It's cookie time! It just doesn't feel like Christmas without some special home made cookies. I don't usually make more than one variety these days, so I've narrowed the holiday cookie selection down to my favorite: Candy Cane Cookies. These are a simple butter cookie that's not too sweet, but fun to make (and eat) with kids and they look festive too.
I usually make the dough a day or two before I plan to bake the cookies. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. This keeps the kitchen much neater and divides up the labor so it's more of a fun event than a holiday chore.
As with all baking projects, let's begin by assembling all the ingredients and making sure everything is ready. You can't see in this photo, but I also have several sheets of parchment paper cut and ready to go. As you can see, you'll nee two sticks of butter. Soften these until they're easy to stir up with the sugar and eggs. Then add the peppermint extract.
Next it's time to add the dry ingredients. When you are baking it's important to measure accurately. This recipe is pretty forgiving, but it's still a good idea to practice proper measurements. For dry ingredients like flour and baking powder, you can use the scoop and level method. Scoop a heaping cup or teaspoon of the ingredient, then sweep the excess off and back into the container for a level and accurate measurement. Like so:
Now, there are some who may say that this is not the most accurate way to measure flour. They may say that you can get a more accurate measurement by scooping the flour into the cup by the spoonful until it's heaping and then sweeping off the excess. However, the straightforward scoop and sweep was good enough for Julia Child, and it's good enough for me.
Once all the flour and dry ingredients are incorporated, you will have a pretty stiff dough. At this point you need to divide the dough so that you can make different colors. I like to take about half the dough out and leave it white, then divide the remaining dough into two bowls to make red and green. Squirt some food coloring on the dough and mix until you're happy with the colors. Then place each color on paper or plastic wrap and seal it up. The dough needs to be thoroughly chilled before you move on to the next step. I usually wrap each color separately, then seal them up together in a zip top bag or plastic wrap.
When you're ready to bake the cookies, take the dough out of the refrigerator and get some helpers ready to roll it out and shape it. Begin by pinching off small chunks of each color and rolling out some 'snakes'. Then twist the different colors together and shape them into candy canes on parchement lined baking sheets.
You can make these cookies large or small, and of course it's okay to make different shapes like circles or hearts. Use a little bit of flour if the dough gets too sticky. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they are puffed and very lightly brown at the edges. Baking time will depend on the thickness of your candy canes.
Candy Cane Cookies
recipe from Mom's kitchen
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
red and green food coloring
Mix the butter, sugar, eggs and peppermint flavoring first. Add the flour and baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Divide the dough and add food coloring. Wrap each color well and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to a week.
Roll out the dough into small log or snake shapes and twist colors together to make candy canes. Bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes.
These are perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee, but enjoy them right away because they will disappear quickly!