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What, you thought Halloween was the only holiday that has you raid the candy aisle? Please. The Christmas season is the grand finale, your “last chance” to really indulge in all the things before the new year hits and you have to convince yourself to eat responsibly for a month.

Candy naturally fits into many Christmas staples: Gum drops in the love-it-or-hate-it (or is it love to hate it?) classic fruitcake. The red and green M&M buttons needed to dress up your gingerbread men. But as it turns out, there are even more, less obvious ways to incorporate your favorite candies and candy bars into the holiday kitchen. From cute craft projects to creative spins on classic desserts, here are nine sweet ways to remind you this really is the most wonderful time of the year.

York Peppermint Bark

A Mom’s Take

You can go ahead and save the candy canes for decorating the tree. Here, the snackable chocolate bar gets its signature dose of minty freshness from pieces of York Peppermint Patty as opposed to the traditional crumbled candy cane topping. (Plus there’s the added bonus of not having to deal with candy cane invariably sticking to your teeth.) Get the recipe.

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Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

Amanda’s Cookin

Speaking of peppermint bark, if you want to get a little meta in the Christmas desserts department, try out this non-traditional trifle which intersperses crumbled pieces of the white chocolate-peppermint candy between layers of chocolate brownie and cheesecake pudding. Get the recipe.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake Roll (Yule Log)

Crazy For Crust

If you’re feeling a little been-there-done-that with the classic yule log filling flavors—raspberry; coffee; hazelnut; Frangelico—a standby favorite from the candy aisle may be just the source of inspiration you need this holiday season. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Remember, the sponge cake in a Buche de Noël is typically chocolate, and really, who makes a better couple than chocolate and peanut butter? Add a couple meringue mushrooms  and snowmen, and maybe some holly made out of fondant to give this cake more of a festive feel. Get the recipe.

Snickers and Brownie Pavlova

Baker’s Royale

We get it: In southern hemisphere countries like Australia and New Zealand, Christmas technically falls at the beginning of the summer season, so it makes sense that the traditional holiday dessert would be this light, crisp meringue cake studded with fruit and cream. But if you’re full steam ahead on the “I want to indulge because my diet doesn’t start until January” train, you ought to try this show-stopping Snickers and brownie-flavored rendition. Get the recipe.

Chocolate-Orange Panettone

Alexandra’s Kitchen

The much less maligned (albeit famously labor-intensive) Italian version of fruitcake  doesn’t usually include chocolate, but obviously I’m always just a little more excited by variations that do. The rum-soaked raisins that typically stud the sweet, yeasted bread are replaced in this recipe with chopped pieces of your favorite bittersweet chocolate bar. Meanwhile, fragrant orange blossom water and diced candied orange peel help keep the zesty citrus vibes of the traditional flavor profile intact. Get the recipe.

Milky Way Teddy Sleds

Edible Christmas crafting does not get any cuter than a Teddy Graham riding in a miniature Milky Way and candy cane sleigh. Get the recipe.

Rolo Pretzel Reindeer

I Heart Naptime

Or does it? Get the recipe.

Kit Kat “Gingerbread” House

The thing with the classic gingerbread house is that not only do they look too good to eat, they’re literally not too good to eat. It’s more about structural integrity and opulent, jaw-dropping design than flavor. Enter this genius, wish-you-thought-of-it-first idea: Ditch the jaw-breaking gingerbread and rock-hard icing in favor of Kit Kats and Hershey bars. Trust, this solid build is good enough to eat.

Hershey’s Kiss Wreath

Weekend Pursuit

Okay, so it’s not technically a Christmas dessert, per se. But come on, you have to admit that a wreath made out of holiday-hued chocolate kisses totally trumps the edible arrangement competition (sorry, fruit, I’ll see you next year). Anyone want to take the over/under on how full those wreaths are on Dec. 1 versus the 25th? Get the recipe.

Related Video: This Christmas Rugelach Tree Is a Chocoholic’s Dream

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Header image courtesy of Weekend Pursuit.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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