Kitchen Focus

When the holidays reach their end, there's no guarantee that the supplies that have helped fuel them will also be gone. Home cooks everywhere find themselves with an abundance of chocolate, eggnog and candy canes. Rather than leave yourself with a pile of raw ingredients, consider some of the ideas below for using leftovers candy canes. Consider it one of life's nicer post-holiday gifts! Enjoy.

Peppermint Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon candy cane pieces, optional

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peppermint extract and candy cane pieces, if using. Cool to room temperature and store in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge

  • 4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (two 12-ounce packages)
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter - cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup crushed candy canes (from about 8 medium)

Line two 8-inch square baking pans with parchment paper or nonstick foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.

In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate chips and condensed milk. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the butter, vanilla and salt, and stir until the butter has melted.

Spread the chocolate mixture evenly into the prepared pans and sprinkle with the candy canes, gently pressing them into top of fudge. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours and up to 2 weeks.

Using the overhangs, transfer the fudge to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares.

  • Yields: About 128 pieces
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Chocolate Cookies with Peppermint

  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coarsely crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the cake mix, sugar, oil and eggs. Stir in the candy cane pieces. Drop dough balls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool.

  • Yields: 4 dozen cookies
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes