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:
Firmly press the pretzel mixture onto the bottom, then up the side and onto rim of the pie plate.
Bake pretzel crust 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on cooling rack, and reduce oven temperature to 325°F (162.778°C).
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)
This looks unbelievably… um…. unbelievable. Basically you had me at “collect loads of leftover chocolate mumble mumble mumble Peanut Butter Cups mumble mumble mumble sugar mumble mumble, melt chocolate mumble mumble…” Well, you get the idea. So it’s a profound relief that my regrettable dietary issues prevent me from testing this masterpiece. Australia’s policy on peanut butter is: Every household shall have several jars in various stages of consumption because we couldn’t find the open one after looking for one microsecond. I get over this issue by making Peanut Butter Cookies on a regular basis to mop up the leftovers. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
Somehow, deep in my heart, I new that Australia was peanut butter positive! In our house right now, we’ve got three “family size” jars of it. One is nearly empty and two more are JUST IN CASE. Because running out of peanut butter would be a true emergency.
LikeLiked by 1 person
ok i gotta ask, are you a fan (as i am) of mary roach? her footnotes are — like yours– sometimes the funniest part!
I have not read any Mary Roach, but she’s definitely on my list for authors to check out. Which of her books should I start with? I’m leaning towards her first one on cadavers.
My fave is BONK, or maybe it is Packing for Mars, it’s a tie. Just finished GULP, and didn’t think i’d make it thru, but the explanation of Elvis’ death at the end was worth it.
The biggest surprise is that anyone had chocolate candy left over from Halloween. Who doesn’t eat the chocolate first!?! (Apparently, my son, who just read this comment and said he still has a giant Snickers bar. Oversight on my part. For not eating it.)
Oh I certainly take my 15% chocolate service charge from each of my children’s Halloween bags, whether they know it or not. At their age, they still prefer the sticky, gummy, too-sweet, colors-not-found-in-nature candy to the chocolates. I think an appreciation for chocolate comes with puberty.
Marvellous!…it’s a kind of pot luck pie. Love not wasting food and turning something into something else….for me, this usually ends up with a ‘whatever was in the fridge too long’ soup..
Yes, for us, it’s chili. Beans, sauce,and whatever is turning slimy in the back of the fridge. Cook it down with some cumin and chili powder and everybody is happy. We call it Baby Slop. Serve it with different carbs — tortillas, rice, macaroni noodles, corn bread — and it’s a totally different meal each day of the week. That’s what I call meal planning!
don’t believe it!!…my husband and I just finished, today, the last of our (3 day old) vegetarian (replace meat with aubergine) Baby Slop chili…in fact we totally slopped out by having it with pureed celeriac and potato…no teeth needed…
Oh but you know! If you could save halloween, xmas AND valentine candy, you could make this on March 14 PIE DAY! (3.14, you know)
Marking my calendar right now! But then what do we do with all the Easter candy (March 27)?
Omg it never ends. Even 4th of july now they toss candy from the 15 fire engines that make up most of the parade here.
left over chocolate? From as far away as October? This is a dead giveaway – this blog is secretly written from communist Nth Korea isn’t it?
p.s. Australia is a part of the peanut butter coalition of the willing. Forcibly injecting peanut butter into countries that may or may not realise they need it
I’m gonna make a big confession here: All this candy was given to us by our three friends who left their bags on the doorstep. We’ll call them Megan, Mary and Rachel, because those are their real names. MY family does not leave any candy behind. Unless it fell underneath the fridge or something, then eventually we will locate it and eat that, too. But it makes the narrative of the blog post more interesting if I act like it was all ours.
I need to know why Australia is part of the Global Peanut Butter Loving Alliance, but not the rest of the Commonwealth? Well, I’m assuming that Canada is PB-friendly, but I’m guessing that the UK is not, since peanut butter is not terribly European (I remember smuggling a Family Size jar of smooth PB to a friend in Prague) and probably not India/Pakistan/Bangladesh.
So, are you a peanut butter hawk or dove? Do you believe that global peanut butter domination can be achieved through diplomacy or sheer force?
Back in WWII there was a saying about the American soldiers taking leave during the campaigns in the Pacific: “over paid, over sexed and over here”. In exchange for taking many of our most beautiful women back to the US they mollified us with the introduction of peanut butter. However, we don’t really do PB and chocolate or PB and jelly (which i think is what we call jam over here). It is purely a puritan one spread only relationship.
I am a peanut butter pacifist. I’m also considered un-Australian because i don’t like vegemite.
So you just put peanut butter on bread and call it a day? Or have you developed the “spoon-in-jar” habit as well? These days I prefer a slice of burnt toast, slathered with a generous helping of PB and topped with a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Nothing better.
You can keep your vegemite. It’s like spreading concentrated soup base on toast, only funkier. The little jar is cute, though. I like the colors.
But one thing we can all agree on is Nutella. Am I right?
I’m big on spoon — just carry it around for awhile, and no bread. Haven’t tried salt wow. When on bread, my fave is with apple slices. Wonderful food, peanut butter. More peeps than we realize live on it.
I haven’t even finished the post, but Butterfingers makes cups? Gross.
P.s. The worst part of diaphragm is the g.
Crap! Now I realize that I actually spelled it wrong here. I think both versions are acceptable, but with the ‘g’ it’s extra creepy!