Welcome to Projectophile! For first time visitors and those with life-threatening allergies, let me clarify: This is not a food blog. This is a safe space where we explore our feelings about garbage, haul it home, and then transform it into something relatively useful, and possibly even beautiful. We use the term “upcycle” a lot, even though I secretly hate that word.* Occasionally, our so-called upcycling involves food for human consumption.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I want to give my family something sweet to enjoy. I’m also desperate for a way to lovingly recycle their old Halloween and Christmas candy before the tsunami of Valentine’s treats washes over our home.
I’ve always admired dishes that spin bits of old or unwanted food into a delicious new whole – Meatloaf, Omlettes, “Wilted” Salads, and of course, shimmery, gravity-defying aspic molds.
Somehow a Candy Meatloaf or Candy Omelette just didn’t feel right. Then, I remembered that this past Fall we found ourselves knee-deep in surplus root vegetables. As winter approached, the root vegetables grew progressively uglier; some even grew defiant beards (I’m looking at you, celery root). The solution was to chop them up, sprinkle in some flour and salt, and bake all those creepy roots all into a flaky crust. Pot pie!
Could we use the Pot Pie Approach with Halloween Candy? I put the word out on the street that I was accepting slightly used Halloween, Hanukkah or Christmas candy for recycling. By the end of the week, three friends had dropped bags on my doorstep:
I Hoovered the internet for Candy Pot Pie ideas, sucking up inspiration as I went, masticating them with my mind, and eventually spitting out the following recipe:
PROJECTOPHILE’S RECYCLED LEFTOVER HALLOWEEEN/CHRISTMAS CANDY PIE with PRETZEL CRUST
to be served on Valentine’s Day
(metric measurements included for our international friends)
– 3 sacks of chocolate-based candy
– 2 cups finely crushed pretzel sticks (272 grams)
– ¼ cup packed brown sugar (55 grams)
– ¾ cup butter [stick and a half], melted (340.2 grams)
– 12 oz cream cheese (a box and a half), softened (340.2 grams)
– ½ cup granulated sugar (0.118 liters)
– ⅓ cup sour cream (78.447 milliliters)
– ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter** (78.447 milliliters)
– 2 eggs (1.97693 EuroEggs)
– ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips (50 grams? I don’t know, it doesn’t really matter at this point).
– 2 tablespoons whipping cream (29.58 milliliters)
– ¼ cup coarsely chopped lightly salted peanuts (a metric fistful)
First, grab the bags of candy that have been left on your porch and dump them onto the counter for decontamination, removing anything not chocolate-based, such as Skittles™, Laffy Taffy®, Blo-Pops©, etc. Your stash should now look like this:
Heat oven to 350°F (176.667°C). Spray a 9-inch (22.86 cm) glass pie plate with cooking spray.
To make the pretzel crust, empty a big bag of pretzels into a ziploc bag, throw the bag on the floor and step on it with your ugly House Clogs:
Quickly get bored with how long it takes to crush a bag of pretzels. Call your kids (and the neighbor kid who’s over) into the kitchen and tell them to step on it, too. If no baby feet are available, you may also use a food processor.
In medium bowl, mix pretzels, brown sugar and melted butter until they resemble gravelly sand, like you’d find at a Discount Beach Resort:
While crust is cooling, carefully choose and unwrap your candies. You may allow your children to participate in this step, with the understanding that watching you dispose of their old candy in this way may be the most difficult thing they’ve ever experienced in their short and easy lives:
Next, chop the candies into roughly ¼-inch square (1.6129 square centimeters) pieces.
Arrange 1 cup (153.62 grams) of candy pieces in bottom of crust. Then sneak into the bathroom and eat the remaining candy when nobody’s looking.
In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Lick the beater. Add sour cream and peanut butter, beating on low speed until well blended. Lick the beater again. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended. Lick. The mixture should now resemble slightly yellowed spackling paste. Go ahead and stick your hand in it. You’ll see.
Spoon cream cheese mixture over candy until candy is fully submerged.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set, testing by sticking your index finger completely through to the bottom and licking several times, just to be sure. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours while you nap.
When cool, sprinkle the pie with peanuts and remaining candy pieces. You did save SOME of those candy pieces, didn’t you?
Finally, microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream on high for 30 second intervals, stirring until melted and smooth. Drizzle chocolate sauce seductively over pie.
Cut slices very conservatively to avoid Sudden Diabetic Coma. Serve with insulin and sweatpants.
Enjoy a tiny slice with your family after dinner because you’re such a dainty eater. Then, after everyone is asleep, eat the whole pie while standing in your pajamas with the refrigerator door open. You’ve earned it.***
——— endnotes ———
* Other words I secretly hate: Webinar, staycation, synergy, diaphragm, and any statement that starts with the phrase, “You guys!”
** My apologies to readers in Europe, Asia and Latin America if you can’t easily find peanut butter. Americans have a special pipe in their kitchen where peanut butter comes out, next to the one for corn syrup. Africa, you’re good. Australia, I’m not really sure about your national peanut butter policy.
*** Nutrition Facts if you Eat the Whole Pie Yourself:
Calories: 6,500 (325% RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE)
Fat: 432 Grams (664% RECOMMENDED DAILY VALUE)