Candy canes are the perfect Christmas tree ornaments. The red and white stripes are always festive, they're light enough not to weigh down the branches too much, and they come with convenient built-in hooks. Also, they're cheap! I caught on to this fact when I was just out of college with not a lot of money and a whole lot of empty tree. For a dollar, you could get a box of 12 to 15 candy canes. That's 12 to 15 ornaments for the price of one. Twenty years later, those numbers still look good and candy canes continue to grace our tree.
Inevitably, though, with cats or kids or simple gravity, some of these candy canes will break. When that happens, don't throw them away! Make ice cream!
The kids love this old-fashioned peppermint stick ice cream. Tastes like Christmas, they say. I have to agree. This recipe got cut from my cookbook on account of space, so the book's loss is your gain. If you like, you can top a minty scoop with more crushed candy canes and perhaps a drizzle of bittersweet chocolate sauce (WINTERSWEET, page 81). Or maybe let some melt into your hot cocoa? I'm just thinking out loud here. But do yourself a favor and keep your peppermint stick stash on the DL. Santa's been known to leave empty containers in the freezer.
Peppermint Stick Ice Cream
Needless to say, be sure to use peppermint candy canes, not the gross fruit-flavored ones.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 ml) cups heavy cream
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1½ teaspoons peppermint extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 5 peppermint candy canes
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar a little at a time, then whisk for 1 minute more. Pour the cream, milk, peppermint extract, and vanilla into the egg mixture and whisk for another minute until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually spin for 25 minutes).
While the ice cream is churning, put 4 to 5 peppermint candy canes into a resealable plastic bag and zip it tight. Smash them with a can into pieces 1/4-inch (6-mm) or smaller. During the last five minutes of churning, add the candy pieces. Spoon into a freezer-safe container and freeze until scoopable, at least 6 hours.
Author's Note: I make my ice cream the old-fashioned way: with fresh, local, raw eggs. You are under no obligation to do the same. If you're worried about salmonella, your options are many: Use pasteurized eggs instead. Or leave out the eggs entirely for a perfectly good Philadelphia-style ice cream. Or pull out your favorite cooked custard-style ice cream cookbook (like David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop) and modify this recipe using egg yolks and a thermometer. Or pull out your favorite cornstarch-based, egg-free ice cream cookbook (like Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home) and modify her base. It's your kitchen after all.