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Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Candy Cane Day!

Yep! the day after Christmas is National Candy Cane Day! How apropos. Have you ever given thought to the history ensnared in the beginnings of the first ever candy cane? Well, you may be surprised to discover there's an everlasting candy cane controversy (long but well researched link:)) that I'm not about to tackle this Candy Cane Day. I mean really, candy canes are sheer delights of minty sweetness why would I want to explore their questionable history today? I'd much rather share an assortment of candy cane recipes. Oh, I don't just mean the sweet itself, there's all sorts of things you can create by either using the candy cane motif or even those broken bits of candy canes still stuck in their wrappers.

Candy Cane Baking

The first recipe that I came across which deliciously uses the form of the candy cane was found at the Recipe Girl blog. Lori has produced an incredible looking Candy Cane Coffee Cake. She also posted a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Icing which uses crushed candy canes. Now, there's a good use for all those broken candy canes! At Rah Cha Chow, I found a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting. This recipe is more up my alley, although, I will probably never actually try it because as you know, I'm not much of a baker. But, it is a good beginning recipe since it is made using a box cake mix and instant vanilla pudding.  I got the biggest kick out of these Candy Cane Cookies and this Leftover Candy Cake.  Oh, I mustn't forget the Peppermint Bark I found at the Good Eats & Sweet Treats blog and The Hungry Housewife blog. They both look so incredibly good. Mary Ann over at Meet Me in the Kitchen  combines a triple cookie recipe which includes Candy Cane Twists.  Where oh where is a girl to begin?

Do you know how to make candy canes? It wasn't difficult to find a candy cane recipe at Candy Cane Facts which is a site devoted to yes, candy canes. 

Candy Cane Sips

Since this post is a celebration of candy canes, why not include a few more links. One site I came across called Coffee Fun, had two recipes which I thought I would include. The one for home made candy canes is quite similar to the ones above but, I like the twist on the Chocolate Candy Cane Stirrers. However, I'm really intrigued by beverages which are touted with candy cane flavor. Especially, those which include, alcohol. Emeril's Candy Cane drink which includes vodka and Grand Marnier sounds too good to be true.  I happen to be quite fond of chocolate so the recipe for Chocolate Covered Candy Cane which includes Godiva® chocolate liqueur sounds well, "divine:)" Today, as I write this post, I really wouldn't mind a simple cup of Candy Cane Cocoa by my side even if it doesn't include alcohol.

So, you see, just because candy canes have a questionable legacy, maybe that's why they resemble a question mark, there are lots of creative uses and enjoyments sticking to their legend. There are various things that can be done with leftover candy canes and Over 3 Dozen Creative Uses. For example, this year, Kathy over at The Food Company Cookbooks blog shared a recipe leaflet called Gift Box Butter Cookies In it, there's a crafty idea which uses candy canes as decorations on The Scotchy-Chocolate Shop. Cute:) I also came across this Candy Cane Mouse which looks like a pretty simple crafting project.

In 2001, the Guinness Book of World Records bestowed the record for the longest handmade candy cane on Paul Ghinelli, who created a 58-foot, 2 1/4-inch cane at a restaurant in Leslie, Mich. He broke his own 1998 record (16 feet) and 2000 record (36 feet). He planned to chop it up and auction it off, but the restaurant burned down a couple of weeks later. source

If you plied your way through the history of the candy cane, you probably discovered that their beginnings were in the shape of pencil thin sticks with an added crook:) A while back, during National Candy Month, I included a few scanned recipes from Hood's Book of Home Made Candies published in 1883. There was a recipe in that book called Vanilla Cream Sticks. I thought I would revisit that recipe in a candy cane state of mind. This time, I will type it out with some explanation.

Vanilla Cream Sticks
Boil three pounds of granulated sugar with a pint of water; let it dissolve slowly on a cool part of the range; then add a large tablespoonful of vinegar and a teaspoonful of gum arabic dissolved in a very little water. Boil till it is brittle, then remove from the fire, and flavor with vanilla, peppermint, cinnamon, or whatever you wish, only remembering that all work must be quick. Rub the hands with sweet oil or butter, and pull vigorously till the candy is white; then twist or braid it, or pull it out into long thin strips, and cut it off. Ed Note: Sounds like a candy cane recipe to me or, a candy cane taffy pull, don't you think?

Gum Arabic

I'll admit, when I posted this recipe in June, I should have tried to find out a bit more about gum arabic. I don't know about you, but it isn't one of those things I just happen to have in my pantry. It seems, it is found in some pantries though. For instance, look at this recipe for Tree Sap Fudge found over at the Treat A Week Recipes blog. That's where I learned that gum arabic is also a common ingredient in processed foods. As soon as I read that, my days of label reading flashed before my eyes. I don't read as many labels as I use to when the kids were younger. Perhaps, I should. I do wish they would print them larger though, These ol' brown eyes ain't what they use to be:) Gum Arabic is also like an "edible" glue. It's great to use as a "glue" to repair broken pieces of fondant and sometimes used as an ingredient in Royal Icing. The role of gum arabic in confectionery products is usually either to prevent crystallization of sugar or to act as an emulsifier. It's also used as a thickner in candy, ice cream, and yogurt.  Anyway, here's what I found out about Gum Arabic.

A natural additive obtained from the bark of the acacia tree, gum arabic (acacia powder) is colorless, tasteless, and odorless and is used in commercial food processing to thicken, emulsify, and stabilize foods such as candy, ice cream, and sweet syrups. Gum arabic is also used in cake decorating to make gum paste more elastic.
Candy jellies such as jujubes, fruit bums, fruit pastilles, gum drops, and cough drops have been made with gum arabic for many years. These depositors or moguls may have been invented by Venetian candy markers in the beginning of the 19th century. The process involves crushing and sifting the gum, followed by dissolving it in water to 50% concentration, skimming and decanting the solution, and mixing it with sucrose and corn syrup. The cooled mixture is then mixed with required acid, color, and flavor, deposited in starch-coated molds, and dried at a selected temperature. After several days, the gum candies are unmounted, depowdered on screens, brushed to remove starch, and glazed with wax or oil and, if desired, sugared. Such candies are soft but firm and long-lasting in the mouth. They contain 50% less sugar than hard candies. The gum gives a cleaner, finer taste. Pectins, gelatin-gum arabic mixtures, and thin-boiling starches can be used as replacements for gum arabic. source

Happy Candy Cane Day!

Resources
1. Candy Cane Day
2. The origins of the candy cane
3. Candy Canes and their history
4. Candy Cane Making Tour Online
5. Organic Gum Arabic (Acacia) (a place to purchase)
Recipes
1. Candy Cane Fudge
2. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies by The Pioneer Woman Cooks
3. Adorable Candy Cane Reindeer from Taste of Home
4. Candy Cane Blossoms from Hershey's
7. Peppermint Mousse
8. Peppermint Mousse (another recipe)
9. Candy Cane Cocoa Gift In A Jar Recipe

5 Nibbles:

The Blonde Duck said...

Happy Candy Cane day to you as well! Only you could have sniffed this out! :)

Kathy said...

I know where to look now when I need to know anything about candy canes! Very nice search engine you've created, too. I've noticed you utilize several of the Google tools. Perhaps this next year I might actually get around to trying some more of them myself.

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Duckie! It sure has been a month of sweets!

Hi Kathy! I love when I just "point" to the history and get to "talk" recipes:)

I've had the search engine a while but now I'm going to try to "personalize" it a bit. I have a few "tricks" up my sleeve for 2009!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Louise. I just realised I didnt have a link in my sidebar to this site (I have Kitchen Retro linked). The omission is now fixed. Thanks for the fun.

RecipeGirl said...

Wonderful round up of candy cane treats! Sorry to get back to you late... took a few days off for the holiday. Thanks for including me :)