Need help eating your (or your kid's) share of this year's payload of Halloween candy?
You're probably not alone. Americans readily shell out some $2 billion a year for all those sweet treats, but it doesn't take many mini chocolate bars, Tootsie Roll Pops and ghost Peeps for sugar fatigue to set in.
But rather than dump your excess in the office candy jar or let it go stale under your child's bed, consider some creative and seriously sweet ways of overindulging just a little bit more.
For example, melted peanut butter cups can dress up a dish of ice cream. Cookies don't need chocolate chips when you have crushed candy bars. And imagine a layer of York peppermint patties baked into a pan of brownies.
"It's sort of sickening how much candy you get at Halloween," says Pamela Mitchell, executive food editor at Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine. "My 8-year-old stores it but he doesn't eat it all. He just gets exhausted by it."
Mitchell uses the extra by melting caramel squares for a gooey drizzle over apple slices or pound cake.
Taste of Home magazine's new book, "The Taste of Home Baking Book," has dozens of dessert recipes, and 117 of them can provide a home for your leftover Halloween candy.
"Like Snicker's cookies," says Diane Werner, food director for the company's magazines and books. "I'd be right in there picking the (miniature) Snickers right out of the kids' sacks."
Here are some more ideas that will have you raiding your child's sugar stash.
Mitchell suggests using a double-boiler or microwave to melt Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for a sauce over cake or ice cream. Werner presses the mini cups into the middle of cupcakes or on top of thumbprint cookies (in place of the jam).
Fold candy corn into pancakes or roll them into popcorn balls and puffed rice treats. When she's icing a cake, Werner uses candy corns as a bottom border, in place of piped icing. But they work as well on top of iced cupcakes.
You can even accent chocolate bark or chocolate-dipped pretzel rods by dotting them with candy corn.
The obvious choice is stained glass cookies, says Deanna Cook, director of creative development for FamilyFun magazine. Make a 4-inch sugar cookie and use a two-inch cutter to remove the center. Place the cookie on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and fill the center with crushed hard candy. Bake until the candy is melted, then let it cool before moving it.
There are so many options you may never eat these candies straight up again. Use a food processor to quickly chop bars into bits, then fold them into cookie dough in place of chocolate chips. Or use them to top brownies and other baked bars.
Werner likes using the chunks to decorate cookie pizzas and folds them into softened ice cream.
The broken up bars, even mixed, make a nice textured layer for trifles too. Ditto for ice cream pies with a cookie crumb crust. Also especially good are 3 Musketeers and Snickers.
Store the candy in the freezer or a cool place until December to use for decorating gingerbread houses. Cook likes this option because her children use the candy without eating it.
NECCO Wafers make good roof tiles. M&M's or Skittles are great embellishments or door knobs. Licorice string can border windows. Gumdrops make pretty flowers. Hard candy can make colorful windows.
Or tuck away your leftovers for a birthday party pinata.
And what if you just want it out of the house? Food experts have ideas there too. Cook has heard from parents who convince their children to let the Great Pumpkin or Sugar Witch make off with candy in the night. They awake to a small present instead, perhaps an electric toothbrush.
Other parents buy their children's candy a piece at a time, or let them trade it in for special time with Mom or Dad. And where does it all end up? Probably back in the office, but perhaps transformed into cookies and brownies.
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