Alabama Recipes: Peppermint
A holiday must-have
More than any other aroma or flavor, peppermint says “holidays” to me. The simple sight of candy canes, all lined up in their cellophane-wrapped boxes, sitting on grocery store shelves, screams “childhood memories coming!,” a warning before my emotional floodgates open, and I’m overwhelmed with nostalgia and warm, fuzzy thoughts of Christmas mornings with my brother and parents.
An annual tradition in our house was making Christmas cookies together. My mom would pull index cards, their printed lines and inked words faded and corners worn soft, out of her wooden recipe box. We usually made three or four different kinds, but my favorites to eat were my least favorite to make.
Candy Cane Cookies were delicious but complicated. I didn’t mind cutting out shapes and tossing on some colored sugars. That didn’t take too long, and it was fun. But Candy Cane Cookies meant making the dough, dividing it and coloring one half red, pinching off little balls, hand-rolling them into ropes, twisting the red and white ropes together and then turning one end down to form a crook. When done, you had the spitting image of red-and-white spiral-striped candy canes. Oh, and then you crushed up peppermint candies and sprinkled them on top. They looked impressive, but I always wanted them mixed, baked and in my mouth, STAT.
Despite my impatience, I pushed through and helped my mom with minimal complaining every year, knowing I’d be proud of the pretty cookies when I was done (and of course, enjoy eating them). I still make them every year, now by myself in my own kitchen, although my husband happily joins me in devouring them long before Christmas ever arrives.
Nowadays, stores have Christmas decor and candy canes out before Thanksgiving; some even try to push us into the holiday spirit before Halloween has come and gone. Lots of folks complain about this, but I don’t mind. I feel a gentle wave of pure joy wash over me when I see candy canes for the first time each year. If that happens to be in October, so be it. The longer I can stretch Christmas and everything it means to me, the better.
Peppermint may not be so closely linked to the holidays at your house, but I’d be willing to bet there’s at least some connection. That’s why we’re pretty sure you’ll be excited about this month’s recipes, all shining the spotlight on peppermint and highlighting its sweet, exhilarating tingly taste.
– Jennifer Kornegay
Cook of the Month
Christie York, Marshall-DeKalb EC
An avid cook, Christie loves to make desserts, and she’s been whipping up her Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake for about 20 years, especially around Christmas. “It’s something my family really just expects around the holidays,” she says, “so I always make it then, and it has become part of our holiday tradition.” It’s cool and creamy with a refreshing pop of peppermint, but that’s not the only reason it’s become a mainstay. “It’s so easy to make, and when I have my oven busy cooking so many other things, it’s nice to be able to make this, since it’s really a no-cook recipe.” And while it’s doubtful that there will be any leftovers from this dish, if there are, simply slice individual pieces and wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer. “It’s great to have a few on hand for surprise guests,” Christie says.
Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake
- 1½ cups chocolate wafer crumbs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup crushed peppermint candy
- 3 drops liquid red food coloring
- 2 cups whipping cream, whipped
- Garnishes: whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy
Combine first 3 ingredients; firmly press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Chill. Beat cream cheese at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add condensed milk, peppermint candy and food coloring; beat well. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into prepared pan. Cover and freeze until firm. Garnish if desired. Yields one 9-inch cheesecake.
- 1 large stick peppermint candy, crushed
- 1 can Eagle Brand milk
- ¼-½ cup Crisco
- 1½-2boxes powdered sugar
- Almond bark
Mix crushed peppermint candy, milk and Crisco. Blend in powdered sugar. Roll to form balls and dip in melted almond bark. Place on wax paper to harden.
Belinda Tillery, Cherokee EC
Chocolate Peppermint Ritz
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon peppermint oil (not extract)
- Chocolate almond bark
- Ritz crackers
Melt chocolate bark in an 8-inch by 8-inch pan; add peppermint oil. Stir. Lay 4-5 crackers in the melted chocolate. Remove with a spoon and lay on waxed paper to dry. Repeat.
Tina Robertson, Baldwin EMC
Gluten-Free Candy Cane Cupcakes
- 1¼ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup oil
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup shortening
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- Crushed candy canes
Combine rice flour, cornstarch, cocoa, soda, and xanthan gum, and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk, egg, oil, water, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix for 2 minutes. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Meanwhile in mixing bowl, combine shortening, butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat for 5 minutes until fluffy. Take half of the frosting and put in a decorators bag and push tip into the top of each cooled cupcake. Squeeze bag to allow a couple teaspoons of frosting in the center for a delectable filling. Take remaining frosting and frost the top on each cupcake. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Esther Briddick, Joe Wheeler EMC
Peppermint Oreo Balls
- 1 package regular Oreo cookies, ground fine
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- White chocolate chips (or almond bark), melted
- Crushed peppermints for garnish
Blend cookie crumbs, cream cheese and peppermint extract. Roll into small balls. Dip into the melted white chocolate, set on wax paper and quickly dust with crushed peppermints. Cool for one hour.
Janie Whelton, Baldwin EMC
Holiday Peppermint Pie
- 4 cups crispy rice cereal
- 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted
- 1½ quarts peppermint stick ice cream, softened
- Chocolate fudge topping
- Crushed peppermint candies
Combine the cereal and melted chocolate; mix well. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Freeze for 5 minutes. Spoon ice cream into the crust. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with the chocolate fudge topping and peppermint candies.
Sherry Parker, Cherokee EC
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- 3½ cups whole milk
- 8 squares (1 ounce) white baking chocolate, chopped
- ¼-½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2/3 cup whipped cream
- 8 peppermint candies, crushed
- Chocolate syrup
- Additional crushed candies as desired
In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until hot. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. In a medium bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in crushed candies. Ladle the hot chocolate mixture into mugs and dollop with whipped cream. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and additional crushed candies.
Carolyn Batchelor, Covington EC
The Power of Peppermint
Peppermint-flavored foods get their punch from peppermint oil (or extracts made from peppermint oil), which are derived from a mixture of mint plant species. But did you know that this versatile ingredient can do a lot more than add a burst of invigorating cool to everything from candy and cakes to tea? Peppermint oil is for way more than eating. Check out some of its many benefits and uses.
- Reduce nausea and soothe upset stomachs
- Perk you up and provide a natural energy boost
- Freshen breath with its antimicrobial properties
- Relieve muscle soreness when applied topically
- Open sinuses and nasal passages
- Relieve stress
- Reduce cravings and curb appetite
- Stop the itch from bug bites and rashes when applied topically
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