Halloween Re-treat: Life&Times hands out some ideas for repurposing leftover candy

You bought a 10-pound bag of Halloween candy, and only five costumed kids stopped by.

Instead of scarfing down the fun-size remnants and putting yourself on the path to obesity, consider some of today’s trends for using up your leftovers. Life&Times looks at a few of your best options.

Donate to the troops

Many charitable groups collect items to send overseas in care packages for members of the military. Lackawanna County’s juvenile probation department, fifth floor, 200 Adams Ave., Scranton, accepts food, personal items, clothes, stationery and entertainment items for such boxes. Food donations accepted include non-chocolate candy (favorites like Twizzlers and Skittles) as well as nuts, energy bars, sunflower seeds and trail mix. For more information about the drive and other items you can donate, call probation officer Mari Walsh at 570-963-6887 ext. 4803.

Operation Gratitude, a national nonprofit group, also put out a call for unused Halloween candy for the troops. Donors do not need to separate chocolate and non-chocolate candy, and they can send the leftovers to Operation Gratitude, 21100 Lassen St., Chatsworth, CA 91311, Attn: Angel Cuevas/Receiving 818-469-0448. For more information, visit www.operationgratitude.com.

Make your dentist smile

Many dental offices and other businesses participate in Halloween candy buyback programs, in which they offer cash, coupons, toothbrushes, hygiene kits or other items in exchange for candy. Businesses can register with halloweencandybuyback.com, which lets users search for participating offices within a geographic area.

Keeping excess candy out of kids’ hands, the program turns over the products to nonprofit distributor Soldiers’ Angels, according to the website. Soldiers’ Angels takes loose, bagged, full-size and miniature candy, and people interested in donating also can ship their candy directly to the charity.

Local businesses already registered with the website include Dr. Joyce A. Perih, D.D.S., M.S. Orthodontics, 1210 O’Neill Highway, Dunmore, and Complete Health Dentistry of NEPA, 3363 Lake Ariel Highway, Honesdale. Check with your own dental office, however, to see if they offer similar incentives.

Save it

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If you participate in a parade during the holiday season (or even beyond) and plan to hand out candy, hang on to your leftovers. Eager little tummies won’t mind if their candy comes in a pumpkin wrapper at Christmastime, and it will save you from having to buy more bags of sweets.

Make sure you store the candy properly, however, so it stays fresh until then. According to the National Confectioners Association, dark chocolate keeps for one to two years if wrapped in foil and kept in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a pantry or basement. Milk and white chocolates, meanwhile, remain fresh for just eight to 10 months. Hard candies should be stored in a cool, dry location and can keep for up to a year at room temperature, the association noted.

Unopened jellied candies can keep for about a year, and you can store opened ones for six to nine months in a covered candy dish at room temperature (approximately 70 F) away from light and heat. Follow the same storage guidelines for candy corn, which the association said can last about nine months if in an unopened package and three to six months if opened.

Caramels, meanwhile, last about six to nine months, or even a year in certain instances, if kept covered at room temperature away from light and heat.

Sweeten up a recipe

Give candy bars a new purpose by finding a recipe that uses them as ingredients.

Candy transforms cakes and other sweets into new, exciting treats — which, if you’re concerned about keeping the sugar at home, you can give away to friends, family or even charity or take to a holiday gathering.

Here are a few recipes to consider:

Halloween candy bark

(From National Confectioners Association)

24 ounces white chocolate chips

10 ounces candy corn

5 ounces candy-coated chocolate pieces (such as Reese’s Pieces or M&Ms)

5 ounces pretzels, broken into pieces

4 ounces dark chocolate chips

Line a metal or glass rectangular cake pan with wax or parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute or 30-second increments, stirring between each until the chips have melted. Spread the white chocolate mixture evenly into the pan. Add various candies and snacks on top. Gently press down when finished.

Place pan in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place the dark chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for three 30-second increments, stirring between each. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle the dark chocolate mixture on top of the bark.

Let sit in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

Break up and serve when ready.

Candy bar pie

(From National Confectioners Association)

3/4     cup milk

3 to 3-3/4 ounces chocolate candy bars (with or without nuts of your choice), broken into pieces

30 regular marshmallows

2 cups ready-made whipped cream

9-inch graham cracker pie crust

Chocolate curls or crushed peanuts, for         garnish

In small pan, combine milk, candy bar pieces and marshmallows. Stir over medium-low heat until melted.

Pour into bowl and place in freezer to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Fold 1 1/2 cups ready-made whipped cream into chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

Turn into pie crust and return to freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

Spread remaining whipped cream over top.

Garnish with chocolate curls or crushed peanuts. Refrigerate.

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