Candy canes are a wonderful holiday treat to enjoy this time of year, but they're not always healthy. They're loaded with sugar and corn syrup: Try making these as a healthy, fun alternative. This recipe in particular will make you approximately 18 sticks. If you wish to make more or less, just double or halve the ingredients. The finished result won't look as perfect and flawless as pe-made candy canes, but they'll definitely be healthier.
- 2 ½ cups of organic granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon of distilled organic white vinegar
- ½ cup of undiluted pure organic cranberry juice
- 1 teaspoon of organic peppermint extract
- Start by heating the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or 93 degrees Celsius). Be sure to line a baking sheet with an oven-safe silicone baking mat. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let it warm up for a few minutes.
- Take the sugar, vinegar, and cranberry juice and mix them together in a pot on medium heat for 30 minutes. The goal is for the mixture to resemble syrup. Once it does, check the temperature of the syrup. It should be about 285 degrees Fahrenheit (140.6 degrees Celsius). Once it's this temperature, remove from heat.
- Now add the peppermint extract to the syrup, but do it quickly! You want to make sure it combines well with the syrup before it cools.
- By now, the baking sheet should be warm enough, so remove it from the oven. When you're ready, pour the syrup onto the silicone mat. Try to pour it into the center of the mat, not the edges, so it can spread naturally. Then, hold the edges of the mat and proceed to fold the edges: This will keep the syrup in a confined, narrow strip until it cools just enough to stop running.
- Once it's partially solidified, get ready to knead the syrup! You can use the edges of your silicone mat or other non-stick utensils to do this. Just press and fold the syrup in a kneading motion as best you can. You have to do this until the syrup turns glossy, which can take up to 25 minutes.
- Now grease your hands with some nonstick cooking spray. This will help prevent your hands from sticking to the cooled candy. Pull a small ball of candy from the main clump, but make sure it's no bigger than the size of a golf ball.
- Now it's time to get stretchy! Pull the candy out and stretch it into a rope. Since that's easier said then done, you might want to ask someone for assistance. You have to stretch it with considerable strength and speed to get it in rope form.
- Next, bring the ends together and twist the halves of the rope together. Then, to form canes, bend the top of the twisted rope into a cane or hook shape. Place your creations on the silicone mat so they can harden at room temperature. Make sure to keep them out of sunlight. Once the candy canes are completely cool, feel free to eat right away or store them in a dark, cool place. These look great on holiday-themed candy dishes and make festive additions to holiday parties.