Peppermint Twist

Holiday Open House with Candy Cane inspired Dessert Bar

Inspiration


Most of my ideas, whether they are projects, room makeovers, or parties start with a single inspiration. Sometimes it’s as simple as a color, an idea, a place, or just one simple little item … like a Candy Cane. Starting with an inspirational item gets me excited, keeps me focused, and opens the door to my imagination. For this party, I decided that the striking red and white colors and seasonal flavor of a Candy Cane would be the perfect catalyst for my Holiday Open House.

Holiday Open House with a Peppermint Twist

This time of year gets so busy and sometimes it’s hard to find time to relax and spend time with ALL of our friends and family. I decided it would be a great idea to have an Open House where my family and friends could stop in and just enjoy each other, and of course, some treats. I opted to have a dessert bar, all inspired by candy canes and peppermint flavor. I brought in the colors simply with a red tablecloth, red ball ornaments, and red candles contrasted with white serving ware. I found a Candy Cane stripe ribbon that I used for simple embellishments, and of course candy canes – ranging from mini, to regular, soft sticks, drops, and even jumbo sticks.

Perfect Place Settings

For my place settings, I pulled my everyday White ceramic plates into the theme with a red charger and my twisted silverware. I layered that with a fun tall mug and saucer. I opted to use a red and white polka dot fabric for my napkins to mix up all my stripes. For the napkin, I simply trimmed the edges of a cute fabric with my pinking shears. And to spice up my glass, I rimmed Martini glasses with red sanding sugar and garnished with a soft peppermint stick.

Tablescape with a Twist

I kept my table simple, and focused on my contrasting red and white colors so the desserts could really shine. The red sugared martini glasses were one of my favorite touches. But my centerpiece was simple and tied my theme perfectly. I found 3 tall cylinder vases at a local home décor store. I filled each one with a different shaped peppermint candy. And wrapped each vase with a Candy Cane twist ribbon. Put them together with a few red ball ornaments, and you have a simple centerpiece that is as pretty as it is tasty.

Candy Cane Cake

One showstopping dessert at my bar was this Bundt Cake with a Peppermint Twist. And it’s even surprisingly simple to make.

Peppermint Twist Bundt Cake

Cake:
1 box white cake mix
water, vegetable oil and egg whites (as per box directions)
1/2 teaspoon red food color
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

White Icing:
Drizzle with melted White Chocolate.

Garnish:

Crushed candy canes or crushed hard peppermint candies

Directions:

Heat oven to 325°F. Generously grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan.

Make cake batter as directed on box. Pour about 2 cups batter into pan. Into small bowl, pour about 3/4 cup batter; stir in food color and peppermint extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.

Bake as directed on box or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.

Melt White Chocolate in double boiler. Drizzle over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with crushed candy. Store loosely covered.

Easy Peppermint Treats

Peppermint Brownies

I used my favorite brownie recipe, and then cut them into circles (when backed and cooled) using my round biscuit cutter. And topped them with a simple Buttercream frosting flavored with a little peppermint extract, piped them on with my pastry bag and favorite start tip to make them special, and topped with some red sugar.

Peppermint Pretzels

I LOVE the salty and sweetness of Chocolate dipped pretzel rods and nothing could be easier than making them yourself, although you can spend a lot in specialty candy stores.

For these, I simply dipped the pretzel rods in melted White Chocolate, and laid them on wax paper to cool. Then topped them with crushed candy canes, and after they had cooled a little, I drizzled them with a hint of melted Dark Chocolate.

Peppermint Bark

A friend of mine recently asked me for a recipe for Peppermint Bark, we laughed and asked if there was such a recipe? For my bark, I simply melted some quality Dark Chocolate and poured it out onto my silicone mat to cool. Once cool, I poured another layer of melted White Chocolate onto that and then sprinkled with more crushed Candy Canes. Then I let all the layers cool in the refrigerator before carefully breaking them into pieces.

Cool Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint Ice Cream Cones

Another fabulous, but easy dessert. To make my store bought Peppermint Ice Cream something special, I dipped the rims of Sugar Cones in my melted Dark Chocolate and then dipped them in more crushed Candy Canes. Finally, let them cool on wax paper in the fridge. To make them even more special, I served them upside down in mini Martini glasses with a demitasse spoon.

Hot Peppermint Cocoa

For a warm Peppermint treat, try this Peppermint Hot Cocoa recipe.

Pastry Chef Ethan Howard shared this recipe in one of my favorite Winter Cookbooks, “Hot Chocolate” by Michael Turback.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups sugar

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon peppermint oil

Directions:

Combine the milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture is hot, add the chopped chocolate and stir constantly until the hot chocolate is completely melted. Continue stirring while adding the salt and peppermint oil. When the mixture reaches a simmer, remove it from the heat and serve immediately.

Makes 6 Demitasse servings.

I topped the Hot Chocolate with a swirl of whipped cream and garnished with some crushed candy canes and a mini Candy Cane stirrer.

Candy Cane Cookies

I made a couple simple Candy Cane inspired cookie recipes. If the twisted Sugar cookies look like they are difficult, they’re not, and I can prove it because I let my 8 and 9 year old daughters form these, which is what makes them special even if they are not “perfect.”

Candy Cane Cookies

Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookie dough …

Divide dough in half; tint half with red food coloring, and could even add a little peppermint extract or oil in keeping with our theme. Wrap each half, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Divide each half into 32 pieces (or adjust depending on size of your recipe). Roll each piece into a 5 inch rope. Twist 1 red and 1 white rope together; bend one end to form candy cane shape. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 8-10 minutes. Or just until slightly set and lightly golden. Remove from sheets; cool on wire racks. Store in airtight container.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

 

  • 1 bag candy cane kisses, unwrapped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Blend together; butter and sugar.  Add in egg and vanilla until well mixed.

In a medium bowl, mix together: flour, baking soda and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the butter/sugar/vanilla/egg mixture.

Chill the dough for about 20 or 30 minutes, then roll into 1″ balls and place on a cookie sheet.  Then, roll around in your pretty colored sugars.

Place in your pre-heated 350 F oven and bake for about 8 minutes. (they will not look done)

As soon as you take them out, take your candy cane striped kisses and place one in the center of each cookie.

Let cool for about 3 minutes on the cookie sheet and then carefully place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.  The kisses are fragile and soft at this stage.

Candy Cane Striped Table Runner

And one last idea, just in case you are an overachiever like me. I decided my table needed one last touch, and whether it’s for a specific party, or just to spice up your Holiday decorations, this is a fun and easy project.

I happen to be a quilter, so I quilted this runner, but you could make this project as simple or as difficult as you like. For the top, I used ½ yard of white fabric, cut it in half lengthwise to give me two strips, each 9” wide. Then sewed them together along the short edges to form one long 9” wide piece. Then I marked lines at a 45 angle every 3 inches with a water soluble marking pencil. I sandwiched that top with my batting and backing fabric, basting them all together. I used those lines as guides to sew various widths of red ribbons and ric rac to from my candy cane stripes. By sewing through all three layers, I embellished and quilted my runner in one easy step. To finish, I used my favorite binding technique with a red and white polka dot fabric.

If you are not a quilter, or even a sewer, you could get a similar effect by purchasing a pre-made plain white table runner and attaching various red ribbons by either sewing them on, using a No-Sew fusible tape, or even gluing them on. Don’t be afraid to have some fun, and try something new!

Party with a Peppermint Twist!

Of course, with some crushed candy canes and a little peppermint extract, the possibilities are endless with adding your very own special Peppermint twist to your desserts! And with a little shopping and creativity, the decorations are as endless…

I hope my Open House inspired by a seemingly unassuming Candy Cane, has inspired you to host your own Holiday get together. And don’t forget to add your very own special twisted touches.

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