CASA GRANDE -- It’s Halloween season and that means candy is everywhere.

And what’s better than a big bowl of leftover Halloween candy? Baking the mini sweet treats into a decadent, cookie-like snack bar is one of those desserts that elevates Halloween candy to the next level and transforms it into something even more irresistible.

Halloween candy cookie bars use about two cups of Halloween candy and the best thing about them is that the recipe can be customized to suit any taste. The dessert is best when a combination of candies is used.

I’m a fan of chocolate and peanut butter so I like to mix assorted chocolate candies with peanut butter cups and Reese’s Pieces, but any combination would work in this recipe.

Aside from baking, a few other uses for the treats include the following ideas:

  • Donate the candy to a youth group or organization (check that they’re accepting candy first) or give to neighbors.
  • Make trail mix. Candies like M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces go very nicely in most trail mixes.
  • Chop it up and mix it into ice cream, either homemade or store bought.
  • Freeze it. Some varieties, especially the chocolate candies, freeze very nicely.
  • Decorate. Twizzlers, Sweet Tarts and other candies are perfect for Christmas decorating and work nicely in creating gingerbread houses. This year, I plan to make a homemade, candy-filled advent calendar, and Halloween candies are the perfect size treats for this project.

My two favorite leftover Halloween candy recipes are below.

Halloween Candy cookie bars

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

1/3 cup peanut butter

½ cup white granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups chopped candy

Whisk together dry ingredients including flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl or stand mixer, combine butter, peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. When mixture is smooth and ingredients are well combined, add dry ingredients and incorporate fully into the mixture.

Chop candy into bite-sized pieces. Mix into batter.

Pour batter into a parchment lined cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The chocolate will melt into the batter, and the resulting bars will be gooey and moist inside.

Peanut butter cup brownies

This recipe uses a make-from-scratch brownie recipe but a box mix could also be used. When I make homemade brownies, I combine granulated sugar with confectioners sugar to give them a silkier texture.

1¼ cups butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon milk or water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup butter

12 chocolate peanut butter cups

Melt butter on medium heat. Turn off heat and whisk in sugars and cocoa powder.

Combine eggs, salt, vanilla and milk.

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Mix in egg mixture, then butter mixture, stirring until well combined.

Pour batter into parchment paper-lined baking pan. Press peanut butter cups into batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.