Every year I buy bags of Halloween candy, just in case a hundred trick-or-treaters decide to drop by my house. Maybe two or three groups of kindergartners will ring the bell. After dark, it gets very quiet. I watch "Children of the Corn" on pay-per-view as I wait in vain for scary teenagers to knock on the door. The next morning, my leftover candy begs to be put to use.
There isn't much you can do with truly horrible Halloween leftovers, such as Smarties, Blow Pops and the dreaded Nerds. It's best to save these colorful items to decorate a holiday gingerbread house in a month or two. But here are some ideas for using the good stuff in quick and fun desserts.
Chocolate-mint frosted brownies: As soon as you pull your brownies from the oven, cover the surface with leftover Junior Mints. Let stand for 10 minutes, then smooth the melted candy into an even layer with a small metal spatula. Let cool completely and allow the mint-chocolate "frosting" to set before slicing and serving.
Milky Way hand pies: Place a mini Milky Way in the center of a small (3-inch) circle of store-bought puff pastry dough. Fold the dough over to cover the candy bar and seal by crimping edges with the tines of a fork. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake in a 375-degree oven until golden, 30 to 40 minutes.
Snickers s'mores: Break whole graham crackers into quarters and place half the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Top each with a mini Snickers bar and a marshmallow. Place on a baking sheet and broil until marshmallow is melted and toasted. Top with remaining graham cracker pieces and serve immediately.
Chocolate-covered strawberry Twizzlers: I like to dip the ends of strawberry-flavored Twizzlers into white or dark melted chocolate, then cover the chocolate with colorful sprinkles or nonpareils.
Twix marshmallow treats: Stir chopped Twix bars into your rice cereal and marshmallow mixture for extra-gooey goodness.
Banana-peanut butter cup "ice cream": Peel some very ripe bananas (the ones your kids say are rotten), cut them into 1-inch pieces and freeze for an hour or two. Puree the frozen banana pieces in a food processor until smooth and the consistency of soft ice cream. Stir in chopped peanut butter cups.
HALLOWEEN CANDY BLONDIES
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 mini peanut butter cups
1 cup M&M's
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and at least 1 inch overhangs the top of the pan on all sides.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl.
3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove it from heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves. Quickly whisk in the egg, yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated.
4. Set aside 1 cup batter and spread the rest into the prepared baking dish. Arrange peanut butter cups on top of the batter in the pan, with about 1/2 inch between each candy. Smooth the reserved 1 cup of batter over peanut butter cups. Sprinkle with M&M's.
5. Bake brownies until they are just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Grasping overhanging foil on either side of the pan, lift out the brownies and place them on a cutting board. Cut into 32 pieces. These blondies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Makes 16 blondies.