Saturday, December 17, 2011

“12 Days of Christmas” Day 5, It's All About "Candy Canes”

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. by Clement Clarke Moore

We are at Day 5, as we continue with the “12 Days of Christmas.” Today is all about one of my favorites, Candy Canes. I have 3 fun easy recipes for your holiday gatherings. Candy Cane Cookies, Peppermint Bark, and a delicious holiday Candy Cane Cocktail. You can’t possibly go wrong with that trio of goodies.

Some Fun Facts about Candy Canes:
1. For 200 years, the candy cane came in only one color-white.
2. National Candy Cane Day is celebrated December 26th in the United States.
3. The world’s largest Candy Cane was created by Paul Ghinelli and measured 58 feet and 2 1/4 inches.
4. Each year 1.76 billion Candy Canes are made-enough to stretch from Santa Clause, IN to N. Pole, AK and back 32 times.
5. Candy Canes on the Christmas tree symbolize the Shepherds in the fields on that first Christmas night.
6. Peppermint is recommend to enhance memory. It improves blood flow to the brain and is believed to increase your concentration power.
Day 5: Candy Cane
Put a twist on your holiday cookies that are shaped like “Candy Canes.” These impressive Christmas cookies, flavored with peppermint, make a tasty treat. With a little food coloring and a small twist you can turn simple cookie dough into an edible treat!

Candy Cane Cookies
Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee

1 box sugar cookie mix
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for surface
Red or Green food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract (you can also use vanilla instead of peppermint)

Preheat oven to 325° F. In bowl, combine sugar cookie mix, melted butter, egg, cream cheese, and flour; mix together to form dough. Separate dough into 2 equal portions and place in 2 different bowls. Add red/green food coloring gradually to one bowl of dough, kneading together until desired shade is created. (small drops at a time) To second bowl of uncooked dough, add peppermint or vanilla extract and knead together. On a floured work surface, shape each dough into balls and then roll each ball into 1/4 inch wide ropes, each about 6 inches long. For each cookie, carefully twist some of the red /green and white ropes of dough together and shape into a Candy Cane. Spread Candy Canes out on cookies sheets and bake on top shelf of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool before serving. Yield: Serves 25 cookies depending on your candy cane size.
Peppermint Bark is a classic Christmas treat. Can you resist chocolate with crisp cool bits of Candy Canes mixed together? I know I can’t. This delicious, easy “Peppermint Bark” makes a wonderful holiday gift, wrapped in a pretty box with a big red ribbon. Anything with chocolate, screams Christmas heaven!

“Peppermint Bark

Crushed Candy Canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional

Place Candy Canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4- inch chunks or smaller. (I would suggest covering the plastic bag with a towel, so if the bag breaks, the candy doesn’t go all over the place. I know from experience)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.) You will need to refrigerate the bark if there are any leftovers.
There are some occasions that call for an elegant cocktail, and this smooth drink can fit any celebration. This “Candy Cane Cocktail” is fitting for any winter festivity, whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, or New Years. Option: Garnish with a small candy cane or create a candy cane rim with either colored sugar or crushed candy canes.

Candy Cane Cocktail
Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee

1 shot of vanilla rum
1 shot white chocolate liqueur (recommended: Godiva)
1 shot of peppermint schnapps
1 Candy Cane to garnish

Add all liquid ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into martini glass. Garnish with Candy Cane. Yield: Serves 1 person

Till Next Time………

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