Bless Your Spoon: Candy represents the spirit of Christmas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2021

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

No candy represents the spirit of Christmas like the candy cane. The legend of the holiday favorite is a beautiful old story that reminds us of the love God has for each one of us.

As the legend goes, the candy cane was first crafted back in the 18th century by a candy maker as a way to share the joy of the Good News at Christmas. Today, the confection is still passed from one to another during the holiday season. When you give the gift of a candy cane — you’re sharing love. You can use this simple candy to share the significance of Christmas — if you know the history of it.

When held upright, the candy forms the shape of a shepherd’s staff. Yet, if you turn it upside down, the cane forms the letter J, which stands for Jesus. The Bible tells us that sheep would hear Jesus’ voice and follow him — and he is a shepherd to us all.

A candy cane is a hard candy — much like a rock. Jesus is the rock we lean on — the strength we need at times of hardship. The red stripes of the cane represent Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross — the blood he shed for our sins so we could have eternal life and salvation. On the candy are white strips as well that represent the purity of Jesus and the holiness of he who was without sin.

The sweet fragrance of peppermint reminds us of the spices the wise men brought to Jesus. Also, the minty flavor is much like that of hyssop — an herb used for purification in the Old Testament.

The candy is often given to others as a gift — much like the gift Jesus gave to us — the beautiful gift of salvation. Before eating, peppermint is often broken or crushed, reminding us of the sacrifice Jesus made when he was crucified — and his body broken.

The peppermint in today’s recipes adds not only a beautiful message — but a festive look and flavor to holiday desserts. The minty taste comes in different forms. The herbal extract is crafted from fine mint oils — made from essential oils of peppermint leaves. Whether crushed or in form of an extract — the classic holiday favorite will add minty coolness and tingly taste. Whether in cakes, pies, cookies, or brownies — these recipes will put you in a holiday spirit.

With a wonderful message — the festive candy will breathe new life into your desserts this season. Let the candy cane remind us all of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. And may the Lord bless you as you share your faith in Christ with others during the Christmas season.

Candy Cane Cookies

• ½ cup softened butter

• ½ cup Crisco shortening

• 1 cup sifted, confectioner’s sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. almond extract

• 2½ cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. salt

• Red food coloring

• 1/3 cup crushed peppermint candy

• 1/3 cup sugar

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and shortening. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts and mix well. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Divide dough into equal halves. Tint one of the halves with red food coloring. On a lightly floured surface, shape both tinted and plain dough into 4½-inch rolls, and place side by side. Twist together. Curve one end down to look like a candy cane. Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 375-degree oven for 9 minutes or until lightly brown. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine finely crushed candy with sugar. Remove cookies from oven and while still warm, coat with candy mixture. Allow to cool. Makes 4 doz.

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

• 1 cup crushed chocolate cookie crumbs

• 3 Tbsp. sugar

• ¼ cup melted, salted butter

• ½ gallon softened peppermint ice cream

• Crushed hard peppermint candies

• Chocolate syrup

In a bowl, combine crushed cookie crumbs and sugar. Add butter and blend thoroughly. Press crust into bottom and sides of a deep-dish pie pan or a spring-form pan. Chill for 1 hour. Spoon softened ice cream into crust. Cover well and freeze overnight. When serving, garnish with crushed peppermints and drizzle chocolate syrup over each pie serving.

Red Nose Reindeers and Peppermint Icing

• 3 beaten large eggs

• 1 German chocolate cake mix (no pudding)

• 3.4 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix

• ½ cup Wesson vegetable oil

• ½ cup water

• 1 cup sour cream

• Drops of red food coloring

• 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add non-pudding cake mix and instant vanilla pudding mix to eggs while alternating with oil, water, sour cream, and enough red food coloring to color. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Mix well. Spoon batter into paper-lined or greased cupcake cups and fill ¾ full. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan.

Peppermint White Chocolate Icing

• 4 oz. softened cream cheese

• ½ stick softened, salted butter

• 6 oz. chopped white chocolate

• 1 tsp. peppermint extract

• 2-2½ cups confectioners sugar

• Crushed peppermint (if desired)

In a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. In a bowl, heat chocolate in microwave 1 minute at a time and stir in-between until completely melted. Allow to cool. When cool, add chocolate to the butter mixture and blend just until combined. Add extract and 2 cups powdered sugar. Mix until smooth and fluffy. Add additional sugar if necessary. Decorate with additional crushed peppermint if desired.

Peppermint-Stick Cream Pie

• 1½ cup chocolate cookie crumbs

• ¼ cup softened butter

• 1 cup hot water

• 3 oz. strawberry gelatin

• 2 cups whipped cream

• ½ cup crushed peppermint stick candy

• Additional whipped cream

• 1-inch cut candy canes for decor

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and butter. Mix well and pat into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Chill. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil water. Dissolve strawberry gelatin in water. Chill until almost set. In a mixer bowl, whip cream. Fold whipped cream into the strawberry mixture. Mix well. Fold in crushed peppermint stick candy. Mix well. Fill pie shell, and chill for at least 4 hours. Top with additional whipped cream and 1-inch pieces of a candy cane.

Spiral Peppermint Cookies

• 1 cup salted, softened butter

• 1½ cup sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. peppermint extract

• 2½ cups all-purpose flour

• 1½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• Red food coloring

In a mixer bowl, cream butter. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and peppermint extract. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to butter mixture. Beat just until blended well. Divide dough into equal portions. Tint one portion with enough red to achieve desired color. Cover and chill both portions of dough for 3 hours. On floured wax paper, roll each portion into a 16-by-8 rectangle. Take plain dough and invert it, placing it directly on top of red dough. Remove waxed paper from plain dough. Beginning with long side, roll up like a jellyroll, removing waxed paper while rolling. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into ¼-inch slices. Bake in a 350-degree oven, 2-inches apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. Yield: 5 dozen.

Instant Peppermint Cocoa

• 8 cups powdered milk

• 3 cups powdered sugar

• 3 cups Nestle Quik powder chocolate milk

• 2 1/3 cups powdered creamer

• 16 crushed peppermint sticks

In a large container, combine powdered milk, powdered sugar, Nestle Quik chocolate powder, and powdered creamer. Mix well. Add crushed peppermint and mix well. Store the cocoa mixture in airtight containers. Makes 18 cups. When gifting, add these instructions:  When serving, spoon 1/3 cup cocoa mix into ¾ cup hot water, and stir until combined.

Candy Crush Dessert

• 10 crushed graham crackers

• 4 Tbsp. sugar

• 8 Tbsp. melted butter

• 1 large pkg. instant whipped topping

• ½ reg. bag miniature marshmallows

• ½ cup crushed hard peppermint candies

In a bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter. Spread ¾ of the mix over the bottom of a 8-by-8 square cake pan. Reserve the ¼ cup of the mix and set aside. In a mixer bowl, combine large package of whipped topping, marshmallows and crushed candies. Mix well. Spread filling over the crust. Sprinkle remaining cookie crumbs over the top. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

Candy Cane Brownies

• 3 beaten large eggs

• 1¼ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 4 oz. melted unsweet baking chocolate

• 1 stick melted, salted butter

• ¾ cup all-purpose flour

• 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

• 1/3 cup softened, salted butter

• 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

• 1 cup marshmallow cream

• 2 tsp. pure peppermint extract

• 1 tube red glossy decorating gel

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. In a saucepan, melt chocolate and butter. Add to the egg mixture. Mix well. Add flour and chocolate chips and blend well. Bake in a 325-degree oven in a greased and floured 8-inch baking pan for 25-30 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely. Set aside. For the icing, in a saucepan, melt butter. Add confectioners sugar and marshmallow crème, stirring until well mixed. Fold in peppermint extract and mix well. Cut brownies into squares. Ice with frosting. Draw out a candy cane on top of each brownie with the tube of red decorating gel.

Minty Chocolate Snaps

• ½ cup plus 1 ½ Tbsp. Crisco shortening

• ¾ cup sugar

• 6 oz. melted, semisweet chocolate morsels

• 1 egg

• ¼ cup light corn syrup

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. peppermint extract

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• ¼ tsp. salt

• ¼ cup crushed peppermint candy

• Sugar

In a mixer bowl, cream shortening. Beat with sugar until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and mix well. Add egg, corn syrup and extracts. Mix well. Add flour, soda and salt. Mix well. Fold in peppermint candy. Mix well. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional sugar. Bake in a 350-degree oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Yield: 7 dozen.