Guest Post by Catherine from A Spirited Mind
Between egg hunts with extended family and Easter baskets at church, my three children always wind up with an impressive haul of Easter candy. The kids don’t need that much candy and my husband and I don’t either! To top it off, stores put candy on clearance the week after a holiday, and I often run across bags of sweets for 75-90% off in the course of my normal grocery store and drug store shopping.
Instead of throwing the candy away and passing up the clearance deals, I’ve found a few creative uses for Easter candy other than simply eating it all out of hand (or, in this case, out of basket). You can use holiday candy to provide treats throughout the year for your family or for others, and to show hospitality inexpensively.
Here are my top three favorite uses for leftover or clearance candy:
1) Substitute chopped candy for chocolate chips or baking chips in recipes.
Many types of candy can be chopped up to use in place of chocolate chips or other baking chips in recipes like cookies, brownies, or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. In my area, bags of chocolate chips cost between $1.50 and $2, so if I can find about two cups of chocolate candy for less than that, I consider it a good deal.
Any candy that is purely chocolate, “crunch” type chocolate, or chocolate with nuts will work for this purpose. Do use caution with candies containing toffee or nougat, since those will spread in the hot oven and can make regular cookies too sticky.
A nice mix of chopped chocolate is a good place to hide those cheap generic chocolate candies that always get left at the bottom of the Easter basket until the good stuff is gone! When I bake with chopped candies, I use a little less than the recipe calls for. For example, I usually use a whole bag of chocolate chips when I make cookies, but I would recommend only using a scant two cups of chopped chocolates because the varied textures of the candies can make the cookies come out uneven if you use more.
Once your mix of chocolate is chopped, you can freeze it in two cup portions to use later, or bake up a big batch of something to share with friends, neighbors, teachers or anyone else you’d like to bless with a sweet treat!
2) Use gummi candy to make shapes for decorating.
Instead of letting gummi candies harden and go to waste, you can use them to make pretty gummi butterflies, flowers, or other shapes to decorate cakes, cupcakes, or petit fours. I find that Starbursts, gumdrops and other soft gummis work best for shaping, while hard-shelled varieties like Skittles and jelly beans give mixed results depending on the brand. Feel free to check out my gummi decoration tutorialfor inspiration!
Once you’ve reshaped your gummi candy and dipped it in sugar to set it, you can freeze the shapes to use later if you don’t need them right away.
3) Have a fondue party!
Whether or not it’s well-suited for baking, any type of chocolate can make a fabulous fondue. To make the fondue, melt the candy in a double boiler or a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water and add cream until it’s the consistency you like (the amount of cream will vary depending on how much chocolate you’re using).
You can separate your candy into types first, or make an eclectic mixture. Cut up apples, pears, bananas or other fruit to dip in the fondue, or serve it with some clearance Easter slice-and-bake cookies. Fondue is a fun treat for kids, a romantic dessert for Date Night In, or a fun and inexpensive way to get some friends together. If you don’t have enough chocolate bunnies in your own candy stash to make up fondue for a crowd, maybe a pot-luck fondue party would be a good way for your friends to use up their surplus Easter goodies and have a fun get together besides.
Hopefully these ideas will get your creative juices flowing and make the leftover or clearance candy more useful than you thought. What other fun or inventive ways have you found to use candy after a holiday?
Catherine Gillespie lives with her husband and three small children in a little house on what used to be the prairie. She writes about good books, literature-based preschooling, extemporaneous cooking, faithful parenting and other creative pursuits at A Spirited Mind. You can also find Catherine on Twitter and Facebook.