Admit it — as soon as your little ghouls and goblins return from shaking down the neighborhood for candy on Halloween, you’re digging through those plastic jack o’ lanterns to find your own favorites. Now that Halloween is a seriously epic holiday and the abundance of candy continues to grow every year, you might find yourself with leftovers that even you can’t polish off. Or at least you (probably) shouldn’t.
But don’t take that candy to the dentist’s office or dump it in the garbage just yet. There are plenty of grown-up ways to use your leftover stash in delicious desserts, libations, and other more refined treats. These creations may not pass muster in a fine dining kitchen, but they’ll certainly satisfy your own sweet tooth without going overboard.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t exactly refined, but it’s still pretty damn delicious. Best of all, your kids can’t guilt you out of it unless they’re above the legal drinking age. Skittles, Starbursts, gummy bears, Jolly Ranchers, and other hard candies are perfect candidates for spending a couple of days in your favorite neutral-spirit. You basically just mix the candies with the spirit, wait for it to dissolve and fully infuse the booze with flavor, and strain the non-dissolved remnants away. With so many holiday parties around the corner, this is a pretty easy and quick way to enjoy fun cocktails when you’re dealing with the relatives.
Image: Betty Crocker
Holiday gifting season is coming up, which means that you’ll need to think of creative ideas for all those hostesses, teachers, and hairdressers in your life. Candy corn can be used through Thanksgiving without feeling seasonally out-of-touch, and a decadent chocolate bark a great way to show your gratitude. In addition to candy corn, you can also add chopped chocolate bars, peanuts, and other finds from your kid’s trick-or-treat stash to make it even more interesting.
Image: Christa, CC BY-NC-ND
You’re going to feel guilty about mainlining all this candy at one point or another, so introducing a little fruit probably won’t hurt. Dig out all the plain chocolate bars from your child’s stash, break them in half, and warm them over a double-boiler until melted. Dip halved bananas into the chocolate, and then it’s time to get creative. Crush M&Ms with a rolling pin, cut up peanut butter cups, and roll your freshly-dipped bananas into the mixture. Freeze on a baking sheet for a few hours and you’ll have a healthy(ish) snack that won’t make you feel too indulgent.
Image: The Magical Slow Cooker
If you’re looking for a truly decadent post-Halloween treat, fondue is the only way to go. Melt down fun-size candy bars with caramels, chocolate chips, and any of your other favorite treats (probably stay away from the fruity candies, though) together in a slow-cooker with a few rich components, and you’ll have the perfect sweet dip for fruits, angel food cake cubes, and other easy-to-assemble finger foods.
Image: Betty Crocker>
Halloween trail mix, also known as Harvest Hash is arguably healthier than just eating fistfuls of refined sugar, so it counts. Mix together your favorite hard-shell Halloween treats, like M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, and Sixlets with candy corn, Chex cereal, pretzels, nuts, and any other goodies that your heart desires. A massive batch of Harvest Hash will keep even the most ravenous of munchers in snacks for weeks, and keeps well in an air-tight container for a few weeks. If you’re not too greedy, it might even make it to your Halloween table.
Amy McCarthy is Paste’s Assistant Food Editor. She loves all things Halloween — except for candy corn.
Main Image: Matt McGee, CC BY-ND