There are certain foods that have a finite season where the price is perfect and the taste sublime. However, at this time of year, when youre talking about a prime-time specialty item, its all about the candy cane.
The candy cane is that once-a-year item that you can find in abundance until after the holidays and then it disappears. I say, plan ahead; buy now, buy a lot (because they store very well and Im going to give you lots of yummy recipes) and store the extras until you need them.
So, what is the best way to store candy canes? The best way to store any hard candy for a length of time is to place it in a resealable plastic bag and store in a dry place. Do not store the candy canes in the freezer or refrigerator; the moisture is too high and will cause them to get sticky.
In the event of a candy cane emergency – such as, you cant find any – you can always substitute those round peppermint candies that are readily available.
White Candy Cane Fudge
2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes
1 to 2 drops red food coloring (not too much)
Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. In a saucepan combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk. Heat over a low flame, stirring frequently until almost melted. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until totally smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring and crushed candy canes. Mix quickly and spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Refrigerate (do not cover) for 2 to 3 hours and then cut into bite-sized squares. Makes at least 24 pieces or more, depending on how you cut the pieces.
Oreo Mint Balls
1 12-ounce package of Oreo cookies (plain not Double Stuff)
2/3 cup crushed candy cane pieces (not too big)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 package Chocolate Almond Bark
Mini chocolate chips or sprinkles for decorating
Put a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and set it aside. In the bowl of a food processor combine the cookies and broken candy canes. Process until combined and its totally crumbs. Add half of the cream cheese to the mixture and process to combine. Add the remaining cream cheese and process to combine. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture into balls and place it on the prepared pan. When you use up all the dough, place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Melt the dipping chocolate in a microwaveable bowl. Remove the pan from the freezer. Using a long bamboo skewer dip the cookie balls, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. Place the dipped balls back on the waxed paper and then sprinkle the chocolate or sprinkles over the balls. Makes 24 to 30 depending on the size of the balls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Candy Cane Cheesecake
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 1/3 cups white baking pieces
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 8-ounce carton mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup finely crushed candy canes
2 ounces white chocolate or 1/3 cup white baking pieces
Crushed candy canes for garnish
For crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together graham crackers and butter until combined. Press crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan (do not go up the sides of pan.) Bake for 10 minutes then cool to room temperature.
For filling: In a microwaveable bowl melt the 8 ounces white chocolate and set it aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and salt with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the melted chocolate and extract until smooth and combined, scraping sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time until combined. Stir in 3/4 cup candy. Pour the filling onto the crust. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a 2 1/2 -inch area around the outside edge of the cheesecake seems set when gently shaken.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes then, using a sharp small knife, loosen the cake from the sides of pan. Cool for an additional 45 minutes. Remove sides of the spring form pan and cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, place the cheesecake on a serving plate (keep the cheesecake on the bottom of the spring form pan).
In a microwaveable bowl melt the white chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the cheesecake and then sprinkle the chopped candy canes over the top. Cut in wedges with a sharp knife dipped in warm water. (To store any remaining cheesecake, cover and chill in refrigerator up to two days.)