Before and after Halloween, when boxes and boxes of mini chocolate bars and candy are piled high in grocery stores, stock up on some extra treats for yourself—the real trick to this holiday is turning all the treats into even better goodies.
Perhaps you couldn’t resist buying two boxes of chocolate bars—one for the trick-or-treaters and one for yourself, or maybe it was those November 1 discount candy specials, or maybe your kids shun a particular type of treat—either way, the Halloween season means you have an excess of candy on your hands. Instead of slowly picking off those foil-wrapped chocolate spheres one by one, why not bake with them instead? Halloween candy makes a terrific addition to all kinds of sweet treats, and as a bonus, you can distribute them at the office, or give them for a school bake sale, ensuring that you don’t end up in a sugar-induced coma halfway through fall.
Sour Candies for a Sweet Ending
Though sour gummies are probably best eaten as they are, there are plenty of hard sour candies that work well in baked applications, such as Rockets, SweeTARTS, Nerds, and Pop Rocks. They work best where their tart flavours can be balanced out by a mild, mellow base, and it can be fun to mix multiple candy varieties in the same dish. Swap them out for the candy cane in this simple glazed shortbread recipe, or swap some in for sprinkles on this gorgeous white chocolate bark.
Chocolate Lovers Unite
Foil-wrapped chocolate balls and drops (such as Hershey’s Kisses) work well in thumbprint cookies, as they tend to hold their shape quite well, even when exposed to heat. Plain and filled (usually with caramel, nuts, or some combination thereof) chocolate bars work well when you chop them up and add them as a bonus treat to baked goods. Try using them in these decadent oatmeal fudge bars for the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, or swap them in for the mini eggs in this chocolate pavlova (bonus points if you drizzle it with chocolate sauce overtop).
All About the Crunch
Smarties and M&M’s have the chocolate market cornered in this department, and Skittles is their all-sweet counterpart. Since the defining feature of these candies is usually the distinct textural contrast between their crunchy shells and their soft interiors, generally they work best as a topping (rather than going in the oven). The chocolate ones would work well instead of mini eggs in this bet-you-can’t-stop-at-one toffee crackle, and all kinds would be a welcome addition to a homemade trail mix.
Unbeatable Toffee Taste
Chocolate-coated toffee bars are a real crowd pleaser, and can actually be used in some surprisingly sophisticated recipes. In fact, chocolate toffee is the defining flavour element in these giant meringue cookies, and makes an elegant garnish for these chocolate caramel parfaits. You can also finely chop these bars and use them in place of toffee bits to coat biscotti, fill up shortbread cups, or melt into cheesecake.
Salty & Savoury Solutions
Often the key to the most successful sweets is to balance out all that sugar with a teeny pinch of salt, adding balance and depth. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the more salty candies (plain chips, peanut butter cups, or nut-studded bars) are fun and versatile to bake with. Crush up some peanut butter cups and swap them in for the peanuts in this over-the-top brownies recipe.
Rescuing those Raisins
The most maligned of Halloween treats, almost unilaterally derided and discarded by children (and recently voted the worst Halloween candy in this CBC roundup), raisins can be transformed into a terrific number of desserts. If they’re at all dry, though, rehydrate them first by covering them in an inch or so of boiling water and allowing to rest until plump, about 10 minutes; drain and dry them before using. They work beautifully in this French toast mug or in this classic oatmeal cookie pairing. And at the risk of being controversial, if you like raisins in your butter tarts, they work very well there too!