Candy canes are popular during the Christmas season. But once the holiday is over, these festively striped candy leftovers tend to get thrown away or sit untouched. With candy canes now being made available in a wide variety of flavors, rather than pitching them in the trash, put them to good use throughout the winter season.
Here are a few suggestions:

Baked goods:

Crush them and simply toss them into your favorite cookie doughs. One reader, C.H. from Kansas, shares: "I threw mine into a batch of sugar cookies. Yummy! I didn't change the recipe or time at all. Break the canes up into smaller, chocolate chip-size chunks. The candy will melt, so use a Silpat or baking paper on your cookie sheet. They freeze well, too." Or sprinkle them onto brownies, cakes, Rice Krispies treats, cupcakes or biscotti.
Here are two recipes. Pretty, fragrant and tasty to boot!

Candy cane biscotti
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 eggs
1 cup finely crushed peppermint candies (divided)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
Preparation: Leave butter out to soften. Crush candy canes. Toast almonds (350 F oven for 8-10 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 F.
Instructions: Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Cream together butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat in water, peppermint extract and eggs. Add flour mixture, 1/2 cup crushed candies and almonds. Mix until just blended. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 10-by-3-inch log on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool 15-20 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, cut logs diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Place on cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes; turn and bake 15 minutes or until edges are browned. Remove and cool on wire racks. Dip each cookie partially in melted chocolate. Before chocolate sets, dip ends into remaining crushed candies. Serving size: 40 cookies.

Candy cane drop cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely crushed candy canes, divided

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 F. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy; beat in vanilla. In another bowl, stir together flour, oats and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup crushed candy canes and mix until well combined. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls, then roll in remaining sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on greased/floured baking sheets. Flatten cookies with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern with the tines. Sprinkle each cookie with approximately 1/2 teaspoon crushed candy canes. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Serving size: Approximately four dozen. -- Donna, California

For hot beverages:

Use candy canes to stir and add flavor to hot cocoa, tea or coffee. If you love chocolate, dip part of the canes in melted chocolate and let the chocolate harden before using as a flavored stir stick. Or crush them and dip marshmallows or a plastic spoon in melted chocolate and roll them in the crushed candy canes. Let them harden and add them to your hot beverage, or simply eat as a sweet treat.


Save a couple in your cabinet or purse to soothe a sore throat or mild tummy upset, or to simply freshen your breath.

Valentine's Day treat:

Glue two candy canes together to form a heart. Add a little ribbon and give as Valentine's Day goodies.

photo by shutterbugchef