Candy Construction

How to Build Race Cars, Castles, and Other Cool Stuff out of Store-Bought Candy


By Sharon Bowers

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Build a candy fantasy! Use ordinary store-bought candy and cookies as the raw material for a brand-new kind of crafting, where castles are made with wafer-cookie walls and race cars have Oreos for wheels. Sharon Bowers provides step-by-step instructions for dozens of whimsical and fun projects that will have you seeing candy in a whole new way. From licorice pirates and centipedes made from Life Savers to marshmallow aliens and candy bento boxes, the sweet possibilities are endless.


Milk Chocolate Mortar

This makes a gently flavored, pale chocolate frosting that’s even milder if you use Dutch-process cocoa. For sticking power, you may want to make the mortar without any added liquid and stir it in a few teaspoons at a time, if needed.


What You’ll Need

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 cups confectioners’ sugar (a 1-pound box)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2–3 tablespoons whole milk or cream

What to Do

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and cocoa powder, beating until absorbed. If the frosting is too thick, add the milk or cream, a few teaspoons at a time, until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Dark Chocolate Mortar

To make a dark chocolate frosting with a silkier texture, replace the cocoa from the milk chocolate icing with melted chocolate chips. Melt them in the microwave on high for one minute, then stir with a fork until smooth. In the unlikely event that the chips still aren’t melted, nuke them in 10-second bursts, stirring after each. When chocolate is smooth, let it cool slightly before using.


What You’ll Need

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 cups confectioners' sugar (a 1-pound box)

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

2–3 tablespoons whole milk or cream

What to Do

1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating until absorbed.

2. Stir in melted chocolate until well blended. If the frosting is too thick, add the milk or cream, a few teaspoons at a time, until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Royal Icing Glue

This egg-white-based icing is often used to “flood” cookie surfaces for decorating. It’s highly liquid when wet, then dries to a firm, glossy finish. Used sparingly, it makes a great glue that dries hard and strong (well, compared to butter-cream), making it the “cement” of candy construction.


What You’ll Need

1 egg white*

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

* There is a slight risk of Salmonella or other foodborne illness when using raw eggs. If you are concerned, you can use pasteurized egg white or 2 teaspoons of powdered egg white mixed with 2 tablespoons water in place of the raw egg white.

What to Do

1. With a hand mixer, beat the egg white and lemon juice until frothy. With the mixer at medium speed, gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is thick.

2. Turn the mixer to high and beat icing until the mixture is thick and glossy, about 3 minutes. Cover the surface with plastic wrap while waiting to use it.

One-Pot Brownies

A tray of these fragrant chocolate goodies may distract your crew, but that’s one of the pitfalls (and perks!) of edible architecture.


What You’ll Need

½ cup (1 stick) butter

½ cup cocoa

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

What to Do

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9" × 9" baking pan. Cut a square of parchment paper to fit, and line the bottom of the pan.

2. Melt the stick of butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, being careful not to let it sizzle or brown. Remove the pan from the heat before the entire stick has melted and whisk in the cocoa; the remaining butter will melt as you stir.

3. Beat in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until each is combined before adding the next. When fully combined, add the flour and salt and mix just to combine. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 17 minutes, until just set.

4. Cool brownies in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool.

Construction Citations

The Candy Construction Company frowns upon plumb lines and levels. We never let “perfect” crowd out “good enough” or mitigate the sheer pleasure of getting something sweet stuck together!

Preparing Your Building Site

Once the necessary permits are in place, it’s time to put down a foundation, and the base you use depends on what you’re planning to do with your project. If you’re putting the dump truck on top of a birthday cake, for example, you may want to build it on a platter covered by a sheet of waxed paper: that way, the truck won’t stick to the work surface before it’s transferred to its intended cake top. It helps to have a plate or small cutting board under some of these larger items so you can put them in the fridge or freezer for a few moments, to firm up sticky bits as you’re building.

If you’re making something smaller, such as little people or race cars, animals or arm candy, you may want to work over a sheet of waxed paper on the counter (for easier cleanup later). These small items make great individual projects for kids to do on rainy days or during play dates. You can also make them yourself and use them to top cupcakes, individual brownies, or even to place into decorative cupcake papers and give out as party favors or special snacks.

Where you need a more stable, perhaps slightly more permanent base is for building larger items such as the Checker Board, Pirate Ship, or Pyramid, where the candy forms just beg to be the centerpiece of a tableau. If you’re not putting these items on top of, for example, a sheet cake (each is just a bit too big for most round layer cakes), then put them on a large cutting board that has been covered smoothly with foil or plastic wrap. Most of the larger projects come with ideas for surrounding the finished masterpiece with appropriate décor. The Pyramid, for example, can sit in the midst of colored-sugar sand with a few candy palm trees around it — even two more pyramids to evoke the scene at Giza. The Pirate Ship can be set afloat in a sea of blue colored sugar, or you can make a fresh batch of icing, color it bright blue, and use a piping bag or a butter knife to make undulating waves all about the boat. You can even tie a jolly boat to the side or out behind the ship for good measure.

Construction Citations

Our goal is always to maintain an accident-free work site, and any safety violations should be immediately reported to the foreman by younger siblings or friends. The Candy Construction Company has had zero on-the-job accidents and we mean to keep it that way.

Stuck on You

When you’re whipping it into a tasty fluff with a mixer, butter-cream might not seem especially tacky. Nonetheless, be sure to use a thin layer when sticking parts together. A heavy dollop is much more likely to slide, but a thin layer acts as more of a weld, sticking to the sugary atoms on one side and bonding them firmly to the sugary surface on the other. When you’re attaching decorations, such as a row of M&Ms, it’s sometimes easier to pipe or spread a narrow strip of icing along the surface, and then push the candy into it, rather than dabbing the back of each candy with frosting and sticking it in place.

Vanilla Mortar (see page 14) or 1 can store-bought white frosting

Yellow paste coloring

Rice Krispies Treats (see page 17)

Licorice strings or red decorating gel

Dots, gumdrops, or M&Ms

Chocolate Mortar (see page 15), either milk or dark, or a tube of black or brown decorating gel

10 mini chocolate-coated pretzel rounds (the ones in the 100-calorie snack packs are just right) or Mini Oreos

1 pretzel rod

Bubble-gum tape, optional

Graham-cracker squares, optional

What to Do

1. Color the Vanilla Mortar bright yellow with a few dabs of the food coloring.

2. From the cooled 9" × 13" pan of Rice Krispies Treats, cut two 6" squares and glue one on top of the other with mortar. From the remaining 3" × 13" strip, cut two 3" × 3" pieces and glue them together, one on top of the other. Center the 3" squares on top of the 6" squares and attach with mortar.

Use a serrated knife to cut a small notch at the top of a pretzel rod. Push the end of a licorice string into the notch; you won’t need a deep groove to hold the licorice securely.

Use the tip of a knife or skewer to make a small hole in the top of the 6" square, next to the cab. Push the pretzel rod boom into the hole, twisting it into the Rice Krispies Treats until it stands firmly in place.

If you like, you can tie a pretzel tire to the end of the licorice rope. Load a flat square shape with gumdrops or other candy, so the crane has a load to lift. A stack of graham cracker squares makes a good pallet.

7. If you like, decorate the outside of the crane with rows of Dots, gumdrops, and/or M&Ms.

Vanilla Mortar (see page 14) or 1 can store-bought white frosting

Yellow paste coloring

Rice Krispies Treats, plain or chocolate variation (see page 17)

Dark Chocolate Mortar (see page 15) or a tube of black or brown decorating gel

2 graham crackers

6 regular-size Oreos

3 Nutter Butter Bites or Oreos Golden Mini Bites

Licorice strings or red decorating gel

Dots, gumdrops, M&Ms, or other small round candy

3 regular-size Oreos, crushed in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin or wooden spoon

Pretzel rod, optional

Half-gallon block ice cream or 2 frozen pound cakes, optional

Break the graham crackers into four squares. Place a graham-cracker square on your work surface. This will be the base of the bucket.

Arrange the remaining graham-cracker rectangles around the base to form the sides and back of the bucket, using chocolate mortar to hold it all together. The side pieces should sit on top of the base; the back should butt up next to it.

Set the bucket in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden the mortar, if necessary. Attach the bucket with mortar to the flat bed of the truck.

5. To make black-tire wheels with hubcaps:

Lay out the six regular-size Oreos.

Split the Nutter Butter Bites in two, dab mortar on the back, and press one in the center of each Oreo.

Dab mortar on the other side of the Oreos and stick them to the sides of the truck’s chassis. The cookies will help raise the truck off the ground, with their top edge supporting the body. It helps to have someone hold up the truck body while you press the cookies in place.

Set the whole truck in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up the cookies, if needed.

6. For the finishing touches:

Use trimmed lengths of licorice string to outline the windows on either side of the cab and the windshield. (You can use decorating gel to pipe on the windows.)

Use Dots, gumdrops, and/or M&Ms to make headlights and taillights on the truck. Add safety lights or reflectors on top of the cab and along the sides, as you like.

Fill the bucket with crushed-Oreo dirt and sprinkle with M&Ms or gumdrops or any other candy for texture.


What You’ll Need

Malted milk balls or candy raspberries (such as Haribo, see page 44)


Vanilla Mortar (use leftovers from the Crane or Dump Truck)

Soft-eating black and red licorice, Twizzlers, or any other licorice stick (the soft style is more pliable)

Pretzel sticks

Banana shapes from miniature fruit candy (such as Runts)

Licorice Allsorts, optional

Jelly beans, optional

What to Do

1. To make each construction worker’s head, use a sharp paring knife to cut off the top quarter of a malted milk ball or a candy raspberry. Discard the top. For the helmet, slice a gumdrop or a malted milk ball in half and use mortar to attach one half to the top of the candy head.

2. To make the torso, use a dab of mortar to attach a gumdrop to the construction worker’s head.

3. To make the arms, cut ¾" pieces of soft-eating licorice and attach them with mortar to the worker’s torso. Or use a short length of pretzel stick as a sort of tooth-pick, sticking one end into the licorice and the other into the gumdrop body.


  • ...plenty of fabulous ideas using all kinds of colorful sweet treats.

On Sale
Oct 8, 2010
Page Count
144 pages

Sharon Bowers

Sharon Bowers

About the Author

Sharon Bowers is the author of Ghoulish Goodies, Candy Construction, and The Lazy Way to Cook Your Meals. She lives in New York City and Dublin, Ireland

David Bowers is the author of Dad's Own Guide to Housekeeping and Bake Like a Man: A Real Man’s Cookbook. He lives in New York City and Dublin, Ireland.

Learn more about this author