Candy Canes Recycled

According to legend candy canes originated in Cologne, Germany in 1670 as a means to keep children quiet during the long church service. A crook was added to the top of the all-white peppermint flavored candy sticks to resemble a Shepard’s crook, a reminder of the Shepard’s that visited the Christ Child. Today many Christian Church’s use candy canes upside down forming the letter “J”, for Jesus, with the white stripes a symbol of Christ’s purity and the red a sign of his blood.

Candy canes began to appear as decorations on Christmas trees around 1882 and the red stripes were not added until the 20th century. Today candy canes come in a variety of colors and flavors but the traditional red and white striped peppermint canes are the most popular.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. With 2 billion candy canes sold between Hanukkah and Christmas each year no wonder so many candy canes are still hanging around after the New Year. If you are lucky enough to have any candy canes left over from the holidays here are a few creative ideas on ways to use them.

Create candy hearts for Valentine’s Day. Two candy canes placed together at the crook become a heart. Use clear tape to tape the canes still in their cellophane wrappers into a heart shape or hot glue can be used. If using the candy canes minus the wrapper royal icing can be used to form the heart. Use the candy hearts to decorate a cake, on a handmade Valentine’s Day Card or in a floral arrangement.

Make peppermint flavored sugar. Peppermint sugar is great to have on hand to sprinkle on top of sugar cookies, to spoon into hot tea or cocoa, to toss over hot popcorn, even in homemade salad dressing. Place broken candy cane pieces inside a plastic zip lock bag and pound until finely pulverized. Store in an airtight container or glass jar with a tight filling lid.

Turn candy canes into candy pieces to use in baking. Place candy canes in plastic zip lock bags and break into ¼ “- ½” chunky pieces. Add the peppermint flavored candy pieces to chocolate chip cookie dough before baking. Sprinkle candy pieces on top of cupcakes that have been frosted or in and on chocolate flavored brownies.

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