I adore Halloween. I don’t think I can share how much. Some of it is the dressing up, some is the community spirit, but a lot of it? It’s the trick or treating and the candy. Around here, this is all a serious business. In my old neighborhood, we would have over 350 kids trick or treat at our house (yes, my husband keeps track every year), and we would end up with boatloads of candy.
Needless to say, we always ended up with a few problems every Halloween.
1) Kids were hungry partway through trick or treating, which meant they got cranky and just wanted to go home
2) With all the houses to trick or treat, we inevitably ended up with the problem that the wee ones wanted to keep going but at the same time couldn’t carry their candy effectively. It either spilled on the ground, or it was too heavy – or both.
3) We got All. The. Candy. and then didn’t know what to do with it. While we ate much of it, the rest… didn’t.
Fortunately, I’m Smart Mommy, and by Year 2 of trick or treating, I had this whole thing worked out. It’s amazing to me that what worked when they were 1 and 3 years old still works now that they are 10 and 12 years old, but I’ll take it. I know this is probably the last year Mister Man will “let” me trick or treat with him, so I’m taking all the pictures I can and remembering this one.
The first step in conquering the challenges of trick or treating is to prepare, prepare, prepare. I always start stocking up early, and it isn’t just on candy. Fortunately, Walmart not only has a great selection of candy, but they’re cheap, too. While we only had about 125 kids in our new house last year, that’s still a lot of candy to buy, so I do what I can to make it not obnoxiously expensive. (And the house we discovered that hands out movie size candy? Wow.)
This time around, I picked up the NESTLÉ Jumbo Assorted Fun Size Candy and an extra bag of the 11 ounce BUTTERFINGER® Fun Size candy since the BUTTERFINGER® candy bars always seem to go fastest when we let kids choose their candy. I’m just hoping that my preparedness this year doesn’t mean I’m out shopping for more candy again in a few weeks!
While at Walmart, I also stock up on quick meals. I’ve figured out that feeding the kids a quick snack as soon as they get home is key. They need something in their bellies, but they’re too impatient to start trick or treating to eat much more. An hour into trick or treating, we stop off at home for two reasons, and that’s when I feed them a full meal that doesn’t take much time to prepare because – again – impatience to be trick or treating.
This year, I grabbed the STOUFFER’S® Classic Mac Cups to pop in the microwave for dinner. With 8 grams of protein and fewer than 250 calories, it’s the perfect fast dinner on a night my children have no patience for waiting for anything!
And once it’s Halloween itself? I’m all set.
I ensure I have my necessary supplies on hand, and I’m ready to go:
- Trick or treat buckets
- Giant bowl of Nestle candy
- Pen and paper
- STOUFFER’S® Classic Mac Cups
- Rules for trick or treating shared with any children hanging with me
Wait, a backpack? Yes, a backpack. This is the key. Once we feed kids the snack, I strap on the backpack and hand the kids their Halloween buckets. As they start to fill their Halloween buckets, I’m quite familiar with the breadcrumb trail left behind by excited children who then lament the loss of their candy. Or the complaints that their buckets are too full and heavy.
That’s where the backpack comes in. Once they get about halfway full, we take a ten second pit stop for me to open the backpack and let each child dump the trick or treat bucket into my backpack, which I then zipper.
No candy gets spilled because their buckets never get that full. Plus, I can carry a backpack on my back much more easily than they can carry treat buckets in their hands. My kids are great at sharing, so we put it all into one compartment of the backpack, but my backpack actually has three compartments. If your kids want to keep “their” candy, simply designate a section of the backpack for each child and have them dump the candy there.
After an hour of trick or treating, we plan our route so that we are back at my house for a quick break and check in on my husband (and cats) who are manning the trick or treat station at our house. And yes, our cats are even more anxious for the trick or treaters to come than my husband. Go fig – really, we own dogs in cats’ bodies.
I empty the backpack into the Designated Halloween Candy Trading Area, while kids warm up if needed and take a bathroom break (because yes, we had that year where I had to ask a stranger if my son could use his bathroom because no, he couldn’t hold it until we got home – he was four at the time, but still… not repeating that mistake). Since my dinner of the STOUFFER’S® Classic Mac Cups takes just four minutes to microwave two cups, by the time they’re ready… so are the kids!
Once we finish eating, we head back out for Round 2, warm once again (because…Chicago) and with full bellies, ready to tackle another couple streets. I always let the kids decide when they’re done trick or treating, and each year I’m surprised how long they stick it out or how quickly they’re done.
Home again with all our candy becomes even more fun because the night isn’t over. And with Halloween on a Saturday night this year, it’ll probably go even later than normal. The wee ones spread all their candy throughout the floor so they can trade with themselves and their friends for their “favorites.” I’m constantly surprised that it somehow works out and everyone is happy with the distribution in the end. I allow each of them to choose about 25 pieces of candy, and I commandeer the rest.
Because once we’ve eaten 25 pieces of candy (each), it’s time to do something different with it. Last year, I made some amazing candy bar cookie brownies, but this year I have something different up my sleeve. I made these oh my WORD delicious candy stuffed cookies. These are Big Girl Cookies, made in a muffin tin with the candy hidden inside so it’s a special treat you aren’t expecting.
The best part is that they aren’t hard to make, and it’s a great way to use some of the candy in a different way than eating it straight. Best of all? These freeze beautifully, so you can enjoy some now and then pull some out in a couple weeks to remind yourself how good they really tasted.
My biggest word of caution is to not overbake these. You will think that they aren’t done and want to leave them in the oven longer. Dont. Do. It. Take them out of the oven, as they will continue cooking in the muffin tin. Trust me on this.
Giant Candy Stuffed Cookies
These giant candy stuffed cookies are such a fun treat, and they’re just as easy to make as they are to eat. You start out making my favorite super soft chocolate chip cookie dough, just like you would any other cookies, creaming the butter and sugar, adding eggs and vanilla and beating, adding dry ingredients, then the chocolate chips.
This makes 30 of the giant stuffed cookies, so you’ll need 15 NESTLÉ fun size candy bars. Using a sharp knife, cut them in half.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Though I originally considered making these in cute little mini muffin tins, I quickly realized that while I may be using fun size candy bars, they deserve giant cookies, so I went with my full size muffin tins, and I’m glad I did. They weren’t too big, which was my original fear, and the size allowed for a perfect hiding of the candy bars. You want your muffin tins greased to ensure the giant stuffed cookies come out easily when you’re ready to remove them.
Using your cookie scoop, add one scoop to each of the bottoms of the muffin tins. Place half a NESTLÉ fun size candy bar atop each dollop of dough and press down so it is into the dough but not all the way to the bottom.
Using your small scoop, add a second (smaller) scoop of cookie dough to each of the spots in your muffin tins.
Gently press down on the cookie dough ball so that it flattens enough to cover the candy bar. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but they look better when you have gotten the dough all around the candy bar so they’re truly candy stuffed cookies with the candy bar hidden inside.
Bake at 325 degrees for 19-21 minutes. Do not overbake. These will be less done looking than cookies generally are, but that’s ok. Because you are going to leave them in the muffin tins for another ten minutes, they’ll continue to bake. You want them to stay soft and not be hard and crunchy when you bite into them, so you can’t bake them all the way in the oven. Just trust me on this one.
After your giant candy stuffed cookies have cooled in the muffin tins for 10 minutes, carefully remove them and place them on a cookie rack to cool the rest of the way. They need that ten minutes of cooling to set up properly. If you try to remove them too quickly, they’ll fall apart (and you’ll have to eat them immediately).
Store in an airtight container on your counter for three to five days.
These cute muffin size cookies have a secret treasure inside and are so soft and chewy and absolutely delicious. Great way to use "extra" Halloween candy.
- 1 c unsalted butter
- 1 c sugar
- 1 1/2 c brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 t vanilla
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 3 c flour
- 2 c chocolate chips
- 30 fun size NESTLE candy bars
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla and beat again.
- Add baking soda and salt and stir well to combine. Add flour, mixing until just combined, then add the chocolate chips and stir to distribute.
- Gather 15 NESTLÉ fun size candy bars. Using a sharp knife, cut them in half.
- Grease full size muffin tins (enough for 30 candy bar stuffed cookies). Using a cookie scoop, add one scoop to each of the bottoms of the muffin tins.
- Place half a NESTLÉ fun size candy bar atop each dollop of dough and press down so it is into the dough but not all the way to the bottom.
- Using a small scoop, add a second (smaller) scoop of cookie dough to each of the spots in your muffin tins.
- Gently press down on the cookie dough ball so that it flattens enough to cover the candy bar.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 19-21 minutes. Do not overbake. These will be less done looking than cookies generally are.
- Cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them and place on a cookie rack to cool the rest of the way.
- Store in an airtight container on your counter for three to five days.