By Heidi Knapp Rinella
It sounds like an oxymoron, the jumbo shrimp of the holiday-treat world:
Leftover Halloween candy.
Still, it happens. You might find yourself with a few extra bags. Or you may be related to particularly enthusiastic trick-or-treaters who bring home more of a haul than they can healthfully consume, their own opinions on that subject notwithstanding.
What to do? You could take it to work, but everybody else probably is doing the same thing. Most candy freezes particularly well, so you can freeze it, to be parceled out to yourself or those in-house trick-or-treaters at a pace that most resembles moderation. (Then again, since a lot of candy bars are even better frozen, this may defeat your purpose.)
Or you can use it in other things. Yeah, we’re not talking barley risottos or roasted vegetables here; most uses for leftover Halloween candy involve copious amounts of sugar. But at least it’s a way to sort of spread out the leftover candy, and to make it more interesting.
Megan Romano, chef/owner of Chocolate &Spice Bakery in Las Vegas, Nev., has three kids and an occasional surplus of Halloween candy. She suggests using it in a pumpkin-vanilla swirled cake.
“One of our bakery favorites is a pumpkin cake; so many people like pumpkin,” Romano said. She swirls the batter with vanilla spongecake, and said it can be baked in small or large Bundt pans or regular cake pans. She puts a dulce de leche chantilly mousse in the middle, with the candy — broken up for a more uniform application — in the middle and decorating the top.
“Rolos — chocolate-coated caramel — or Nestle Crunch is really good,” Romano said. “Reese’s peanut butter always has a place. M&M’s — any kind of candy bar. It’s pretty versatile; pumpkin goes well with chocolate. It’s up to whoever’s making it.”
If you want to get really fancy, she said to serve it with a honey-caramel sauce.
“You can get as ambitious as you want,” Romano said.
Another use for leftover candy she suggests is an ice-cream cake. For that, she said to use an open ring mold of any size.
“Put a graham cracker or cookie crumb on the bottom,” she said. “Grind it up and moisten it with a touch of butter.
Let the ice cream — she suggests pumpkin, chocolate, butter pecan or, for a more adult taste, tiramisu flavor — soften in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
“Work it with a spatula to smooth it out, “ she said. “Then put it on the mold and layer it with the candy.”
Let that layer harden, then repeat layers until the mold is nearly filled, she said. Let it freeze solid overnight, and as a last touch spread it with some homemade or purchased honey-caramel or fudge sauce. Put it back in the freezer to harden, then unmold (Romano uses a blowtorch) onto a plate and slice, then serve immediately.
Megan Bringas, executive pastry chef at Aureole at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, suggested uses for leftover Halloween candy that are tailored to your audience. If you have children, she suggests putting it away to be used for decorating a gingerbread house at Christmas.
“Especially the candy nobody likes, like Smarties,” she said.
For adults, she has a very different suggestion.
“When I was a child, I think the hard candies were my least favorite,” Bringas recalled. “Take the stuff your kid is not going to eat and make some infused vodkas. You can bottle them and give them as gifts.”
Infused vodkas are especially good when made with Werther’s Originals or Jolly Ranchers, she said.
“Get a 1-liter bottle of vodka,” Bringas said. “Use maybe a half-cup of Jolly Ranchers — or use two flavors, grape and apple, something like that, a nice combination of flavors. Werther’s Originals, that kind of buttery caramel.
“Give it a good few weeks. The alcohol’s going to dissolve the candy well. You could even add some fruit or herbs to that, just to bump it up a notch. Then rebottle in smaller bottles or jars, with tight-sealing lids. If you’ve procrastinated and the holiday is near, attach a note informing the giftee when the vodka will be ready.”
Leftover chocolate candy, especially, can be used in just about any way you’d use chocolate chips or similar baking ingredients: think cookies, cakes, cupcakes, breads, etc. Here are some recipes to help you get started:
1 cup canola oil
Zest of 1 orange
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon clove
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
Dulce de leche mousse (recipe follows)
Sour cream frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line with a circle of parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine first six ingredients with a whisk. Sift the remaining dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing with each addition until incorporated. Pour batter evenly into the pans. Bake for about 30 minutes; the cake is done when you touch the top of the cake and it does not leave an impression, and after inserting a toothpick it comes out clean of wet crumb. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. To assemble, trim the cakes to form even layers. Using a piping bag, evenly pipe the mousse onto two of the cakes. Stack the cakes. Frost with sour cream frosting and decorate with Halloween candy.
Dulce de leche mousse:
1/2 cup dulche de leche
1 1/2 cups mascarpone
Using a rubber spatula, mix dulche de leche and mascarpone.
Sour cream frosting:
18 ounces chocolate, melted
12 ounces butter
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 ounces (4 cups) confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sour cream
Place chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave. Set aside. Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix for 15 minutes, using a paddle attachment, until smooth. Gradually add sugar, cocoa powder and salt, mixing until incorporated. Gradually pour melted chocolate/butter mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Finally, add sour cream and mix briefly until smooth.
— Recipe from Megan Romano
8 ounces white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped
4 cups Corn Chex or Rice Chex cereal
2 cups bite-sized pretzel twists
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup candy corn
1/4 cup orange and black cake and candy decors
In a large microwaveable bowl, microwave the chopped baking bars uncovered on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.
Gently stir in cereal, pretzels and raisins until evenly coated. Stir in candy corn and decors.
Spread on waxed paper or foil until cooled and chocolate is set. Break into chunks. Store loosely covered.
— Recipe from Chex
1 1/2 cups cold 2 percent milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 apples, chopped (about 6 cups)
4 Snickers candy bars (2.07 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in whipped topping. Fold in apples and candy bars. Refrigerate until served.
— Recipe from Taste of Home
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 vanilla beans, split
6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 66 percent), chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
2 cups chopped candy or candy bars (such as Snickers, Kit Kats, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or M&M’s)
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs
In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk and salt. Scrape all the seeds from the vanilla beans and add to the saucepan along with the bean pods. Cook over medium heat until just boiling, about five minutes. Remove, cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until just blended.
Over medium heat, bring cream mixture back to a simmer. While whisking constantly, add in egg yolks until blended. Pour whole mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard coats the back of a spoon, three to five minutes.
Pour custard through fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Add chocolate, cinnamon and chipotle. Stir until melted.
Chill the mixture in the fridge until very cold, about two hours, stirring frequently. The chilled custard can be covered and refrigerated up to two days before churning.
To churn, pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer s instructions. When the ice cream is ready, fold in chopped Halloween candy bars and cocoa nibs.
Serve immediately, or for firmer ice cream, scrape into a chilled bowl, cover and freeze until firm, or up to three days. Garnish with candy corn.
Makes 1 quart.
— Recipe from Bon Appetit
Heidi Knapp Rinella is the food editor at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact her at email@example.com.