Turn Your Leftover Halloween Hard Candies Into Dazzling Treats

According to Gourmet Gift Baskets, Americans collectively purchase around 600 million pounds of Halloween candy each year, which equals about 24 pounds of candy per person. However, after Halloween comes and goes, many households often end up with piles of leftover candy – whether you saw fewer trick-or-treaters than you were anticipating, your child had a particularly successful haul, or you simply cannot say no to a post-holiday sale to fill your candy bowls.

But after snacking on Snickers bars and Reese's cups all week, you may not be able to stomach much more. But if you find yourself with an abundance of sugary snacks this year, have no fear. There are many ways you can repurpose your treats rather than sending them off to the landfill: from simple caramel candy corn popcorn balls to more over-the-top options like Jeff Mauro's Candy Bucket cookies. And though hard candy can sometimes be relegated to the bottom of the Halloween candy popularity contest, there are a few ways to reuse your Jolly Ranchers, Red Hots, and other generic hard candies that will have you reconsidering your rankings.

Stained-glass cookies

Are you one of those people that puts up your holiday decorations and lights on November 1? If so, stained-glass sugar cookies may be the treat your Halloween hard candies are destined for.

The simple process starts with rolling out your sugar cookie dough, which can either be made from scratch or store-bought. Once your dough is evenly rolled out, use a large cookie cutter to cut out a shape (commonly a star, but any shape you like will suffice), and then use a smaller cookie cutter to make a hole in the middle, per the Food Network; The larger your hole, the more space you'll have for candy.

After crushing some hard candies in a large, sealable bag (Martha Stewart recommends using a small skillet or meat mallet to do this) you fill the chilled cookie's empty centers about two-thirds of the way with the crushed candy. At this point, they're ready to bake until golden! The final product will have a colorful, semi-translucent center that looks just like stained glass.

Candied popcorn balls

Satisfyingly crunchy and surprisingly quick to make, popcorn balls are enjoyable year-round and can be a favorite treat at any holiday get-together.

All you have to do is pop popcorn as you normally would while melting your leftover hard candies (My Recipies opts for cinnamon-flavored ones, but any hard candy will work). You can add flavorings, such as sugar, butter, and vanilla extract, to the melting candies or leave them plain. Once the consistency of the mixture is syrupy, simply pour it into your freshly popped popcorn bowl and mix it all together. Once cool enough to touch, quickly form the balls before the mixture before it fully hardens. There is also the option to stir in some other leftover candies, like M&M's or skittles, or even add in some crispy apple or pear chips before forming the balls.

If touching the hot candy concerns you, there is always the option to spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, though this will obviously turn out closer to something like popcorn bark (via allrecipes).

Create a gingerbread house

Gingerbread houses don't need to be reserved for Christmas. Why not make a festive home for your candy-created turkeys on Thanksgiving or a haunted house to extend the spooky season a little further?

But even if you do want to wait until your holiday lights go up to bust out your architectural skills, holding on to some of your Halloween hard candy to make your next gingerbread house can be both a cost-effective and sustainable idea, saving it from the trash and you from making another purchase. (Plus, if you decide to use a gingerbread house kit the candy included is not always stellar, often packed with knock-off M&M's, tiny candy canes, and plastic-y gumdrops.) Use your leftover hard candies to decorate your gingerbread house in colorful ways that kit or your standard green and red holiday bags could never, or even combine this tip with the stained glass window cookie method mentioned above for a festive creation that would wow even Gaudí.