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How to make full use of Christmas candy canes

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Now that the Christmas season is in full swing, lots of candy canes are for sale in supermarkets and, sometimes, even in bookstores.  Having outgrown my childhood fondness for these colorful, peppermint treats, I’ve found other uses for them that are more suitable for grown-ups.  Here are some suggestions to make the most of this season’s candy canes.

1.  Use them as a stirrer for coffee.  Unwrap a small candy cane and use the pointed end (not the hook end) for stirring your coffee (use the hook end as your handle).  The warmth of the coffee will gradually melt the candy cane and infuse your coffee with a subtle, minty flavor.

2.  Likewise use a small candy cane to stir a cup of hot chocolate.  This is especially delightful for thick, Spanish-style chocolate, but it will work for cocoa mixes, too.

3.  Jazz up your milkshake.  Dip a candy cane into a tall glass of milkshake and hook it onto the rim of the glass.  Not only does this give your milkshake a merry holiday look, it also adds a mild peppermint flavor.

4.  Make a chocolate-covered candy cane.  Dip half of the candy cane into melted chocolate.  Let chocolate set.  Use it as stirrer as in the suggestions above—for coffee, hot chocolate and milk shakes.  It will add not just a minty flavor but a chocolate taste, too. Your coffee will taste like mocha (part coffee, part chocolate) and the hot chocolate will acquire a deeper chocolate flavor.

Here’s the recipe for chocolate candy cane.

Chocolate candy cane

1 c whipping cream

1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 candy canes (small to medium size)

Heat cream over low heat in a small saucepan until bubbles form on the sides (do not boil).  Turn off the heat. Pour in chocolate chips then cover saucepan for around three minutes.  Remove cover and stir mixture until chocolate melts.  Transfer mixture to a small, deep bowl and refrigerate until chocolate thickens,  but before it solidifies completely, around two hours.

Unwrap bottom ends of  candy canes.    Keep the wrappings on the upper ends of the canes so you can hold the canes without getting your hands sticky. Using a spoon, coat the bottom ends of the canes with the chocolate mixture.  Do this one cane at a time.  If desired, you may put several coatings of chocolate on the canes.  Let the canes rest crosswise on top of a bowl to let excess chocolate drip. Chill in refrigerator so the chocolate sets.  Use the canes as stirrers for coffee, hot chocolate and milkshakes.

Cook’s tips:

Chocolate chips must be at room temperature (not cold) so they’ll melt more easily when poured into the cream.

Be careful when unwrapping the candy canes so they don’t break.

The longer you use the candy canes as stirrer, the stronger the peppermint flavor becomes.

For more tips, recipes and stories, visit the author’s blog: www.normachikiamco.com, and Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/normachikiamco.  Follow on Twitter@NormaChikiamco.

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