: thread, soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, soft crack, hard crack, and caramel, which we will not be dealing with today. Now softer candies come from these stages [thread through firm ball], and harder candies came from down here [hard ball through caramel].


    Luckily, temperature is also a way of ascertaining the required data. [showing a table of temperatures for the various candy stages] Now we are going to cook our mellowcremes to 230 degrees, which means they'll still contain roughly 20% water, and therefore will be quite soft, and chewy, and delicious.


    Okay, uncle's recipe calls for a two-quart saucepan, and that's ... [realizes that we, the viewers, cannot follow along with the Brown family recipe book] Oh, I'm, I'm sorry. You have to be a Brown to see this. If you can see this at home, send me a card or letter. We're probably cousins. Anyway, the reason that we want something as small as two quarts is because whenever you're dealing with a syrup, you want to use a narrow vessel to help concentrate all the energy into one place.

    So here we go: sugar, water, corn syrup. There we go. Heat. I don't want to take a chance of anything burning, so I'm just going to go with medium. Lid goes on, and we'll let that cook for four minutes just to make sure the solids are dissolved. 3 Ounces Sugar
2 Tbs. Water
3 Ounces Light Corn Syrup

    Now you're probably wondering about the corn syrup. Come here.

    Let's say this is a sucrose molecule [3 pieces of a Tinker Toy model], and these are sucrose molecules dissolved in water. Now as the water boils in our syrup, the sucroses crowd together. If they group tightly enough, they'll join together in a uniform pattern. In other words, they will crystallize.


    Now if this happens, your syrup will basically turn into a big pretty rock, sitting in a puddle of water. Let's try again.

    This time, we'll add some different sugar molecules to the mixture: corn syrup, which is high in fructose. Now when the molecules get crowded together, the fructose gets in the way of the sucrose hookup. Try and try though they might, these molecules will simply never make a crystal, and that is good news for us.


    All right. All right, as you can see, the ... Sorry. [snaps his fingers and a reflecting mirror shows us what is happening] As you can see, the solids have dissolved and a syrup is born. Now at this point, we're going to add two tablespoons of butter, that's one ounce, unsalted, if you please, to the syrup. Now the fat is going to give the candy a creamy texture. It's also going to provide further crystallization protection. 2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter, Room

    All right, now it is time to clamp on a thermometer. And I realize that you've got plenty of thermometers to choose from. I do, as well, but I like an old-school analog model, because you can see the acceleration of the temperature, so you know how fast you're getting where you're going, and that's helpful. Where are we going? 230 degrees. And it's going to take us, I'm going to say, a minute and a half to get there. So we will tend to the remaining software.
    [at the pantry] Here's where things are going to get a little bit interesting. All right, we are going to be adding four and a half ounces by weight of powdered sugar to our candy. I mean, yes, there's already, you know, plenty of sugar in there. But we could use a little bit more. And we also need the cornstarch that is packaged in powdered sugar as a desiccant. Essentially, it is going to absorb moisture and make our syrup more like a paste, which is exactly what we want.
    We're also going to add half an ounce by weight of nonfat dry milk. Now what does this tell us? Well, it tells me that whatever we're making is going to be chewy. How do we know? Because, besides milk sugars, dry milk contains a good deal of milk protein. Now these proteins can absorb liquid and coagulate into a gel kind of, well, kind of like gelatin, all right? Now in the case of milk proteins, this happens in the presence of enzymes and acids, like the ones that are found, albeit in small amounts, in corn syrup ... like the corn syrup that our candy already contains. Coincidence? I don't believe in them.

    [at the countertop] So four and a half ounces by weight of powdered sugar go into your food processor, along with half an ounce of nonfat dried milk, and a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt. And just give that a spin to break up the clumps and lumps in the powdered sugar. And when the dust clears, move directly to the syrup. 4 Ounces Powdered Sugar
Ounce Non-Fat Dry Milk
tsp. Kosher Salt
    [back at the stovetop] Right, as you can see ... Oh, sorry. [magnifying glass rotates in] As you can see, we are at 230 degrees. So we kill the heat, remove thermal management. Going to add half a teaspoon of vanilla. There will be a little bubbling. That's okay. tsp. Vanilla Extract

    And dump in all of the dry goods. Now just stir to combine, And make sure you use a rubber or silicone spatula for the job, because this stuff is sticky. When thoroughly combined, dump out onto either a piece of parchment or a silicone-impregnated mat, and cool for 15 minutes.

Over 85% of US homes hand out candy on All Hallows Eve.

The Kitchen

    Next up, we require food coloring, both yellow and orange. Now there are, believe it or not, options. Besides the usual liquid stuff you get at the mega mart, there are also gel pastes, plain old gels, and dry food colorings, which are very powerful. Now I'm going to use paste for this application, because they're concentrated, vibrant, and easy to homogenize into thick mixtures like our dough. Now don't be surprised if you don't see these at the old mega mart. But they're easily obtainable at cake decorating stores and, of course, on the World Wide Web.

    All right, time for the fun part, fabrication. Take your disc, roll it out, and then divide into three even pieces. Just use a dough cutter or board scraper for that. There. Now each one of these pieces, you're going to flatten and color in one form or another. Here we have two drops of the yellow food dye going on. I'm just going to fold that up almost like a wallet to incorporate it. And then when the dye is really worked in, you can kind of knead it in your hands almost like Play-Doh. And then roll it out the length of your mat. I'm going to say about 18 inches, split that in half, and set aside. 2-3 Drops Yellow Gel Paste
    Treat the second piece in a similar fashion, except with two to three drops of the orange food coloring. Fold it over several times to incorporate, and knead until the color is nice and even. There you go. Eighteen inches, split in half. Good. 2-3 Drops Orange Gel Paste

    The last piece doesn't get any color, but it is rolled and split, so you've got six pieces all day.
    Now take one of the white pieces, roll it out until it's about half an inch thick and about 22 inches long. Repeat with the yellow, and, finally, repeat with an orange. Are you getting this? Have you got it figured out yet? I bet you do. Now you're going to stick the pieces together and trim off the ends. They'll be delicious. You can eat them later. Then cut your snake into four-inch pieces. There.
    Now get your silicone mat back, and lay out each piece, and then kind of squeeze it up against a metal ruler. I actually like to use the silicone mat itself to get a good cohesive wedge shape. That's what you want. There, everything's really good and stuck together. Now why did I say four inches in length? Because that's how wide my old-fashioned butter cutter is, and that's how you make your individual candies. Now you know what this is, right, at least if you grew up in the '60s and '70s? That's right. It's homemade delicious candy corn. Yum. There.
    I realize there are a few of you out there who think that candy corn is gross, but that's because the candy corn you've had is made of cornstarch and wax. Trust me, this is the good stuff. Allow them to dry, an hour, hour and a half, and then bag, tag, and toss into the sacks of grateful ghouls and goblins everywhere. You know, you can make this stuff up to a week in advance. I think it makes it even better. And it's interesting to note that this paste can actually be made into many other shapes, but that's another show. [bites into a big piece shaped like a human hand and growls]

October 30th is National Candy Corn Day.

    And so we have witnessed how a sugar syrup can become a soft, yet toothsome paste. Now you will witness what can happen when the temperature is elevated, and the resulting elixir applied to the most symbolic food of the harvest season going back to the Celts. That's right, we're going to make candy apples, with a devilish Brown family twist.
    [at the stovetop] Start by placing three inches of water in a four-quart saucepan. Bring that to a boil over high heat.

    Then we build a syrup in a two-quart saucepan over medium heat. Now this will be almost identical to the first syrup, but with different proportions. Fifteen ounces by weight of light corn syrup goes in, followed by 14 ounces, again, by weightit's easier that wayof just regular old granulated sugar. Then two-thirds of a cup of water, and we're going to clamp on the lid and bring that to a boil before attaching our thermometer and making the ascent to our final target temperature. 15 Ounces Light Corn Syrup
14 Ounces Sugar
2/3 Cub Water

    And since we're looking for a very hard, amorphous candy coating, that temperature will be quite high compared to our last venture, 300 degrees, in fact. Shouldn't take more than about 15 minutes to get there. Meanwhile, apples.
    Unless you happen to be an anaconda, it's pretty tough to eat a candy apple made with modern red apples. We just grow them big and red in this country. Which is why I like smaller, more old-fashioned varieties such as Macouns, Macintoshes, and my favorite, Pink ladies.
    I imagine that the original candy apples were just stuck on sticks off of trees, and then later popsicle sticks, which I don't have. What I do have are plenty of pairs of disposable chopsticks from, you know, years of takeout. They actually make better handles, because they are more stable. Give you more to hold on to. And, of course, once the apple's gone, you can still use the chopsticks. It's like Christmas in October.
    [back at the stove] Right, by this time, the syrup should be thoroughly dissolved and boiling, so we will apply thermal management, meaning a thermometer, and shoot for that 300 degrees we need.

    Meanwhile, we can prep the apples. The stems need to go, so just twist those out. Now most candy apples are made by pushing the stick into the top of the apple. I think that's actually harder to eat. I like to go up into the blossom end. That puts the bigger curve at the top. Makes for a prettier final piece. 6 Small Apples
    So once you have all of the sticks in their respective apples, we move back to the boiling water. Now they need to be dunked in for 15 to 20 seconds. Why? Because, believe it or not, they're covered with a wax. Carnauba wax, a food-grade wax which is applied to many, many fruits, including apples, in a very, very thin coat, in order to make them shiny and to keep them from losing moisture. [demonstrates with a home-made batch, which leaves a very thick coating of wax on an apple] A lot thinner than this. Don't worry. But it's harmless. It's still got to go, or else the candy won't stick, so after 15 to 20 seconds, remove the apples and allow them to dry thoroughly before continuing.

Carnuba Wax
Edible But Not Tasty

William Kolb, a New Jersey candy maker, produced his first batch of candied apples in 1908.

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Children
              U.S. Government Agents #1 & #2

    [at the pantry] Traditionally, candy apples are bright candy-apple red, courtesy of anywhere from 15 to 20 drops of red liquid food coloring, which is definitely the tool for this particular job. Now red food dyes concern some parents, because it's widely thought that they can cause this.

[closes the pantry doors, and then opens them to show hyperactive children in the background. repeats and children are no longer there]

    Perhaps a little color clarity would be useful here. The United States government recognizes two categories of pigment.

US AGENT: Color Additives Approved for Use in Human Food, Part 73, Subpart A, Color Additives Exempt From Batch Certification ...

    That is food colorants based on natural substances, like annatto seed, beta-carotene, grape skin extracts, paprika, and the like.

US AGENT: ... and "Color Additives Approved for Use in Human Food", Part 74, Subpart A, Color Additives Subject to Batch Certification ...

    Also referred to as food, drug, and cosmetic, or FD&C colors. That is the seven big artificial colors.

US AGENT: ... red number 3, red number 40, yellow number 5, yellow number 6, blue number 1, blue number 2, green number 3, and orange B. The manufacturing of these colors is highly regulated by the batch, in fact.

    Although the federal government insists that FD&C dyes are safe ...

US AGENT: [with an evil grin] Totally safe. Mm-hmm.

...there is some research that suggests some food dyes, especially reds, can, in fact, cause ... [repeats door open/close revealing hyperactive children]
    Look, if you're really concerned, just skip the food coloring. After all, apples, already pretty much red. But keep in mind, if you really want to get all the food dyes out of your life, you're going to have to wean yourself off of about 50,000 other manufactured foods to do it.

    Now ever since, well, forever, pretty much, cinnamon has been the candy apple coating flavor of choice. I do not like ground cinnamon in this, because it's gritty, so I am going to use half a teaspoon of cinnamon oil, which is potent stuff. And, of course, there's the Brown family modification, which comes in the form of cayenne pepper. That'll teach the little jackals to roll my yard. Cinnamon Oil
    [at the stovetop] All right, we're at 300 degrees on the syrup. So kill the heat and remove the thermometer. Time to get the rest of the ingredients in. I'm going to go easy on the kids this year and just use a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can use your discretion on that. One-half teaspoon of the cinnamon oil, and then the colorant. I'm going to use anywhere from 15 to 20 drops if you want them really bright red. And since there is a good bit of water in there, it will bubble up even though the heat has been turned off. Stir thoroughly to combine, and then let it cool down until it is not bubbly anymore. 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
tsp. Cinnamon Oil
15-20 Drops Red Food

    Then time to dip apples. And you kind of need to go quickly here so things don't set up. Just dip in, and I like to kind of tilt the saucepan to coat. Then pull the apple up and spin it. Spin it until there's no more syrup dripping off. There you go. That way, the pool won't be too big on the bottom. You don't want a big disc on the bottom of the apple. There you go. It should take about two minutes all total, well, for six apples, at least.
    One point two [1.2] mil cellowrap, available at craft stores, makes the perfect wrapping for our jewel-like beauties. But if it's unseasonably warm or humid where you live, you would want a piece of wax paper in between apple and plastic. Just look at that. Beautiful, and dangerously delicious. Trick or treat, indeed.
    Having harvested the soft and hard side of sugar syrup's nature, it's time to get nasty. Dark, sticky, nasty, with cousin Axle's popcorn balls with, of course, the patented Brown family trick deep inside.

    Again, we will build a syrup, but with a twist this time. So seven and a half ounces by weight of corn syrup goes into a larger saucepan this time, say, three and one-half to four quarts. Then molasses, four and a quarter ounces by weight of dark, mysterious, and ever-so-slightly bitter molasses. We'll also add sugar. As usual, this is seven ounces by weight. Some salt, which I always like in sweets, one teaspoon here. And then vanilla extract, to the tune of one teaspoon, give or take. Last up, one-third of a cup of water. I'm going to put that to medium heat and cover to dissolve. 7 Ounces Light Corn Syrup
4 Ounces Molasses
7 Ounces Surgar
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Water

Samhain was a sacred festival held by Celtic
cultures to celebrate summer's end.

The Kitchen

    After two to three minutes, our syrup should be at a boil. Time to apply thermal management. Again, our thermometer goes on. There. Now we are looking to attain 250 degrees.
    Two hundred and fifty degrees is, of course, right between the firm ball and hard ball stages. What does that mean, kids? It means you little ghosties and goblins can kiss your molars good-bye.

    All right, whip up one batch of Good Eats perfect popcorn. You can get that recipe at It makes about three and one-half to four quarts. To that, I'm going to add a quarter of a cup of cocoa nibs. That's the stuff that chocolate is made out of. You can get it in most mega marts and, of course, online these days. It's completely optional, but nice. 1 Batch Good Eats Perfect
Cup Cocoa Nibs
    Now when you reach 250 degrees, of course, the thermometer comes out. And the syrup immediately goes onto the popcorn. Do not hesitate, or it will set up. Stir very, very quickly with your biggest spatula to get it mixed in as it slowly starts to set.

Caution HOT Syrup!

    All right, when it comes time to form, butter up your hands, as well as a three-inch-diameter disher or scoop, because this stuff is sticky like you just don't know. Get yourself a big scoop into your hands, and lightly mold into a ball. Do not compress it, or it will be so dense, no one would ever be able to eat it. Let that dry thoroughly on parchment paper.
    Ooh! I almost forgot the Brown family variation. Just scoop, and instead of making a ball, kind of flatten it out, and insert [chuckles evilly] a cooked Brussels sprout. I'll make sure the little beasties get their vegetables.
    Once cool, wrap in just plain old plastic wrap, or the same cello-film as the apples, and wait for the fun. They're so sticky, it takes about an hour to eat even one, and you ... [knock at the door] What is that? The door? Oh, goodie!

Front Door

GUESTS: Four trick-or-treaters

ALL: Trick or treat!
AB: Oooh, what scary little cretins we have here! Oh, I've got something for you, and here are a few of these for you, a little something for you, and, oh, I've got something extra special for you.
All: Thank you!
AB: You're welcome. You're welcome. Off you go. Off of my property. That's right. There you go. Off you go.

    Now let's see. If my calculations are correct, I give it ... [looks at his watch, and counts down silently. A girl screams] See you next Halloween on Good Eats. [laughs evilly]

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 09/28/2011