Recipe and photos by Brandon Matzek
I always seem to have a handful of leftover candy after an evening of Halloween festivities. This small mound of treats typically dwindles via a process I call "casual grazing." This year, I have a more ambitious plan for my surplus sweets: a Candy Bourbon Milkshake. Frosty scoops of vanilla ice cream are blended with chilled espresso, smoky bourbon, chopped candy and a dark, salted bourbon caramel sauce. Bitterness from the espresso and caramel sauce cut the sweetness of the ice cream and candy, creating a balanced sip that goes down nice and easy.
The flavor of this milkshake will vary based on the type of candy added. I used Twix Fun Size here, and the resulting milkshake had a pleasant nuttiness with a chocolate undertone. You can also blend in Snickers, Milky Way, Almond Joy (one of my favorites) or KitKat. Cookies and/or candies with chocolate, nuts, caramel or salt will pair perfectly with the base flavors of vanilla, espresso and bourbon. Avoid fruit-flavored candies like Starburst, Nerds, Mike and Ike and Laffy Taffy.
Candy Bourbon Milkshake
To make the salted bourbon caramel:
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good quality bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve)
1 tsp. flaky sea salt (or kosher salt)
To make the milkshake:
3 scoops good quality vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup brewed espresso, chilled (or strongly brewed coffee)
2 tbsp. good quality bourbon (I used Woodford Reserve)
1 tbsp. salted bourbon caramel (recipe below)
2 small candy bars, chopped (I used Twix Fun Size, but many others would work well here)
Whipped cream, for topping
Flaky sea salt, for topping
Make the caramel. Add sugar, water and corn syrup to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, clamp on a lid and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the lid and check the color and texture of your caramel. It should still be clear, and the bubbles should be large. Continue to cook with the lid off. As the mixture starts to brown and darken in color, gently swirl the pan to mix - do not stir here. Once the mixture is a dark amber color (not black), remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up violently. Let the caramel settle for one minute, then stir in the bourbon and flaky sea salt. If the caramel has seized up a bit (hardened), simply return the saucepan to a low flame and stir until the mixture softens. Let the caramel cool completely before adding to the milkshake. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Shake it up: Add ice cream, chilled espresso, bourbon, 1 tbsp. of salted bourbon caramel and chopped candy bars to a blender. Blend until smooth and well combined. The texture should be thick, but still drinkable.
Finish and serve. Pour milkshake into a chilled glass and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.