Early this past summer I started thinking about what kind of dessert I could make using candy canes. I knew that I wanted to use a favorite family recipe, Chocolate Delight, as the basis for the candy cane dessert, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.
The one thing that I knew to be a very bad idea was to add mint extract to any part of the dessert. I have been exceptionally leery of peppermint extract ever since my freshman year in college. One of my roommates decided to make an angel food cake and then frosted it with peppermint flavored white frosting. Word to the wise: too much peppermint extract in white frosting = eating toothpaste on cake. Shudder!
Everybody has those ‘really bad idea’ cooking moments. If you cook at all, you have had at least one of them. I have had those moments on a regular basis since I started this blog. They are frustrating, deflating, humiliating, and embarrassing. (Insert dissonant Alfred Hitchcock movie music here.) But then, there are the “aha” moments and everything magically comes together. (Insert angelic choir music here.) This dessert falls into the angelic choir music category.
The key to making this recipe possible was a little trick I saw on a couple of other blogs: candy cane powder. (Funny, I almost typed iocane powder–you know, from The Princess Bride…go watch the movie.) Candy cane powder is simply pulverized candy canes. Break them into a few pieces, toss them in the food processor, and push the “on” button. When the serious noise stops and it sounds like sand hitting the side of the bowl instead of rocks, turn off the food processor and take a look inside. Surprise! Candy cane powder!
This is really a fun dessert. The base is made from finely crushed Oreos®, with the filling, plus some melted butter. The second layer has cream cheese, powdered sugar, that very fun candy cane powder, and Cool Whip®. The third is white chocolate pudding, followed by more Cool Whip®. To finish things off and make it look all pretty, various sprinkle choices are available. I chose crushed candy canes, but you can see some other ideas below in the tutorial.
Break up 30 chocolate wafer cookies with the white filling (Oreo’s) in a food processor. When finished they should look like fine crumbs…no, actually, they should look like some seriously wonderful potting soil.
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the melted butter in through the food shoot.
Firmly press the cookie/butter mixture into the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch dish.
Seriously, doesn’t this look amazing already?
My hands always look like this after I pot seeds for summer vegetables. You can clean your own hands however you wish after you get through pressing the crust into the dish. Licking is permitted…unless you are allergic to cocoa/chocolate like me. 🙁 Washing with soap and water is also acceptable.
Be sure to take the paper off of the candy canes before breaking them and putting them into the food processor. When the processing begins, there is going to be a lot of noise. Get some earplugs.
This is the coolest thing. While the candy canes are being pulverized, very fine candy cane powder seeps out of the food processor lid. It’s like candy cane mist. Dreamy.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Scrape the side of the bowl as necessary.
Add the candy cane powder and the powdered sugar to the cream cheese. Mix well until smooth and creamy. The mixture will be slightly grainy because of the candy cane powder. This will resolve as the completed dessert chills.
For the pièce de résistance, fold in the whipped topping. Use your best folding skills and you will be richly rewarded.
Yes, this tastes as wonderful as it looks. Spread the candy cane cream cheese mixture over the well chilled crust.
Time for a taste break. Dare you to resist.
This is the brand and flavor of pudding I used. I have to confess that although this pudding stated that it was white chocolate, I failed to detect a white chocolate flavor. Perhaps that is because there was absolutely no type of cocoa product listed in the ingredients. So, if you can’t find white chocolate pudding at your grocery store, I am certain that vanilla pudding would work equally as well, if not better.
Put the pudding powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the three cups of milk and follow the instructions in the set of pictures below.
Read and learn. Use a whisk to mix the pudding and the milk. If you use an electric hand mixer, the chances of splattering liquid pudding all over you and your kitchen are quite high. So, use a whisk! The pudding will start to thicken after about two minutes of whisking. Stop whisking…or keep going for a few minutes longer; it’s entirely your choice.
Pour the thickened-ish pudding on top of the candy cane layer.
And spread it evenly all around. If you want it all pretty, you could use an offset spatula to make the pudding smoooooth. Clearly, I chose the rustic look. Perfection typically escapes me. There has to be balance in the universe. Secretly…I wish I had remembered that I have an offset spatula. Secretly? I would have used it to make this perfect. Is there no end to my shame? Cover the dish and return it to the refrigerator for 30 minutes in order to give the pudding a chance to thicken for a while..
Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pudding. You have some choices to make about applying the whipped topping–again, I chose the charming, homespun, rustic look. Cover and return to the refrigerator for 4 hours. This dessert should be thoroughly chilled prior to serving and can be made a day ahead.
It took me a while to decide what kind of sprinkly stuff to put on top of the whipped topping. My top flavor pick was the Andes Peppermint Crunch pieces. They are addictively delicious and have little tiny bits of candy cane crunchies in them. However, the red color is muted or muddy and I wanted a bright red color. Jimmies are a perennial favorite and you can always count on them to bring the visual fun. Along with jimmies there are other seasonal sprinkle mixtures that will put a smile on your li’l face. In the end, I chose crushed candy cane pieces. They had the bright red color that I wanted, plus they reinforced the peppermint flavor.
To make candy cane pieces, put candy canes into a plastic bag and break them up by hitting them with a rolling pin. They break quite easily.
No matter what your choice of toppings may be, it is best to add them just before serving. Candy cane pieces will dissolve and the colors from various types of sprinkles will bleed into the moist whipped topping if added too soon.
Creamy, dreamy, pepperminty wonderfulness.
Just for fun, here are the links to three great You Tube videos for The Princess Bride: