Chow Bella

DIY Vegetable Candy: Is It a Trick or a Treat?

Photo by Dayvid LeMmon

​Happy Halloween - the holiday of candy! Candy is traditionally flavored with fruit, nuts, chocolate, spices, and lots of sugar. But, often overlooked, candy can also be made from vegetables. Vegetables contain natural sugars, so if they make a great addition to the dinner table, why not eat them for dessert, too?

Hence, the Halloween edition of Chow Bella's Meatless Monday.  

Find out which veggie candy we made after the jump.

Some vegetables seem like a great fit for candies. Ginger, for example, is a root vegetable that flavors cookies and cakes, and it is delicious when crystallized. In that same fashion, candy can be made from parsnips, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes. To make candy using the crystallization method, boil the ingredient in sugar syrup until the liquid evaporates and the sugar starts to form on the edge of the pan. Then, set out the crystallized pieces to dry overnight. Voila, candy!

There are other ways to make candy from vegetables, and these Sweet Potato Bon-Bons look tasty with apricots, coconut, and pecans. For the more adventurous candymakers, check out Candy-making Revolutionized: Confectionery from Vegetables by Mary Elizabeth Hall. This classic cookbook from 1912 is available as a free Google eBook, and it offers recipes for bean taffy, spiced beet bon-bons, onion cold tablets, and even tomato marshmallows (yes, we know they're a fruit, but that is still weird). You could also try to recreate these legendary candies, including parsnip nougat and turnip fudge, using some fun experimentation.

Or do what we did -- and make Mashed Potato Candy. This is a traditional American treat popular with the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch.This candy can easily be made vegan by substituting soy or almond milk and by leaving butter out of the mashed potatoes. This is a surprisingly easy candy to make - no real cooking or candy thermometers required. There are quite a few recipes available online. This one has very clear assembly instructions but uses instant potato flakes, and this is the recipe used for the batch shown here.

Exact measurements are unnecessary. Here are the foolproof steps:

1) Take a small amount of mashed potatoes (1/4 to 1/3 cup) and mix with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of milk, and a dash of salt.
2) Add lots and lots of powdered sugar (approximately 1 lb.) until the mixture feels like a dough. Add enough sugar so that it is no longer sticky. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
3) Roll out the dough into a thin rectangular shape. Have lots of powdered sugar on hand for this process. Coat the surface you're rolling on, and continually powder the top with sugar as you roll.
4) Spread with creamy peanut butter.
5) Roll into a log and then slice into pinwheel candies.

It's really that easy to make candy from vegetables. Although we admit ours don't look so much like pinwheels, they taste amazing. With this recipe, the potato flavor is masked with the sugar and peanut butter so kids won't even know the secret ingredient.

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Dominique Chatterjee