Peppermint candy sticks have been around for centuries, though there is some uncertainty as to where they originated from. Many accounts point back to Germany, around the 16th and 17th century.
The ones found on the shelves today are a bit different than the ones from 100’s of years ago, as the originals were likely to contain real peppermint oils and current varieties often have synthetic peppermint flavoring. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used since ancient times as a medicinal herb for ailments like stomach upset, to aid digestion and calm sore throats.
Making your own peppermint stick candy or dressing up store bought varieties is a fun way to celebrate a traditional seasonal favorite.
Old fashioned made peppermint sticks can still be found that contain natural peppermint oils. These are typically porous, which are perfect for this recipe. Using fresh lemon or citrus halves, insert old fashioned sticks into the fruit and allow them to sit for a while. They will absorb the natural flavor, and perk up the mint making them great alone or with water, teas, cocktails and cocoas.
Another way to dress up store bought sticks are to make candy cane wands. These can also be dipped in dark chocolate for an added antioxidant boost.
This homemade recipe uses fresh lemon juice and pure peppermint extract, and can also be dipped in chocolate for an elegant looking snack. The red food coloring can be substituted with dark beet root powder, and alternatively the corn syrup can be replaced with honey, maple syrup or black strap molasses.
If you have leftovers or bits and pieces of peppermints, they can be used in recipes, too. Make salted chocolate peppermint bark or homemade peppermint marshmallows, which are great accompaniments with warm beverages and can be used as stirrers.
They are also good sprinkled on foods like biscotti or yogurt.
Peppermint popcorn is an interesting spin on adding peppermint flavor to snacks, and the almond bark can be substituted with pure milk or dark chocolate or other flavoring ingredients.
Peppermint candies make great gifts, and saving and reusing glass jars is perfect for storing and presenting them. Wrapped with reused ribbon or other recycled materials, they are a sweet and minty addition to the season.
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