How do you start a recipe essay in the (late?) pandemic without it sounding flippant or weird? “In the last year, I spent the time that I wasn’t panicking about the pandemic or the election or all the anti-trans bills trying to work through my pantry.” I mean, we all have to eat, even in “unprecedented times,” and working through my pantry was a manageable challenge that made me feel like I had some control over my life. (skip to recipe)
“Working through my pantry” might be a generous description. My partner’s family and my family often send us care packages with candy during the holidays. At some point last year, I discovered a bunch of nice-but-old candy canes that I had shoved into our fridge after they melted during the summer. A summer. A summer which may have been 2-3 years ago. Normally, I add candy canes to our hot cocoa in the winter, but these were kind of sticky and I just didn’t want to deal with it till now.
After doing some research, I discovered you can make candy-cane powder by breaking up candy canes and running them through a food processor.1 I experimented with a few different uses, like adding the candy-cane powder to hot cocoa and mochas, but my favorite recipe was one I developed for my Patreon, where I added the powder to chocolate cookies.2
This is a great post-Christmas recipe to use up those leftover candy canes, or to make during the winter. The fancy kind my partner’s mom often sends are Hammond’s, which are gluten-free and kosher. I haven’t tried making these cookies with gluten-free flour yet, but I’ll report back when I do.
The texture on these cookies is my favorite part: the dough is soft and contrasts with the chocolate chips, and the candy-cane powder adds some chewiness to the finished product.
If you do make a lot of candy-cane powder, store yours in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. If the powder clumps, run it through the processor again before using in the cookies.
Stay safe, get vaccinated, and do something nice for yourself. Maybe today that’s making cookies.
Double-Chocolate Candy-Cane Cookies
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking (2019)’s Double-Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (768-769).
Yield: ~30 cookies
Preheat the oven to 375° F (180° C).
Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper, reusable silicon “parchment” sheets, or lightly grease them.
Sift together in a medium bowl:
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
Beat in a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium until lightened in color and fluffy:
- 1 1/4 cups (250 g, 8.8 oz) sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz, 170 g) unsalted butter, softened
Add and continue beating to combine:
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
- 1 large egg
On medium-slow speed, add the flour mixture, and beat until dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth.
Then beat in on low
- 3/4 cup (130 g) bitter-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1/3 cup (80 mL by volume) candy-cane powder
Portion the dough into rounded tablespoons and roll the dough gently into balls. Flatten the dough balls on the baking sheets, about 1 inch (2 cm) apart. Bake until barely set, 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet, and then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Best consumed within 7-10 days.
- I used our spice-grinder, which is a coffee-grinder with a removable bowl, not a top-feeding kind. You could also use a blender or a small food processor.
- Initially I had tried to sprinkle the candy-cane powder on top or roll the cookie dough balls in it like sugar. While that would work with peppermint sugar, candy canes often have corn syrup or another syrup in them. The powder gets tacky easily and clumps if moisture is introduced, so using the powder like decorating sugar didn’t work well. If your candy-cane powder clumps