A homemade candy cane will always beat store-bought ones. Why not give our recipe a go?
Origin Of Candy Canes
According to a folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some “sugar sticks” for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, candy canes spread to other parts of Europe, where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity. As such, according to this legend, the candy cane became associated with Christmastide.
A record of the 1837 Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, where confections were judged competitively, mentions “stick candy”. A recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with coloured stripes, was published in 1844. The “candy cane” is found in literature in 1866, though no description of color or flavor was provided. The Nursery monthly magazine noted them in association with Christmas in 1874, and the Babyland magazine mentioned canes being hung on Christmas trees in 1882.
As with other forms of stick candy, the earliest canes were manufactured by hand. Chicago confectioners the Bunte Brothers filed one of the earliest patents for candy cane making machines in the early 1920s. In 1919 in Albany, Georgia, Robert McCormack began making candy canes for local children and by the middle of the century, his company (originally the Famous Candy Company, then the Mills-McCormack Candy Company, and later Bobs Candies) had become one of the world’s leading candy cane producers. Candy cane manufacturing initially required a fair bit of labor that limited production quantities; the canes had to be bent manually as they came off the assembly line to create their curved shape and breakage often ran over 20 percent. McCormack’s brother-in-law, Gregory Harding Keller, was a seminary student in Rome who spent his summers working in the candy factory back home. In 1957, Keller, as an ordained Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Little Rock, patented his invention, the Keller Machine, which automated the process of twisting soft candy into spiral striping and cutting it into precise lengths as candy canes.
Homemade Candy Cane Suggestions
Our Homemade Candy Cane Recipe
Homemade Candy Canes
- 3 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup Corn Syrup light
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1 1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
- 1 tsp Red Food Colouring
- 1 tsp White Food Colouring optional
- Spray two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of the water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; stir with a heatproof spatula until the sugar dissolves.
- Wet a pastry brush in a small bowl filled with the remaining water. Using the wet brush, wash any sugar crystals off the side of the pan. Do not stir the syrup.
- When the syrup comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook, without stirring, until the candy thermometer registers 285 F.
- Remove from heat. Let the bubbles subside, then stir in peppermint extract.
- Pour about half of the syrup onto a prepared baking sheet and place it in the preheated oven.
- Stir red food coloring into the remaining syrup. If necessary, add more dye to achieve a vibrant shade.
- Pour the candy onto the remaining baking sheet and allow it to sit briefly until it forms a “skin.”
- Spray a bench scraper or metal spatula with nonstick cooking spray, and use the tool to "knead" the candy. Flatten the candy, then fold it back over itself. Repeat this process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the candy is significantly cooler.
- Put on your food-safe plastic gloves. Stretch the candy into a long rope, then fold the rope in half and twist the candy until it melts back into itself.
- Repeat this process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the candy takes on an opaque color and a satiny finish. At this point, the candy will be warm—you should have some trouble pulling and folding it.
- Stretch the candy into a rope, about 2 inches in diameter, then return it to the oven, where it will stay warm and pliable.
- Remove the other baking sheet from the oven. At this point, you can knead white food coloring into the candy.
- Pull and fold the candy in the same fashion, until it becomes opaque, glossy, and difficult to manipulate.
- Stretch it into a second log, about 2 inches in diameter.
- Remove the red candy from the oven. Cut a 2-inch segment from the white log and another from the red log, then put the remaining candy back in the oven.
- Squeeze the two segments together, until they form one two-toned log, then stretch the candy again. This step will determine the thickness of your candy canes—you can make thinner ones (with a 1/4-inch diameter) or thicker ones (with a 1/2-inch diameter).
- When you're happy with the candy's width, twist the rope to form those distinctive candy stripes.
- Using a pair of oiled kitchen shears, cut the candy into smaller pieces. Again, you can choose to make long or small candy canes. A 7-inch piece of candy will yield a medium-sized candy cane.
- Immediately form the hook at the top of the cane and place it on a clean surface to firm up at room temperature.
- Cut off another segment from each log, then return the logs to the oven. Repeat the twisting and stretching process until you have used up all the candy.
- If the candy cracks or hardens, return it to the warm oven for a few minutes. (Any longer than a few minutes and the candy will lose its shape.) At room temperature, your candy canes should be as hard as the store-bought variety.
- Be sure to wrap them in plastic wrap or cellophane to preserve their shelf life.
- Hang your candy canes on your tree or attach them to presents and enjoy.
- Make sure you have a calibrated clip-on candy thermometer before you begin this recipe. The thermometer will tell you when to take the sugar syrup off the stove—if yours is faulty or incorrectly calibrated, then you may undercook or overcook the syrup.
- You should also invest in heat resistant gloves, which are available for purchase online. The gloves will protect your hands from the hot candy and the dye.
- You may want to adjust the amount of peppermint extract in subsequent batches since peppermint extracts vary from brand to brand.
FODMAP – At one serving its fodmap friendly
KETO – Replace sugar with granulated sweetener
DAIRY-FREE – Already Dairy-free
GLUTEN-FREE – Gluten-free already
Have More Ideas?
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