Candy Cane Infused Vodka

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas (cue music)

No really it is, there are decorations up in all the shops and here in the city I live in Christmas has been heralded in by the annual Christmas pageant which is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Christmas pageants in the world. Its huge and this year over 350 000 people turned out to watch it (that’s like 1/3 of the city’s population).

Tradition growing up was that we put the Christmas tree up on pageant day, and I’ve continued this tradition with my kids. We blast out the Christmas music (much to my husband’s horror), and set to work putting up and decorating the tree and much of the house. We even had our outside lights up on the same day. Whilst that sounds impressive it’s really 2 strands of solar powered lights which over time have become entangled with a climbing rose and wisteria so we can’t actually pack them up, so all actually do is flick the on switch.

One of my new Christmas traditions is to make candy cane infused vodka. I got the idea to make it whilst listening to the Joy the Baker podcast and Joy and co host Tracey were talking about making infused vodka. I thought candy cane infused vodka would make an amazing present. I was wrong on 2 counts with this. I envisioned little jar of candy canes surrounded by vodka, reality the vodka essentially melts the candy canes within hours so its becomes a pink, sticky vodka mixture. The second reason is the smell. The permit in the candy canes combines with the vodka to make a scent one what one might tactfully call super charged mouth wash. I’ve totally put you off making it now haven’t I, well stick with me on this.

Ok so it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but not being one to waste vodka I put out the call on facebook as to what I could drink it with. A very wise and knowledgeable friend suggested apple juice. So I bought some apple juice and mixed a shot of the candy cane vodka in with a glass of apple juice and hello new favourite Christmas drink. The peppermint worked really well with the apple juice. I’, thinking about this year taking it a bit further and making full cocktail using the vodka, so I’m all up for suggestions on things to mix with the candy cane vodka.

I’m not going to give you a recipe for this as it’s so easy. You just need a glass jar, vodka ( go with mid range stuff) and candy canes. Simply put candy canes in jar pour in vodka so it comes almost all the way up to the top of candy canes (I used 7 full sized candy canes in a 500ml jar then just poured in vodka till almost up to top of candy canes), put lid on leave in dark place for 3-4 weeks shaking every couple of days and ta do, candy cane vodka.

Pavlova

I’m not a big fan of pavlova. Yeah its un Australian to admit it, but it’s just not my thing.

Now we have that confession out the way, I’ll also confess I’ve only made pavlova 3 times, including making it for this blog post.

Why am I making it if I don’t really like it. Well it all starts with last Christmas. We were hosting 20 + people at our house for lunch. If you’ve been to our house you can kind of understand this was a feat in itself (we have a small house). So because re arranging the whole house and cooking a meal for 20 people wasn’t enough of a challenge I thought I should serve Pavlova. I mean it’s the quintessential Australian desert (or maybe it’s from New Zealand, I’m not even going to go into that argument), perfect for summer and Christmas.

So I studied a few recipes, did a test Pavlova, took it to work where everyone said it was great. Was feeling confident. Well….

I was planning to make the pavlova Christmas eve and put the cream and fruit on it on Christmas day. Fairly sound plan, except with so much to do I only remembered the pavlova at 11:30pm Christmas eve. I mean that’s ok. We had so much else to do we’d be up till 2am anyway. So I go to make the pavlova and immediately stuff it up by adding the sugar to egg whites without whipping the egg whites up. Ok, stress levels starting to rise, I was down to my last 6 eggs. So I give it another attempt. no mistakes, it turns out perfectly. I leave it in the oven to cool as the recipe states.

Now for breakfast Christmas morning we have croissants for breakfast. I stick the oven on to cook them, get distracted, come back 15 mins later to put croissants in oven, opps pavlova is still in there. Ok it’s now kinda double cooked but still seems ok. So we move it to the kitchen bench were it sits quite happily until husband opened upper cupboard and box of crackers falls out and lands on pavlova.

At this point I’m really beyond caring. It’s Christmas day I’ve got 20 people coming for lunch, 2 kids who have opened toys and are over excited. There is mess everywhere. I’m like lets shove whipped cream and fruit on it and hope for the best. We do and people love the pavlova (ok lots of wine was drunk with lunch so it might have clouded people’s opinions but hey I’ll take the positive feedback).

So why make it again. Well it’s so quintessentially Australian I have to make it as part of my classic Australiana baking series. And also because I used to be scared of the idea of making pavlova. Really its not that hard, plus if it gets crushed by a falling box of crackers, it can totally be saved by whipped cream and beautiful seasonal fruit.

So let’s make Pavlova

There’s eggs or egg whites to be precise (lots of them)

Bit of salt

Bit of whipping

Sugar (lots of it) and then more whipping

Vanilla + vinegar + cornflour

Pavlova – recipe adapted from Julie Goodwins Our Family Table

6 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups caster sugar

1 tlbps cornflour

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600 mils cream

seasonal fruit (although in this case I used frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 170 degree C (150 if fan forced). Line baking tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites and salt together until soft peaks appear.

Add in in sugar a little bit at a time. Once all added beat until stiff and glossy

Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Be very gentle when doing this as you don’t want to knock the air out of the mixture.

Spread mixture on baking paper. make sure it’s not all the way to the edges.

Bake 30 mins then turn down heat to 140 degrees C (120 fan forced) and bake another 40 mins. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool in oven (its fine to leave it in there overnight or several hours).

When ready to assemble whip cream, spread on pavlova, top with fruit, serve bask in glow of having made and excellent pavlova.