Feel like making candy canes from scratch at home this year? Think they would make a great DIY gift this holiday season? I’m here to tell you: Leave it to the pros, kids. There are a million other productive things you can do with your time that don’t make you feel as though you are losing your sanity in the name of hot sugar-pulling.
Why am I a homemade candy cane hater, you may ask? I got 99 reasons and ease ain’t one.
- Don’t be like me and realize only once it’s too late that you have a minimal amount of food coloring left in the bottle. An all-white candy cane is boring.
- Don’t be like me and try to spread the hot sugar out on greased tin foil; the foil will cling to the sugar as it cools and you’ll have to rip it off. This will be a completely unsuccessful endeavor. This is why there is a pot filled with water, hard sugar and shredded bits of tin foil in my sink as I speak.
- Don’t be like me and use nice latex gloves while pulling the colored sugar, since the dye will ruin the gloves.
- Don’t be like me and allow a dog in the kitchen while handling boiling hot sugar, since the dog will get underfoot and cause you to nearly burn both yourself and said dog, and you will kick the dog out of the kitchen while swearing and scaring everybody.
- Don’t be like me and try to make candy canes by yourself. Candy canes and sugar pulling should be a group effort. My mother sat at the kitchen counter eating a leftover turkey sandwich and watching me as I swore like a sailor, yelled at the dog and burned my hands. In hindsight, I totally should have recruited her help.
- Don’t be like me and mix the colored batch of sugar before pulling the white batch of sugar , since the food coloring on your latex gloves will transfer over to the other batch anyway and you’ll end up with murky colored candy canes. Candy canes should be striped, not all muddled.
- Do be like me and, when the sugar gets too hard and cool to pull, just use some scissors and snip off little peppermint pillows, because those little squares are the only recognizable thing you’ll be making today.
Merry Christmas, everybody.
Not every First on the First is a total disaster! Challenges like this are one of the reasons why I love when I’m able to participate. This series stretches me to my limits in the kitchen and reminds me I’m not a version of Martha Stewart in sweatpants. For more information on joining First on the First, check out Carrie or Kate’s blogs or sign up for our Facebook Group. You don’t have to be a blogger to sign up- let’s struggle with new stuff together!
Homemade Candy Canes Recipe
- 1-2 tablespoons butter, for greasing
- 1 3/4 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 2-3 drops red or green food coloring
- metal spatula
- latex gloves, for sugar pulling
- candy thermometer
- Use the butter to grease the bottom of a large baking sheet and also a metal spatula. Set aside. Keep the latex gloves handy as well.
- Over high heat, stir together the white sugar and corn syrup. Allow to cook, stirring often, until the sugar is bubbling and dissolved, about five minutes. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom, and let the sugar boil -undisturbed- until it reaches 305*F. Remove from the heat and stir in the peppermint extract. Careful! It’s a strong flavor and made my eyes water!Pour the sugar out onto the baking sheet, scraping all of the sugar out of the pan.
- Let the bubbles die down a bit (about 1 minute) then, using the metal spatula, begin folding the edges of the sugar over themselves to cool it. Once the sugar is cool enough to handle, divide the sugar in half (you may have to use a greased butter knife to help divide the sugar evenly) and add the food coloring to one half.Find a partner (trust me, you want one). You should both be wearing latex gloves.
- One of you should take the non-colored sugar and continuously pull, twist and fold it over on itself, aerating the sugar so it turns lighter in color. Once you feel the sugar starting to cool and it has turned mostly white, form the sugar into a long log and set next to the colored sugar.
- While your partner is pulling the white sugar, use the spatula or your hands to start folding the colored sugar in and over itself to blend the coloring in. Once the color is completely added into the sugar, form the sugar into a long log the same length as the white sugar.
- Gently squeeze the sugar logs together, then pull one side of the sugar off into a long string, forming it with your hands and twisting as you go to create the signature candy twist look of candy canes. Snip off a piece about 5 inches long and fold the top over into a hook. Place on a baking sheet and allow to cool. Do this with the rest of the sugar and let the candy canes harden overnight, or for at least two hours.If the sugar starts to cool at the end of the log and you find you can’t pull it anymore, snip off little “pillows” using a pair of sharp scissors.