Halloween Candy Cookies

I used to love Halloween when I was a kid. My older brother and I had a paper route with 150 customers in our neighborhood, starting when we were 8 and 9 years old, so we knew a lot of people -- a lot of people whose doors we could knock on on Halloween night and who would be handing out candy. We'd head out with our parents and baby sister (yes, Lindsay, you were the baby then) and fill up pillow cases two or three times, returning to the house on occasion to unload them onto the dining room table. Once we visited every possible house we could, we'd head back home and begin the candy sorting.

That's right. We sorted the candy. We'd stake claim on the king-size bars we had collected and then everything else would be shared. We'd stack the candy by type. Reese's PB cups always won. Snickers were pretty high up there too. I wonder what would win nowadays. My two youngest siblings are pretty much too old to go trick-or-treating anymore. If you have children or siblings who still go trick-or-treating, I'd love to hear what they collect the most of.

I wonder if I call home on Halloween night if my mom will be making a pot of hot dogs and beans, just like she always did on Halloween night when I was little. It probably depends on what my siblings are doing. I bet my 17-year-old sister will dress up as something silly and go to a Halloween party with her friends (they were colors one year -- she was orange -- and Christmas elves another year -- people asked them to sing carols). My little brother, who just turned 14, is a bit less predictable when it comes to this sort of thing.

We always had to have a hearty meal of hot dogs and beans to fill us up before we headed out, and we always had to dress warmly enough for the weather. This really put a damper on my style as I usually wanted to be a princess or a fairy, and I didn't know any princesses or fairies who wore cable-knit tights and sweaters. While I may have fought against the warm clothing, I was secretly thankful to have it once we got out into the chilly October air.

Halloween isn't the same for me now. It lost that magic that a lot of childhood things lose over the years. I don't enjoy dressing up now, and I rarely accept invites to Halloween parties that require costumes. In the places I've lived for the past 6 years, I haven't gotten any trick-or-treaters. And I've noticed that a lot of towns will plan a night for trick-or-treaters to go out that isn't necessarily October 31, which is just so strange and scheduled to me. It doesn't seem like it could hold the same magic and excitement for children now as it did for me when I was little, but I'm not a child anymore, so I could be wrong about that.

At any rate, I hope all of you and your families have a happy and safe Halloween. And if you want to do something will all of that candy besides just eat it -- which is perfectly acceptable -- I recommend taking your favorite candy, putting it in the freezer for a bit, chopping it up, and adding it to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe in place of chocolate chips.

Reese's PB Cup Cookies (adapted from the NY Times chocolate chip cookie recipe)

3 2/3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 or more large Reese's PB cups, frozen (I only had 10, but I think 20 would be better!)


Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Coarsely chop PB cups, and set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.

Add chopped Reese's PB cups and stir gently until mixed.

Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. You can also form the dough into balls, ready for baking, place them on cookie sheets, and freeze them. Once the balls of dough have hardened, scoop them into freezer bags, and take them out and bake them whenever you want warm cookies.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Place frozen cookie balls or freshly formed balls of dough (any size you like -- I like mini cookies so I form mine into about 1/2-inch balls) on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (or longer depending on the size), until light golden brown but still soft in center. Let rest for 1 minute, and then transfer cookies to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough for as many cookies as you want to make.