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How To Crush Candy Canes And Hard Candy Without Mess

Candy canes are a real guilty pleasure.

Crushing candy allows you to use it in so many different ways. But how do you crush candy canes without making a huge mess?

For small crushed pieces of candy cane, put it in a heavy-duty freezer bag and crush it with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. For a powder candy consistency, use a food processor. Freezing the candy for 30 minutes before you crush it makes it more brittle.

The tips in this article are focused on candy canes. Still, they’ll work for any hard candy, e.g. Creme Savers, Campinos, Life Savers, Jolly Ranchers, Werther’s Originals, and round peppermint candies.

Basically, any hard candy you can think of.

Use a meat tenderizer or other heavy object

Frozen candy cane in a freezer bag before being crushed
Freezing the candy before crushing it helps to keep it brittle and prevents sticking

This method is best if you want the candy crushed into small solid pieces but not completely pulverized.

It’s a mess-free and easy method.

The most important thing is to pick a strong bag to hold the candy. If you pick a weak bag it will rip and the candy will go everywhere.

  1. Put the candy canes in the freezer for 30 minutes before you crush them. Frozen candy cane is more brittle, so it’ll be easier to crush. It’ll also lose any stickiness.
  2. Put the frozen candy canes in a heavy-duty freezer bag. This will prevent any mess. A heavy-duty bag is much less likely to be ripped by a sharp piece of candy cane. If you only have regular sandwich bags, I suggest double bagging to make them stronger. 
  3. Squeeze most of the air out of the bag but don’t make it totally airtight, as this will increase the risk of rips.
  4. Place the bag between two towels. The bottom towel will provide some friction and stop the bag from sliding around. It will also muffle the noise and protect your kitchen counters from damage. If you’re worried about your counters, you can provide further protection by putting the bag on a chopping board. The top towel will reduce the risk of the bag ripping.
  5. Smash the bag with a meat tenderizer (flat side), rubber mallet, heavy pan, rolling pin, or hammer until you reach your desired coarseness.
  6. Put the crushed canes in a sieve or colander to separate the solid pieces from any dust (optional, and don’t forget to save the dust for later use!)

A meat tenderizer (amazon link), otherwise known as a kitchen mallet, is best because it has a large flat surface. This means it’s easier to aim, will get the job done quicker, and is less likely to make a mess. 

A good, heavy-duty freezer bag should be strong enough to contain the candy. But another suggestion is to use a thick envelope (amazon link). The kind you use for important letters you don’t want to get bent.

Candy cane crushed inside of a heavy-duty freezer bag
Hard candy after being crushed with a meat tenderizer

Using a food processor (best for powdered candy canes)

This is the best method if you want to have more of a powder consistency.

You’ll need to ensure your candy cane aren’t sticky before you put them in the food processor. Otherwise, they’ll gum up and stick to the blades (a cleaning NIGHTMARE).

If your candy canes are a bit sticky, add some powdered sugar into the processor as well. This should combat the problem. Freezing the candy canes briefly beforehand will also help.

  1. Break the candy canes up by hand into smaller, more manageable pieces. If you put the candy cane in whole, it will mean a lot more work for the blender. You want to minimize the stress on your processor as much as possible.
  2. Put the candy cane pieces in the freezer for 30 minutes. Frozen candy cane is more brittle, so it’ll be easier to crush. And it will be colder so will be less affected by any heat your blender produces.
  3. Put the frozen pieces in the food processor and use a low power pulse mode. Pulse mode makes it easier to control the consistency. It should only take a few seconds to pulverize the candy cane.
  4. Place the crushed canes in a sieve or colander to separate the bigger, solid pieces from the dust (don’t forget to save any unused canes for later).

If you’re doing this a lot it can be quite harsh on the blades. But you’d have to be running some sort of crushed candy cane business for this to become a problem!

Candy candy chopped up inside of a food processor
Candy cane before being crushed in a blender
Candy cane powder inside of a food processor
Using a blender lets you get quite a fine candy powder

Will hard candy break my food processor?

As a general rule, anything you can break with your teeth can be crushed in a blender or food processor. This includes hard candy.

Over time the blades may get worn down, but it’s unlikely that they’ll break. Especially if you take steps to reduce the stress on your blender such as breaking the candy by hand first and freezing it.

Putting whole candy canes or lots of thick hard candy can cause the motor to overheat. Excess heat is bad because the candy will start melting and get very sticky.

Check the wattage on your blender. The higher it is the more powerful the motor is and the more it can deal with. Anything above 300 watts should be fine with hard candy.

Using a mortar and pestle 

A mortar and pestle is only really practical if you’re crushing a small amount of candy.

You’ll have to use a bit of elbow grease and it’s nowhere near as fun as smashing the canes. It will take a bit longer than the other methods too.

But, it will much less noisy and you can very easily control the consistency of the crush.

Freezing the canes for 30 minutes before you crush them will make them more brittle. It will be easier to crush them.

Use a coffee grinder

A coffee grinder (amazon link) doesn’t just grind coffee.

You can also use it to grind your candy canes.

  1. First, break the canes up into small pieces. You can either use your hands or use the hammering method above. 
  2. Freeze the pieces for 30 minutes (to make them more brittle)
  3. If your grinder has different coarseness settings, pick your desired one
  4. Grind the candy canes
  5. Put the crushed canes in a sieve or colander to get separate the solid pieces from the dust (optional, and don’t forget to save the dust if you do this)

This method is great if you have a coffee grinder and allows you to get a really fine crush. But I wouldn’t go out and buy one specifically for this job.

Melt then crush (best for thick hard candy)

The candy cane shape lends itself quite well to being crushed with a heavy object, but other hard candies like Jolly Ranchers are an awkward shape.

They’ll move around the bag evading your hits. Like that game where the mole keeps popping out of different holes, then disappearing before you can catch him.

Their thickness also means they can stress a blender out quite quickly.

So how do you crush jolly ranchers?

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
  2. Lay the candy out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  3. Put the tray in a pre-heated oven and leave the candy to melt. This should take between 2-10 minutes, depending on the candies you have.
  4. Continue watching the candy to ensure it doesn’t burn
  5. Take the melted candy out of the oven and leave it to cool
  6. Once cooled, you can break the thin sheets of candy up with your hand. Or use one of the methods I mentioned above to crush them. Crushing the sheets will be a lot easier than crushing a thick candy

How to store candy canes (crushed or whole)

Moisture and humidity are the enemies of candy canes. If they’re exposed to too much moisture they’ll become sticky. 

Crushed candy canes will clump together.

Luckily it’s easy to protect your candy canes.

Store your candy canes in an airtight container with some uncooked rice or silica gel packets. Keep the container in a cool, dry place. A kitchen cupboard is ideal. The rice or gel packets will absorb any excess moisture and prevent the candy canes from becoming sticky.

Another trick is to coat whole candy canes, or larger broken pieces in corn starch. You can dust the starch off when you want to use them.

Crushed candy stored with rice in an airtight container
Storing hard candy with rice helps to prevent moisture build up

Can you freeze candy canes?

I wouldn’t recommend freezing candy canes for long term storage because when you thaw them they’ll become sticky.

Freezing them for an hour or two before you crush them is okay, because they don’t fully freeze.

Any longer and you’ll end up with a sticky mess.

Should you refrigerate candy canes?

I would only recommend kepping candy canes in the fridge if you live in a very hot and humid environment.

Normally the fridge has more potential moisture in the air than a kitchen cupboard. But when you live somewhere very humid the opposite is true.

You want to store the candy canes where they’ll be most protected from moisture.

If you’re not sure what’s best you can do a test. Store some in the fridge and some in a cupboard (both in airtight containers)  and see which ones last best.

How long do candy canes last?

Candy canes (crushed or not) will be at best quality for a year if you store them correctly. 

They’ll last well beyond this (possibly 2-3 years) but you might notice they become a bit softer. 

What can you use crushed candy canes for?

Remember I told you to save the dust from your crushed candy canes?

Well here’s why.

There’s TONS of fun and delicious things you can use left over candy canes for.

  • Sprinkle it over ice cream. You can even incorporate it into ice cream. Wait for the ice cream to soften, mix in the crushed candy canes, and then put the ice cream back into the freezer.
  • Make peppermint bark. This is basically a slab of chocolate covered in crushed candy cane. A guaranteed hit.
  • For an adult-only treat make some candy cane vodka. I love the minty flavor mixed with cranberry juice. You can even go a step further and rim your glasses with candy cane dust.
  • Use the crushed candy canes as popcorn flavoring. Make sure the powder is super fine because this will help it stick to the popcorn better.
  • Add the candy canes to drinks. Lattes and hot chocolates work particularly well. Milkshakes are a personal favorite of mine.
  • Fold the candy can dust into a meringue before baking. Make sure the candy cane powder is very fine or you risk the meringue deflating. You’ll end up with a slightly pink, slightly minty meringue.
  • Coat homemade marshmallows or chocolate-covered strawberries with the crushed canes.
  • Use them to make a homemade face or body scrub. Just make sure you leave any sharp bits out. ‘I got cut with a candy cane’ isn’t an impressive scar story!
  • Add the crushed canes to cake, brownie, or cookie batter. Don’t worry if you forget, you can also incorporate the canes into your icing, or simply dust them over the finished product.
  • Melt the canes and reshape them into lollipops or use them to make stained glass window biscuits. The canes will burn very quickly when you’re melting them, so don’t take your eye off the ball.

How To Crush Candy Canes And Hard Candy

The tips in this recipe are focused on candy canes. Still, they’ll work for any hard candy, e.g. Creme Savers, Campinos, Life Savers, Jolly Ranchers, Werther’s Originals, and round peppermint candies.
I've focued on two methods. The first (using a meat tenderizer) lets you get a coarse, crushed candy consistency. The second (using a blender or food processor) gives a much finer candy powder.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Ingredient, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 110 kcal

Equipment

Meat tenderizer
Blender
Heavy duty freezer bag(s)

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion Candy canes Or other hard candy.
  • 1 portion Powdered sugar Optional. to help prevent sticking.

Instructions
 

Crushed coarse candy (meat tenderizer method)

  • Put the candy canes in the freezer for 30 minutes before you crush them. Frozen candy cane is more brittle, so it’ll be easier to crush. It’ll also lose any stickiness.
  • Put the frozen candy canes in a heavy-duty freezer bag. This will prevent any mess. A heavy-duty bag is much less likely to be ripped by a sharp piece of candy cane.
  • If you only have regular sandwich bags, I suggest double bagging to make them stronger.
  • Squeeze most of the air out of the bag but don’t make it totally airtight, as this will increase the risk of rips.
  • Place the bag between two towels. The bottom towel will provide some friction and stop the bag from sliding around. It will also muffle the noise and protect your kitchen counters from damage. If you’re worried about your counters, you can provide further protection by putting the bag on a chopping board. The top towel will reduce the risk of the bag ripping.
  • Smash the bag with a meat tenderizer (flat side), rubber mallet, heavy pan, rolling pin, or hammer until you reach your desired coarseness.
  • Put the crushed canes in a sieve or colander to separate the solid pieces from any dust (optional, and don’t forget to save the dust for later use!)

Crushed fine candy (food processor method)

  • You’ll need to ensure your candy cane aren’t sticky before you put them in the food processor. Otherwise, they’ll gum up and stick to the blades (a cleaning NIGHTMARE).
  • Break the candy canes up by hand into smaller, more manageable pieces. If you put the candy cane in whole, it will mean a lot more work for the blender. You want to minimize the stress on your processor as much as possible.
  • Put the candy cane pieces in the freezer for 30 minutes. Frozen candy cane is more brittle, so it'll be easier to crush. And it will be colder so will be less affected by any heat your blender produces.
  • Put the frozen pieces in the food processor and use a low power pulse mode. Pulse mode makes it easier to control the consistency. It should only take a few seconds to pulverize the candy cane.
  • Place the crushed canes in a sieve or colander to separate the bigger, solid pieces from the dust (don’t forget to save any unused canes for later).

Nutrition

Calories: 110kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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