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We’re starting a new series here on Bipeds & Brutes: Monday DIY, where we’ll feature animal-friendly recipes, crafts, and other fun stuff you can do and make at home yourself! Today being Halloween, it’s only appropriate that we start off with a recipe for a homemade, animal product-free version of a popular sugary sweet.
This recipe for Vegan Lemon Candy Corn comes to us from DJ Karma over at VegSpinz. She has graciously given us permission to reprint her excellent home-crafted adaptation of this Halloween favorite which dates back to the 1880s. Although the conventional candy corn you get at the store contains honey, egg whites, and various and sundry food dyes, this version is free of animal products and artificial coloring, and can be made any flavor you want!
Note: To make traditional vanilla-flavored candy corn, just omit the lemon. Experiment with other extracts to make variations of your own.
1/4 cup Earth Balance Margarine*
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup soymilk powder
1/4 tsp salt
Yellow: 1/4 tsp tumeric
Orange: 1/4 tsp tumeric + 2 tsp beet juice (from canned beets)
You can make these any size you like, and if you get tired of making candy corn, it makes a good fondant for cupcakes or to make other shapes (a lot like playdoh).
*These turned out a little on the soft side, so next time I might reduce the amount of margarine. For fondant, it’s perfect.
I’m pretty sure this makes over a pound of candy — pretty time consuming by yourself, so make it a fun project to do with friends or kids!
Sift together the powdered sugar, soymilk powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Heat margarine, sugar, brown rice syrup, extracts, and lemon juice in a saucepan, and stir until boiling and frothy.
Take saucepan off the heat, and add the dry mixture until well incorporated (a few lumps are ok).
Using separate bowls, divide the mixture into half, then divide one of the halves into half (to make three dough balls, one twice as large as the others). Note: You can make equal parts if you like, but you’ll need to adjust the coloring. Into the large dough ball, add the beet juice and tumeric to make it orange. It won’t be bright orange, so if you want more vibrant color, add food coloring if you must. Also add 1-2 Tbsp of additional powdered sugar. To one of the smaller dough balls, add tumeric to make it yellow (don’t worry, you won’t taste any of these). When cooled enough to handle, knead each one until smooth and color is even. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little powdered sugar, but not so much that it won’t stick at all. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.
Now you’re ready to roll! Spread a VERY light layer of powdered sugar onto your flat work surface. Make ropes of equal thickness of the white and yellow, and a larger rope of the orange (for the middle). Press the ropes together gently, then lightly roll the top with a rolling pin to flatten a bit and to further press together. Then cut into triangles as shown above.
Finally, mold corners with fingers if desired. Place them in a single layer on parchment or wax paper, and let dry. DO NOT pile them up until they’re dry, or they will stick together! These were deliciously lemony, with a good chewy texture and shiny outer shell.
That’s all there is to it! Thanks again to DJ Karma of VegSpinz for allowing us to share her awesome recipe. We hope you all have a happy, safe, and animal-friendly Halloween! If you’ve got a vegan recipe, craft, or do-at-home project you’d like to see on the Monday DIY, feel free to email email@example.com.
For most of us, Halloween is the only time of the year when we actually encourage our children to knock on strangers’ doors and beg for candy. With the month of October driving our consumption of chocolate and sugar to dizzying new heights, it can be easy to forget that even if a certain treat is free of vegan no-nos like dairy, eggs, gelatin, and honey, that doesn’t mean its production was necessarily harm-free to animals. The increasing demand in particular for palm oil, a cholesterol-free vegetable fat derived from the fruit of palm trees, has led to widespread habitat destruction and is a major contributing factor in the mounting threat of extinction for endangered orangutans.
Due to recent climbing health concerns over trans fats in food, over 33 million metric tons of low-cost palm oil are produced yearly in Indonesia and Malaysia. It has become the world’s most widely-produced edible oil. In order to grow the crop, millions of acres of forest have to be cleared and burned to make way for agricultural palm trees. The vast majority of these plantations are in Borneo and Sumatra – which just so happen to be the only two places in the world where wild orangutans still reside. A devastating fire caused by an overzealous peat-clearing attempt in 1997 wiped out 8,000 wild orangutans in Borneo alone. Furthermore, the ever-expanding plantations are pushing this species to the very brink of extinction. If sustainable methods aren’t adopted, scientists estimate that orangutans will go extinct in ten to fifteen years.
It can be nearly impossible to avoid palm oil; it’s present in everything from sweet and salty snacks to frozen meals to cosmetics. It’s even being tested as an alternative fuel for automobiles. But there are many ways you can send a message to palm oil companies to increase the sustainability of their crops. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Palm Oil Awareness page is chock full of resources, consumer shopping guides, and ideas on how to help end the palm oil crisis and save orangutans from further decimation. You can make a difference for wild orangutans – Cheyenne Mountain will show you how.
“Well, great,” you may be thinking. “Here I was, all excited to stuff my face with candy this October 31st, and you’ve gone and ruined my plans with the sad plight of orangutans in Borneo.” Never fear! Cheyenne Mountain has you covered there, too. Check out their awesome Orangutan-Friendly Halloween Candy Guide (PDF) to learn the good news: due to environmentalist pressures, many companies have joined the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), making the commitment to only use oil which is certified sustainable. Chances are, most of your favorite candies are on the list, including Snickers, Twix, Butterfingers, M&M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Skittles. Now that should make for a Happy Halloween indeed!
For more information on making ethical candy choices this Halloween, check out the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List, which highlights vegan candy bars sourced from slavery-free areas.