Peppermint for the holidays
Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson
You know it’s holiday time when you see candy canes in the stores. Try using them when you are baking holiday goodies.
A lot of us have a long-standing tradition of getting a candy cane in our Christmas stocking. I like the red-and-white ones, with the peppermint flavor. Nowadays there are almost unlimited flavors and colors, but I always go back to the originals.
I confess that while I like candy canes, I avoid Starlight Mints, those round, red-and-white disks. Yes, they are both peppermint candy, but for some reason the candy canes taste better to me. I think the formula is different, but I could be wrong. Well, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is hoping you are staying warm and safe as winter approaches.
If you like peppermint candy, here are a few recipes that might be to your liking.
Homemade peppermint patties
3 to 4 tablespoons half-and-half, divided
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces chocolate candy coating or chocolate bark
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
1. Mix together 2 tablespoons of half-and-half, the coconut oil, corn syrup, peppermint extract, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix in confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time.
2. Add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons of half-and-half, if dough is too crumbly. Form the dough into a ball and roll out into a circle about 1/4-inch thick on a silicone mat (or other suitable surface). Place dough in the freezer for about 15 minutes until firm.
3. Use a small circle cookie cutter (about a 2-inch size) to cut out peppermint patties. Return to the freezer for about 10 minutes.
4. Gather the scraps of peppermint patty dough, form a ball and repeat the freezing and cutting of patties until all of the dough has been used.
5. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Working in batches, remove several peppermint patties at a time from the freezer and coat them in chocolate. Place on a silicone mat and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Continue with the remaining peppermint patties. Makes about 25.
Candy cane dip
Great served with chocolate wafers or cookies such as Oreos.
1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1 container (8-oz.) whipped topping
1. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy.
2. Fold in crushed candy canes and whipped topping until well mixed.
3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 12 servings.
Peppermint candy Bundt cake
For the cake:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)
Red food coloring
For the glaze:
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons crushed candy canes
Note: If using sour milk: place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a measuring cup and fill with enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir few times and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda and salt). Set aside. Generously grease and flour the Bundt pan. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat together oil and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts and beat well again. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
4. Scoop 2 cups of the batter into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1 to 2 drops of red food coloring. Pour half of the white batter into the bottom of the pan. Pour half of the white batter into the bottom of the pan. Top with white batter. Finish with the remaining red batter. Make few gentle swirls in the batter with a knife.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool the cake for 2 minutes in the pan. Place a cake plate over the top of the pan and carefully flip it upside down. If the cake won’t release right away, tap the pan gently until it does. Cool cake completely before glazing.
7. To make the glaze: Melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler. Let cool slightly. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth, then glaze the cake. Let set for just 1 minute. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Peppermint candy cheesecake
Now we’re getting serious.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup sugar, divided
6 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup crushed candy canes or other hard peppermint candies
Mini candy canes, optional
1. Preheat oven to 325. Blend crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons melted butter in bottom of an ungreased 8-inch round springform pan; press evenly over bottom.
2. Blend sour cream, remaining sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape sides.
3. Add cream cheese and blend; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter until completely smooth. Fold in crushed candies and pour over crust.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. (Middle should be just a bit jiggly and not cracked). Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of pan. Cool; refrigerate overnight. Loosen pan sides and remove springform; garnish with whipped topping, crushed candies and mini candy canes, if desired.