Transform your leftover Easter candy into gourmet-inspired cookies

Was the Easter Bunny too generous? Here's the best way to upcycle those treats

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
April 5, 2021 4:55PM (UTC)
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Left-over candy cookies (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Even as a more-gullible-than-average child, I never quite bought into the notion of the Easter Bunny. My grownups never seemed to able to come up with a satisfying straight answer about my queries about his motivations or appearance. Was he human-sized? Was he an actual bunny? Why was he just hopping in on the heels of the most somber time of the year in the Christian calendar?

Then I had kids of my own, and I found myself keeping up a ruse I didn't even understand. Fortunately, when they were little, my daughters were satisfied with a straightforward, "It's a bunny, and he brings candy" explanation. Even though my girls are older now, we still celebrate Easter with baskets teeming with brightly colored treats. And we still typically find the leftovers kind of gross by Monday morning.

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But no longer! Rather than forlornly digging pastel M&Ms out of a thicket of plastic grass before chucking the whole works in the trash this year, I invite you to upcycle what the Bunny brought you in a gourmet-inspired way.

I'm obsessed with everything Christina Tosi creates in her Milk Bar empire, from the legendary cereal milk soft serve to the buttery Milk Bar pie. But I have a special soft spot for the cornflake marshmallow cookie, an irresistible melding of chocolateness, crunchiness, saltiness, gooeyness and my favorite flavor profile — burnedness. Baked into cookie dough, marshmallows get springy in the middle but shatteringly caramelized at the edges. And what is a marshmallow but a Peep that has not yet ascended to its highest form?

The classic Tosi cookie calls for her signature cornflake crunch. While I would never dissuade you from making a double batch, because you'll be eating it by the fistful, I've streamlined the process here to get you out of the kitchen and eating faster. 

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Because holiday candy is sweeter than the dark chocolate and regular marshmallows you might typically go for in a recipe like this, I've added a little more flour and recommend going with a completely unsweet crunch element in here. I made a recent batch of these with kettle corn, but crushed plain potato chips or pretzels would be heavenly. 

And though I haven't tried it, if you're feeling like lowering the bar, I'd bet you could skip the cookie dough-making part entirely and just add your mix-in trio to a softened tube of supermarket sugar or chocolate chip cookie dough. 

Serve these fresh and warm, and thank the Easter Bunny for leaving the ingredients.

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Recipe: Easter Candy Cookies

Inspired by Milk Bar's Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

Makes about 20

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2/3 of a cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups of AP
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups of something salty — crushed potato chips or pretzels, popped popcorn, crumbled Ritz crackers
  • 1 cup of something chocolate — candy coated eggs, a smashed up bunny, the fun-sized candy bar dregs of the Easter basket
  • 1 cup of Peeps, cut in small pieces

Instructions:

  1. In a stand mixer or a hand mixer (or with a bowl, spoon and elbow grease), cream together the butter and sugars on low until they're thoroughly mixed and airy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add your egg, vanilla and salt; then mix another 2 minutes or so.
  3. Add your flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until just combined and there are no floury parts.
  4. Mix in your salty thing and chocolate thing until just combined.
  5. Mix in your cut-up Peeps until just combined. (Your elements should be nicely distributed.)
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop or big spoon, scoop out 1/3 cup portions of cookies onto your sheet. Pat them down to flatten a little. They should still be thick.
  8. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. (I'm sorry, but this is not optional.)
  9. Preheat your oven to 375-degrees.
  10. Take out as many of the cookies as you wish to bake at a time, and put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Make sure they're socially distanced — 4-5 inches apart. They spread!
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating your tray once midway. They should be golden, oozy and a little lacy around the edges.
  12. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies sit for a few minutes before attempting to serve and eat.
  13. Put the rest of the unbaked cookies in a container or big plastic bag, and stick it back in the fridge so you can have fresh cookies whenever.

One note: Marshmallow is made of sugar, and sugar burns very easily. Things can go from delicious amber goodness to "Why is my kitchen so smoky?" quickly, so keep an eye on these as bake.

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Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Baking Candy Christina Tosi Cookies Easter Easter Candy Food How-to Milk Bar Quick & Dirty