Trick or Treat: 8 Candy-Inspired Dishes and Drinks

Avoid the candy bowl with these gourmet alternatives
October 27, 2015
by Sarah Freeman

They say you are never too old to go trick-or-treating. But try explaining that to the stranger whose door you are knocking on when they ask why a 32-year-old dressed like a zombie is demanding another Snickers bar. Instead of trying to pass for a seven-year-old, opt for an adult version of the candy you loved as a kid with these gourmet treats from local restaurants.

Mounds Over Apennine at 312 Chicago
“I wanted to create a Halloween cocktail that embraced the flavors of one of my favorite candies, an Almond Joy, but also have it evoke the Italian flavors present in our restaurant," head bartender Jennifer Knott explains. The sherry cocktail channels the flavors with Bicerin Chocolate Liqueur — an Italian chocolate liqueur with a rich nutty aroma — and Averna, an Italian amaro with more caramel than herbal notes. The cocktail is finished with coconut liqueur and served as a digestif or nightcap.

Candy Corn Cupcake at Foodlife
Another treat that remains ingrained in Halloween culture are the sugary triangles known as candy corn, and executive pastry chef Yasmin Gutierrez takes an aesthetic cue from the iconic candy for her seasonal cupcakes. Each cupcake is made in-house and topped with tri-colored frosting. "I've always loved Halloween, so being able to combine my passion for baking with the fun holiday was exciting for me,” she says.

Spicy Chocolate and Cashew Magic at La Sirena Clandestina
Indeed, it is magic that makes Marianna Reynolds’ new dessert harden before your eyes. Inspired by Magic Shell, the invention that wowed kids around the country, the dessert combines rich chocolate with piri piri peppers for a hint of heat that creeps in at the end of each bite. A pepper blend is cold-fused into the cream that's used to make dark chocolate mousse and milk chocolate caramel, which then get covered in the magical chocolate coating.

Macau Rice Crisp at Fat Rice
We dare anyone to deny the deliciousness of a Rice Krispies treat, regardless of age. While the ones we grew up on were wrapped in cellophane and tasted more like chemicals than marshmallows, that's not the case at Fat Rice, where chefs combine real marshmallows with rice cereal, as well as threads of nori to give each square an umami-filled finish. It is topped with sesame and pork floss — fluffy braised and dried pork — which puts the fat in this rice treat.

Whopper Treats at Summer House Santa Monica
While Fat Rice can keep stuffing their Rice Krispies treats with seaweed, the team at Summer House found a more familiar additive: Whopper — aka the malted milk balls — are added to their bars for an extra bit of crunch. These treats are exclusive to the Chicago location and can be found in the pastry case alongside other fusion sweets, such as Rice Krispies treat–studded chocolate chip cookies.

Foie Gras Snickers at The Aviary
Chances are good that you're going to this innovative West Loop cocktail bar for the drinks, but don't completely overlook the food menu. It's dotted with creative takes on familiar dishes, such as a walking taco served with lobster in a bag of housemade chips or, one of the long-standing favorites, a take on the classic Snickers bar: a bed of foie gras that's topped with nougat and is coated in chocolate. It's served on a pedestal as if to say, "Yes, this is the best candy bar you will ever eat."

Churro of the Dead at Cantina 1910
Pastry chef Andrew Pingul honors his late grandfather with another gourmet take on the Snickers bar. The special sweet, available on Halloween weekend, pairs peanut butter mousse, salted caramel and dark chocolate with a freshly fried churro. "Since Day of the Dead celebrates the life of our loved ones who have passed away, I decided to do a play on the Snickers bar, which was my grandfather's favorite candy bar — he passed 15 years ago on Halloween.” 

S & S Cracker Jack at Swift & Sons
One of the standouts on the menu at the recently opened Boka Group steakhouse is pastry chef Meg Galus’ take on Cracker Jacks. Her tribute to the caramel corn (which dates back to the late 1800s) deconstructs the flavors with peanut butter mousse, popcorn sherbet and salted caramel. In case you don’t believe that it tastes even better than the original, she includes a few pieces of caramel corn for comparison.