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story.lead_photo.caption Heavenly Candy Bar Cake is decorated with assorted candy bars. ... Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

What's better than your favorite candy bar? A dessert that tastes like your favorite candy bar.

Inspired by popular favorites such as Twix and Butterfinger, the following desserts are a great way to use leftover Halloween candy — or an excuse to buy more.

Either way, they're sure to satisfy a serious sweet tooth.

From bar cookies and layer cakes to popcorn and s'mores, we collected a range of treats that star some of our favorite candies. The recipe difficulty ranges from almost effortless (Twix Bar Cookies) to some experience required (Heavenly Candy Bar Cake).

Although most of the following recipes call for specific candy bars, the recipes are versatile, so feel free to swap in your favorite.

Most Butterfinger cake recipes call for drizzling the cake with caramel sauce and condensed milk, and then piling on a layer of prepared whipped topping, producing a cloyingly sweet cake that loses much of its peanut essence.

To keep the peanut flavor in the forefront and cut back on all that unnecessary sweetness, we skipped the caramel sauce and condensed milk and opted for a rich, peanut-butter-and-Butterfinger-infused buttercream frosting in place of the whipped topping.

Butterfinger Cake

1 ¾ cups butter, softened, divided use

1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt, divided use

1 ¼ cups milk

12 ounces Butterfinger candy bars, divided use

1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter

4 cups confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or line 20 to 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

In a mixing bowl, beat ¾ cup of the butter until creamy.

Gradually add the granulated sugar to the creamed butter, about ¼ cup at a time, beating on medium until combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Then beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and ½ teaspoon of the salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk. Beat on low after each addition.

Add candy bars to the bowl of a blender/food processor and process until they are pea-size crumbs. Stir half of the crushed candy bars into the batter. Set the remaining crushed candy bars aside.

Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the frosting: Combine the remaining cup butter, the peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, remaining vanilla and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, then add the crushed candy bars. Stir in on low, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and creamy.

Spread Butterfinger Candy Bar Frosting over the cooled cake or cupcakes.

Makes 24 servings.

Whether you're a left Twix or a right Twix, this bar cookie combines the best of both — it's a bar cookie that tastes like a Twix and contains chopped up Twix.

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Twix Bars ... Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Twix Bars

1 (15- to 19-ounce) box white cake mix

1 egg

½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup coarsely chopped shortbread cookies

1 ¼ cups caramel bits (caramel baking chips)

1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 ½ cups roughly chopped Twix candy bars

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving overhang on all sides. Coat foil or paper with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix, egg and oil until combined. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly puffy.

Top crust with shortbread, caramel bits, chocolate chips and Twix. Return pan to oven and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 15 bars.

Recipe adapted from Out of the Box Desserts by Haley Parker

Can't make up your mind which candy bar to turn into a cake? There's no need with this one.

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Heavenly Candy Bar Cake ... Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Heavenly Candy Bar Cake

About 5 ½ ounces (9 fun-size or 21 miniature) chocolate and nougat candy bars such as Snickers, Milky Way or Three Musketeers, plus more for decorating

½ cup butter

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup shortening

3 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 ½ cups buttermilk

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

3 cups miniature marshmallows

¾ cup butter

¾ cup evaporated milk

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking squares, chopped

6 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Additional candies for decorating (we used Reese's Pieces, Almond Joy, KitKat and Twix)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the 5 ½ ounces of candy bars and the butter; cook, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer about 3 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

In a spouted measuring cup, stir together buttermilk and baking soda.

Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in melted candy bar mixture and vanilla. Spoon batter into the prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

For the frosting:

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the marshmallows, butter, evaporated milk and unsweetened chocolate and cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth.

Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl. Place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating at low speed with an electric mixer. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat 5 minutes or until frosting is cool, thick, and spreadable. Stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Spread about a third of the frosting evenly between cake layers. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Garnish top and sides with assorted candy bars.

Makes 16 servings.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living

To satisfy a sweet tooth with a salty craving, look no further than this popcorn.

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Sweet and Salty Candy Bar Popcorn ... Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR.

Sweet and Salty Candy Bar Popcorn

½ cup salted butter

½ cup light corn syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 cups popped popcorn, salted

1 ½ cups salted pretzel sticks

1 cup salted nuts (any kind or a mix)

1 ½ cups chopped leftover candy bars (we used Snickers, Reese's and KitKat)

½ cup chocolate chips OR M&Ms

½ cup candy corn, optional

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper or generously coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Whisk until butter has melted. Bring to a boil; boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in baking soda and vanilla.

In a very large bowl, combine the popcorn, pretzels and nuts. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into the prepared roasting pan, spreading it in an even layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Add the chocolate chips (or M&Ms) and candy bars; bake 15 minutes more. Let cool completely. Once cool, break into pieces and add candy corn, if using. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 14 cups.

Milk chocolate is the classic choice, but any kind of melty chocolate bar can be used in these s'mores.

Fun Size S'mores

4 to 8 large marshmallows

8 graham cracker squares

4 "fun-size" candy bars, such as Milky Way, Reeses, 3 Musketeers

Toast one or two marshmallows — we had good results using a long-tined fork over a gas burner. Place the toasted marshmallows on a graham cracker half, top with the candy bar, then place another graham cracker half on top. Press gently to sandwich together.

If you have an electric or induction cooktop, or simply don't want to fool with an open flame, heat broiler. Place half of the graham cracker squares on a broiler-safe pan and top each with one or two marshmallows. Place under broiler until marshmallows are golden brown, about 1 minute. Immediately top with candy, then another graham cracker square. Press gently to sandwich together.

Makes 4 s'mores.

Food on 10/31/2018

Print Headline: RECIPES: Candy bar cakes and treats make good use of ‘leftover’ Halloween candy

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