Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peppermint Angel Food Cake

Peppermint Angel Food Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

Red and white striped peppermints and candy canes have been a part of our household from the very beginning. I decorate with a country theme for Christmas. Our children grew up stringing popcorn (day old works best) and hanging candy canes on our Christmas tree along with homemade ornaments. The rest of the year I always kept peppermints handy. If a church service was lengthy I’d hand out peppermints to my restless kids. Car sick while traveling? Upset stomach? Sore throat? Peppermints are the perfect cure. My grown daughter hates the sight of peppermints and tells anyone who will listen how I tortured her childhood with my peppermint cure for everything. She refuses to have any in her house. Interesting enough her daughter, my granddaughter, loves grandma’s peppermints so I always give her a handful to take home. While I no longer string popcorn or hang peppermint candy canes on my Christmas tree I always keep some around for the holidays. I leave the new-fangled candy canes available in all sorts of colors and flavors for the younger generation. So it was an instant love affair for me when I first heard the concept of a Peppermint Angel Food Cake.

As early as 1901 the pure King Leo peppermint candy stick was produced and marketed. It is still available today in old-fashioned gift tins by its currant manufacture, Quality Candy Company Inc. The candy cane, a traditional candy for Christmas holidays, was originally a straight, hard, all-white stick that was invented by the French priests in the early 1400’s. The candy cane’s shape is credited to a choirmaster in Germany in 1670 who legend has it bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. Another theory is that as people decorated their Yule trees with food the bent candy cane was invented as a functional solution. Candy canes with red stripes and peppermint flavoring first appeared in the early 1900’s. In the 1920’s Bob McCormack began making candy canes in Albany, Georgia by hand. In 1950 his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest, invented a machine to produce candy canes. Today many machines are used in the production of making candy canes. Sugar and corn syrup is vacuum cooked in large kettles. When the candy is poured onto a cooling table peppermint and starch are added to hold the flavor and prevents stickiness while a kneader mixes the flavoring into the candy until it turns a golden brown color. Then the candy is placed into a puller that turns the candy white and is made into a log-like shape. The stripes are formed on a heating table after which the candy is formed into a cone shape where sizing wheels reduce it to the diameter of a candy cane and turn it into a rope. Next a twister makes the rope into a barber pole. A cutter then snips the candy into strips. While still warm the candy canes are placed in wrappers where heat will shrink-wrap the candy. A crooker gives the candy cane its hook. Finally the candy canes are inspected and shipped out to sell. National Candy Cane Day is celebrated on December 26th. The world’s largest candy cane was created by Paul Gbinellie measuring 58 feet and 2¼ inches. Each year 1.76 billion candy canes are made.

My Peppermint Angel Food Cake is an elegant holiday dessert that will instantly attract chocolate lovers as well as others. The soft angel food texture interspersed with swirls of peppermint, combined with rich chocolate, and bits of crunchy peppermint will make this a never to be forgotten dessert. Preparation time for the Peppermint Angel Food Cake takes around fifteen minutes and serves sixteen.

Peppermint Angel Food Cake

1 angel food cake mix
¼ tsp peppermint extract
10 peppermints (I used sugar free)
Prepare the angel food cake mix as directed adding the peppermint extract. Pour the batter into a tube pan. Crush the peppermints and gently fold into the batter. Bake at 350ยบ for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

¼ c cocoa
pinch of salt
2 c powdered sugar
¼ c shortening
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c milk
7 peppermints (crushed)
Blend cocoa, salt, and powdered sugar together. Mix in shortening and vanilla. Add milk and beat until smooth. You can add more milk for a thinner frosting. Ice cake with the chocolate frosting until completely covered. Sprinkle crushed peppermints on the top and around the side. May garnish with candy canes!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

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