A Sweet Way To Use Up Leftover Halloween Candy This Holiday Season

Fruit may have been the OG treat for Halloween in the early 20th Century (via Library of Congress), but nowadays, the holiday is synonymous with candy. When kids (or kids at heart) hit the streets to trick or treat, they bring home the sweet stuff by the bucketloads.

Americans spent $3.1 billion on candy alone this Halloween, per Statista. With all these treats kicking around, it's impossible to eat them all at once. Of course, you can try to keep them fresh by storing them in a sealed container. Or, you can pull an Ina Garten and repurpose all that candy into an exciting new treat. This can be as simple as infusing fruity candies in alcohol for a boozy, grown-up indulgence. For leftover chocolate pieces, like Snickers or Butterfingers, celebrity chef Jeff Mauros chops them up and mixes them into a basic cookie recipe.

But with the winter holidays right on Halloween's heels, repurposing the haul into a piñata cookie — which is essentially layered cookies stuffed with candy — adds a fun twist to the usual biscuits found at the annual cookie swap.

Repurpose candy for festive piñata cookies

Dreidel cookies get a delightful piñata surprise over at Delish. Using a basic sugar cookie dough (which the website says can even be store-bought), cut out dreidel shapes. Keep 2/3 of the shapes intact, removing a square from the centers of the rest. Once baked and cooled, adhere a cut cookie to a whole one using piped frosting. Fill the empty square with tiny M&Ms, Nerds, or any other small candy that won't melt at room temperature, then cover it with one more full cookie. This makes a triple layer of goodness while locking in the surprise inside.

Food blogger Catherine Zhang rings in the new year with her upscale version of a piñata cookie. She cuts homemade cookie dough into champagne glass shapes, then adheres the three layers — one with a missing rectangle — with homemade royal icing.

Pillsbury's piñata cookie offers a shortcut for harried holiday cooks. Their pre-made sugar cookie dough is dyed into four hues with food coloring. The different colors are layered and then chilled before cutting into their shape. After the cookies bake, and while they are still warm, remove the center from part of the batch. Once cooled, assemble the layers, filling the missing center with candy. The recipe uses sticky corn syrup in place of icing to glue everything together. The vibrant layers of color make this a sweet cookie to serve at a Kwanza celebration.