It’s a tradition that’s as sweet as it is time-consuming: your children dumping their haul of trick-or-treat candy onto the living room floor, and then sorting it into piles of keepers and total losers.
A few items are perpetual pleasers, according to bulk candy seller CandyStore.com, which recently came out with its list of the three most popular Halloween candies in each state.
In Michigan, candy corn is tops, followed by Skittles and Starburst.
Americans also apparently love their candy corn (it’s No. 1 in six of the states), though it’s just as easy to find people who absolutely detest the humble, tri-colored candy. Manufacturers produce more than 35 million pounds — some 9 billion pieces — of the candy a year.
One man’s treat is another man’s poison, of course. So what qualifies as the best Halloween candy is subjective. What these hated goodies have in common is what you should do with them if you don’t want to toss them in the trash, give them away or unload them onto your unsuspecting co-workers.
So how about melting candy corn with peanut butter into a thick and creamy paste to make delicious filling for homemade Butterfingers candy or using Dum-Dum lollipops as a colorful stained-glass filling in sugar cookies. We also suggest adding Snickers bars to Rice Krispies treats for an easy upgrade.
Stained Glass Sugar Cookies
I used crushed Dum-Dums lollipops for the stained glass in this recipe. Martha Stewart’s cookie recipe is no-fail, but any cut-out sugar cookie recipe would work.
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Very finely crushed hard candy in various colors (1 cup total)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between floured parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Stack dough on parchment on a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.
With a 2 1/2-inch ball-shaped cutter, cut out dough (reroll scraps, if desired). Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on 2 parchment-covered cookie sheets. With a 1-inch star cutter, cut out dough in center of each cookie.
Bake until cookies are pale but set, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Remove sheets from oven; fill cutouts with crushed candy. Bake until cookies begin to brown at edges and candy is melted, 3 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Candy Corn Butterfingers
Yes, you can melt candy corn, and no, it won’t explode in the microwave. Mixed with peanut butter, it hardens into a candy that tastes exactly like a Butterfinger.
3 cups candy corn candy
1 cup creamy peanut butter
10 ounces chocolate almond bark or candy melts
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray with cooking spray and set aside.
Place candy corn in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat candy corn in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and stir until candy is completely melted. Heat for additional time, in 15 second intervals, if needed. In my microwave, it was a total of 1 minute, 45 seconds.
Once candy corn is melted, heat peanut butter in microwave for 25 to 30 seconds, until runny. Stir peanut butter into melted candy corn until completely incorporated.
Turn out onto baking sheet and press down to about 3/4-inch thickness (8-by-8-inch square). While candy is still soft, cut into 1-by-2-inch bars. Let candy cool for 1 hour.
Line a second baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt chocolate according to package directions. With 2 forks, dip each bar into melted chocolate, coating to cover completely. Place on waxed paper to set. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 24 squares.
Snickers Rice Krispies Treats
Everyone loves a Rice Krispies treat, and it’s so easy to sneak a chopped-up candy bar into the gooey snacks. I used mini Snickers bars, but you could easily substitute any type of fun-sized candy bar your child finds in his Trick-or-Treat bag.
Adapted from ricekrispies.com.
3 tablespoons butter
10-ounce package mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
8 snack-sized Snickers bars, chopped into small pieces
1 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped, divided
1 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add Rice Krispies, chopped Snickers bars and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, and stir well to combine.
Using buttered spatula or wax paper (I used the bottom of a greased measuring cup), evenly press mixture into 13-by-9-by-2 inch pan coated with cooking spray.
Melt together chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave on 50 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely smooth. Pour chocolate/peanut butter mixture over Rice Krispies treats and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chopped peanuts.
Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Cut into 2-inch squares. It’s best served the same day.
Makes 24 squares.