Sure, they look nice and jaunty hanging from the tree or
stuffed inside a stocking, but like other excesses of the season, once
the big day has passed, candy canes become passe. You could save them
up to send to school with your child or dump them at the company
lunchroom table come the new year, but that’s sort of lame. Better
would be to use them as a creative, flavorful and colorful ingredient
in baked goods and other sweet treats.
Or head to Liverpool, where Shawn
Liggett and Jean Wanish operate Norma B’s Chocolates, 309 Vine St.
(open Mondays through Fridays, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.
to 2 p.m.; call 457-3100). Open since April 10, the shop sells
peppermint bark made of white chocolate and pieces of candy canes. But
shop quick because Liggett expects he’ll stop making the confection
“I will be selling it for a few weeks
after Christmas since it is a wintry item,” he says. The bark sells for
$10.95 a pound, and Liggett will either break some up for you or sell
you a block. “It’s sold quite well, this is the second batch I’ve made.”
He made the first bunch, all 20 pounds
of it, in mid-November. And it’s only in a white chocolate. “I don’t
think peppermint would do well with milk chocolate,” he says, “or dark.”
As with most things to do with religious
holidays, the origins of the particular item are nebulous at best. And
so it is with the candy cane, that curved piece of yumminess that
somehow tastes better in December. The first legend, from the Spangler
Web site, www.spanglercandy.com, says that a choirmaster in Germany in
1670 handed out sugar sticks to his young singers to keep them quiet
during long living crèche ceremonies. To honor the occasion, he had
them bent into shepherd’s crooks.
Another legend holds that an Indiana
candy maker wanted to create a confection that could be a reminder of
Christ, so he devised a candy cane. The white symbolizes the virgin
birth and the red stands for the blood Christ shed while on the cross.
(If that’s the case, then why don’t we eat candy canes on Easter as
well? I’m just asking.). The candy is formed in a “J” shape, for
“Jesus” and to represent the staff held by the shepherds in the fields.
Whatever legend you believe, it all adds
up to one sweet treat that kids of all ages anticipate every Christmas.
Of course, these days, there are green-and-white candy canes and
multicolored ones, variations on the theme, if you will. No matter the
color, there tend to be leftovers. With that in mind, here are a few
treats you can whip up after Christmas, and perhaps serve on New Year’s
Day to start another tradition.
These recipes are courtesy of www.recipe 4living.com, and are but two of many on that Web site.
These are a cool and refreshing cookie and a fabulous addition to your post-Christmas desserts.
1¼ cups crushed peppermint candy
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
¾ cup butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Grind or crush the peppermint candies in 1/3 cup
of the sugar until powdery (a few tiny pieces are OK). Mix flour and
salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Mix the butter, eggs and
remaining sugar together in a large bowl. Add in vanilla and peppermint
extracts. Add the flour mixture 1/3 at
a time to the butter mixture. Form the dough into small balls, about an
inch wide. Roll the balls of dough in the crushed candy mixture and
place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for one minute, remove and roll
them in the candy sugar again. Cool on wax paper.