Halloween is our theme this time, and it occurred to me that there was more to Halloween cooking than treats (which everyone buys ready-wrapped anyway) and party food. There’s the candy your kids don’t like. What to do with that? I bought some cheap molasses candy and started experimenting.
At home, my husband protested that he remembered those candies and liked them; my son tried one, said it tasted like “a dollar store Tootsie Roll without the chocolate”, then immediately ate another one; and I found out that they had made someone’s 10 Worst Halloween Candies list. It sounded like I’d found something with just the right level of challenge.
First I tried melting half a dozen of them in a little milk, and adding cocoa and vanilla. This made a passable chocolate sauce (at room temperature — when it’s chilled you could use it as frosting), but it had a strong aftertaste of molasses. However, if you’re interested, the mixture is: five or six candies, two tablespoons of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. Double or triple as needed.
The molasses taste reminded me of anise, so I decided to go with that. I also decided to make a complete dessert out of it. Recently I’ve been trying variations on this vanilla pudding recipe, using blending flour in place of cornstarch, so this time I thought I’d use the candies in place of the sugar.
As I mention in the recipe, you can decorate the pudding with more candies; they don’t sink or melt. Though if you’re bothering with this dish, you probably don’t like eating them straight . . . And take that Worst Candy article with a grain of salt — it also mentions two of my childhood favorites, Good n Plenty and black licorice. If you like licorice, you’ll like this pudding.
- 6 molasses candies (plus more for garnish if you really want)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon anise extract
- 3 tablespoons blending flour
- In a small pot, heat the milk and candy over medium heat, whisking constantly, till candy is melted and mixture bubbles at the edges.
- Stir in anise extract.
- Add flour, a very small amount at a time, whisking constantly to blend. Reduce heat to low if mixture threatens to boil over.
- When all the flour is blended in, remove from heat and transfer to serving bowl or individual dessert bowls.
- Garnish with extra candies if you don’t mind eating them as is.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour or till set.