Martha Stewart Has a Genius Use for Candy Canes

Plus, the one type of cookie Stewart makes every holiday season.

When the range of seasonal sweets swings from holiday sugar cookies to babka and brittle, classics like candy canes are often considered more décor than dessert. We all have a box of the striped peppermint sticks on hand to hang on the tree or garnish a cocktail glass, but of course Martha Stewart has a much better way to use the leftover Christmas candy.

When I hopped on a quick call to chat with the queen of entertaining on some of her holiday indulgences, she shared an annual tradition: homemade candy cane ice cream. "My grandchildren love it," she said. "We crush candy canes with a rolling pin and mix them into the custard." And voilà—a dessert that'll actually have you craving candy canes. (We plan on replicating this with store-bought vanilla ice cream rather than homemade custard. So sue us.)

Martha Stewart and a photo of candy canes
Getty Images for Netflix

Also: There is currently a candy cane shortage, so make sure to stock up quickly.

In her recent—and 99th!—cookbook, Fruit Desserts, Stewart shared a few winter recipes that weave peak-season fruit into holiday showstoppers like pavlova. But with so many cookbooks under her belt, it's hard for Stewart play favorites with desserts—especially when she's editing down a "mass library of recipes" to just 100. When I asked what other Christmas classics she makes each year, however, she immediately responded that she always bakes sugar cookies and a variety of tarts.

F&W Recipe: Snickerdoodle Sugar Cookies

The lifestyle legend has a few other holiday traditions like "decorating as many trees as possible for the house," which are artificial (to avoid being a fire hazard) and some even pre-lit. As for the main course of holiday dinners, Stewart "looks for themes," she said. "We make a cassoulet one night, a rack of lamb or roast beef another night, or salmon with scalloped potatoes."

And—no surprise—Stewart cooks with local, sustainable ingredients, many of which she grows herself on her "little farm" (which spans a cool 153 acres) in Bedford, NY. But even for those of us who don't have a sprawling working farm or the culinary prowess of the media mogul, we can "bake" à la Martha this season thanks to a few simple candy canes and a carton of vanilla ice cream.

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