It’s that time of year where the Christmas tree comes down. The ornaments are removed and carefully placed in their boxes to be stashed away until the next holiday season. In my family, that is when we find all the unwanted broken candy canes. I am not sure why a broken candy cane is so unwanted. I mean, they have the same flavor as an all-in-one-piece candy cane, but none the less they are stashed and hidden away within the tree to be discovered at seasons end. Each one I find looks as if it clings to the branch of the tree hoping it won’t fall because the cane part of the candy is severed within its candy cane shaped plastic wrapper.
I couldn’t bring myself to throw away these yummy morsels, abandoned by the need for perfection. They weren’t bad or opened they were simply broken. So I decided I would use these flavorful cane pieces to make an end-of-the-holiday tradition. All broken candy canes are opened and placed in a large Ziploc bag. They are then pounded into oblivion, which is actually really fun for the whole family. It is amazing how cool it is to be allowed to break something while making a ton of noise. I can tell you there is no hint of a candy cane when we have finished the job. FYI, do this on a very strong surface or cutting board.
Once the candy canes have been pulverized, they have to be sifted to remove all of the larger pieces. The larger pieces are not used in this recipe so I save them to put in hot chocolates and/or coffee. It gives them a slight peppermint flavor and it is so yummy.
To finish off the Candy Cane mixture, I add 3/4 cups of powdered sugar and mix it together. This mixture will be used in the filling and on the outside of the cookie.
Once the Candy Cane mixture is done the rest is pretty simply to prepare. For the cookie dough, I cream the wet together until soft and fluffy. Then I add the dry until it is well blended. The dough must chill for at least one hour, so I place it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. This chill process is very important. It makes the dough much easier to handle and it makes it a yummy crumbly cookie.
While the dough is chilling, I make the cream cheese mixture using soft cream cheese. I Cream the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually, I add the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of the pounded garnish. It will get a bit clunky. This is where I add the milk to smooth it out and I blend it until i’s smooth and creamy. It then gets scooped into a piping bag with a large opening nozzle. It doesn’t matter what shape. This is just to make filling each cookies easy and fast.
Here comes the hard part:
Once the dough has chilled for an hour, I remove the dough from the refrigerator. To make the cookie I first take about a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Then using the handle of my large wooden spoon, I shape the dough around the bottom part of my handle. This is creating a hole or cavern in the cookie so that I can fill it with the cream cheese mixture. Gently twist the handle and pull the dough off the wooden spoon. It will look like a little dough teacup without the handle. I then fill the cavern 2/3 of the way up with the cream cheese filling mixture. The dough is then pinched closed and shaped back into a ball. The filled ball is then placed on a creased cookie sheet. The process is then repeated 35 times. This may not be as simple as “Scoop and Bake” but the work is oh so worth it.
The round balls are then baked for about 12-15 minutes. They must be removed from the oven before they brown. Browning them kills the crumbly goodness and that would just be sad.
Once they are fully baked, they are then partly cooled. While the cookies are warm, not hot, they are rolled in the remaining pounded candy cane garnish. They kind of look like powdered doughnut holes when all is said and done. But, they taste nothing like a doughnut hole. They are more like yummy pieces of peppermint candy heaven wrapped in a fluffy, crumbly, cakey goodness. The candy canes are no longer rejected, they are embraced and devoured.
I have provided the recipe for free below with a little print button to save it for later. No candy cane should be rejected and these cookies are a perfect reason as to why all candy canes matter.
Candy Cane Cookies
For the Dough
- 2 sticks of soft butter
- 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2.5 Cups of flour
- 6-8 Peppermint Candy Canes (depending on size)
- 3/4 Cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup Cream Cheese
- 1.5 tsp milk
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp of Garnish mixture (the candy cane Mixture)
- Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy
- Add flour and mix until it forms a dough like consistency
- Place in a glass bowl, cover and place it in the refrigerator for at east 1 hour
- Place candy canes into a tough ziplock bag (I use a freezer bag, they seem to hold up better).
- Pound candy canes into a candy cane powder. I used a cheap rolling pin I bought just to crush candy or nuts. A sanitized mallet or other crushing tool could work as well.
- Once the candy canes are a powder, run them through a fine grid to remove the larger pieces of candy cane and set aside the larger pieces.
- Mix the fine candy cane powder with the 3/4 cups of powder sugar and set aside.
- In a bowl cream the cream cheese until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and Garnish gradually.
- Add milk and mix until well blended.
- Scoop into a piping bag and set aside. (It doesn’t matter what nozzle you use, as long as the cream cheese mixture can flow through it with ease. You will be using this to fill the cookies.)
Making the cookies
- Preheat oven to 350
- Remove dough from the refrigerator.
- Pinch off about a tsp. of dough, it will be hard and crumbly
- Shape the dough into a ball
- With the handle of a large Wooden spoon, carefully mold the dough around handle to create a cavern in the middle. twist the handle slightly and carefully pull the dough off.
- Fill 2/3 of the cavern with the cream cheese filling.
- Pinch the dough together to seal the cavern, carefully shape it back into a ball, and place the now filled ball of dough on a greased cookie sheet (I used a glass pan)
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. You should have around 36 balls
- Bake for 12 min (It took 15 on my glass pans). Be sure not to brown them.
- Once baked, place the cookies on a cooling rack.
- halfway into their cooling process, gently roll the cookies in the rest of the garnish. Be careful not to break the cookie.
- Let cool the rest of the way and then serve.
Makes around 36 cookies