It's a tradition that's as sweet as it is time-consuming: your children dumping their haul of trick-or-treat candy onto the living room floor, and then sorting it into piles of keepers and total losers.
A few items are perpetual pleasers, according to bulk candy seller CandyStore.com, which recently came out with its list of the three most popular Halloween candies in each state.
In Pennsylvania, snack-sized Hershey bars are a welcome treat, ranking No. 3 after M&Ms and Skittles as the most-loved Halloween candy.
Americans also apparently love their candy corn (it's No. 1 in six of the states), though it's just as easy to find people who absolutely detest the humble, tri-colored candy. Manufacturers produce more than 35 million pounds -- some 9 billion pieces -- of the candy a year.
One man's treat is another man's poison, of course. So what qualifies as the best Halloween candy is subjective. What these hated goodies have in common is what you should do with them if you don't want to toss them in the trash, give them away or unload them onto your unsuspecting co-workers.
So how about melting candy corn with peanut butter into a thick and creamy paste to make delicious filling for homemade Butterfingers candy or using Dum-Dum lollipops as a colorful stained-glass filling in sugar cookies. We also suggest adding Snickers bars to Rice Krispies treats for an easy upgrade.
Stained Glass Sugar Cookies
I used crushed Dum-Dums lollipops for the stained glass in this recipe. Martha Stewart's cookie recipe is no-fail, but any cut-out sugar cookie recipe would work.
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Very finely crushed hard candy in various colors (1 cup total)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between floured parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Stack dough on parchment on a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.
With a 2 1/2-inch ball-shaped cutter, cut out dough (reroll scraps, if desired). Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on 2 parchment-covered cookie sheets. With a 1-inch star cutter, cut out dough in center of each cookie.
Bake until cookies are pale but set, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Remove sheets from oven; fill cutouts with crushed candy. Bake until cookies begin to brown at edges and candy is melted, 3 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.
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