How a Few Professionals Use Up Leftover Candy

November  3, 2014

In our Phone a Friend column, we'll be asking some of our friends around the food world about how they cook and eat. And we want you to join the conversation, too. 

Today: We know you have a bag of candy hanging around. Try getting creative with it, won't you?

Crunch Bars

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We all love the sugar high that is Halloween: We sneak treats from our children's stashes, fill our homes with tiny bowls of candy corn, and buy obscenely large bags of assorted chocolate bars for just a handful of trick-or-treaters.

But Halloween is now behind us, the costumes have been put away, the fake cobwebs are coming down, and we've exhausted our enthusiasm for unwrapping tiny candy bars. You could shove that leftover candy in the back of your pantry for a rainy day -- or you could turn it into something better, something more adult. We consulted a few professionals to see what tricks they have for using up their leftover treats. Turns out, the possibilities are endless for this year's Halloween haul:

Erin Patinkin, co-owner, Ovenly: When I was a kid, my mom used to take her favorite brownie recipe and combine it with candy. She'd fill mini cupcake cups halfway with batter, then place a Reese's peanut butter cup in each before baking them. (This may be the best dessert of all time to eat warm and straight out of the oven.)

I've completely ripped off this idea from her and use it for any chocolatey leftover candy I have from Halloween. I've made brownie-candy cups with cut up Twix or Mars bars, bits of Snickers, and even Charleston Chews. These desserts are not only awesomely delicious, they have the added advantage of being a perfect excuse to go trick-or-treating as an adult.

Agatha Kulaga, co-owner, OvenlyWhen I first moved to Brooklyn, for the week leading up to Halloween and the week after, there was a tiny old Italian man in my neighborhood who spent his days throwing candy out of his second story window at passers-by. It often landed on people’s heads and seemed fairly creepy, but I'm fairly certain his intentions were good. Needless to say, the candy just piled up on the sidewalk.

More: Here are even more ways to use up your leftover Halloween candy.

Chocolate Mousse

Instead of chucking it out your window at strangers, I like to put it to better use -- I MAKE DESSERTS WITH IT! At Ovenly, we love using up our "kitchen sink" ingredients for cakes, cookies, coffeecakes, and more. Here are a few ways to incorporate leftover Halloween candy into recipes from the Ovenly cookbook: 

  • Crush up candy and use it as a decorative touch on a cake or cupcakes. Layer it on the sides of a cake for extra texture (or to hide any imperfections).
  • The mini size chocolate bars (Snickers, Three Musketeers, Kit Kat, etc.) are perfect for sandwiching between two cookies. Microwave for 10 seconds and -- boom! You've got yourself a melty cookie sandwich. 
  • Layer salted dark chocolate pudding with chopped candy bars, whipped cream, and cake crumbles (I like to use our stout cake) to make a decadent, salty-sweet trifle. 
  • Use leftover candy to sweeten up spicy caramel corn (ours has bacon in it!). Toss popcorn with candy pieces, then pour caramel over the popcorn and mix it all together. 

Molly Yeh, blogger and maker of homemade dunkaroosI obviously soak my gummy bears in vodka and then eat the shit out of them -- preferably in front of a Mighty Ducks marathon. 

Sydney Kramer, blogger at Crepes of WrathLeftover Halloween candy is my favorite thing to chop up and put into cookies. I’m sort of known for it in my office, even if it’s not Halloween. Whenever I bring cookies in, people ask me what I’ve put in there “this time." Most recently, it was colorful M&Ms.

More: Get Sydney's recipe for homemade marshmallow fluff from scratch.

I have one basic recipe that I use for everything -- be it peanut butter cups or malt balls or chopped up Milky Way bars. There is something irresistible about picking up a cookie and being able to make out a part of a Kit Kat or seeing a snippet of what used to be a whole Butterfinger in there. Of course, I have to add one signature touch, which is to always use a good pinch of sea salt to top everything off. It makes even drug store candy seem gourmet.

Brooks Headley, Pastry Chef and author of Fancy DessertsPeople have leftover candy? 

What will you do with your leftover candy? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom, popcorn photo by Sarah Shatz

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • spiffypaws
  • cookinginvictoria
Julie Myers

Written by: Julie Myers

Perpetually hungry. Will travel for food.


AntoniaJames November 5, 2014
For years, I did what Erin Patinkin's mother did -- put Reese's peanut butter cups into brownies -- but then upped my game by putting them in blondies, where they stand out better.
Another favorite: chop them finely with extra peanuts, to use as a base layer in an ice cream pie (ground oreo crust, vanilla ice cream or vanilla swirled with salted natural peanut butter, topped with chocolate curls).

As I noted in a comment to a similar article last week on this topic, I now keep it all in my car and give it to the down-and-out people standing at major intersections and at the end of freeway exit ramps holding cardboard signs asking for help. I give a couple of candy items along with a dollar, a bottle of water (I always keep a few bottles in my car just for this purpose), and an apple, orange or banana. This probably doesn't count as "creative," but the recipients seem really to appreciate it.
These ideas here though are fun and interesting. ;o)
spiffypaws November 3, 2014
My grandmother and great aunt were babysitting my sister and me when my parents were on vacation after Halloween. They made a choc bread pudding and threw in some of my candy, inc m&ms. I was mad that they took my candy until I tasted it. It was awesome!!
cookinginvictoria November 3, 2014
Some great ideas here. I especially like the suggestion to use Reese's peanut butter cups as a surprise filling for brownie batter.
After Halloween or Valentine's Day, one of my ways to deal with leftover candy is to whip up a big batch of drbab's Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies and share them with friends and neighbors.