My mother has a Betty Crocker cookbook that has been falling apart for years. The binding has completely disintegrated and the pages are brittle from years of spills and splashes. It really isn't a very inventive cookbook. It was the type that was around in the 1960s and 70s when that generation was only interested in cooking "the basics." But every year, I think nostalgically of that particular cooking tome. It has three of my all-time favorite recipes in it. I've already shared the recipe for one of them: Crescents. This is another of those favorite recipes (with one minor tweak). They are somewhat labor-intensive in their original iteration, but kids love them (as do the adults who grew up loving them). This recipe doubles very well.
Candy Cane Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely crushed candy cane
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp red food coloring
2 tbsp finely crushed candy cane
2 tbsp sugar
1. Stir together sugar, 1/4 cup crushed candy cane, butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into one half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375.
4. For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
5. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. While the cookies bake, combine 2 tbsp crushed candy cane and 2 tbsp sugar. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies when you remove them from the oven. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack before the candy cane mixture melts to the pan. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Substitution Suggestions: I would NOT use anything other than peppermint-flavored candy canes for this recipe. You can add a very small splash of almond extract for extra flavor.
Lessons Learned: I am sometimes a lazy baker. If I'm running short on time, I forgo creating the candy cane shape and just create 1-inch balls out of each dough color and then alternate them on my cookie platter for the semi-twisted effect. (You won't run the risk of breaking the canes as you pull them off the pan.) You can also take bits of each dough and gently roll them together to create one ball with both colors.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar and does not require 1/4 cup crushed candy cane. My mother didn't stock peppermint extract in her pantry, so she substituted by using crushed peppermint in lieu of the extract. I do both for that extra minty flavor, but if you don't have the extract, just use crushed candy canes. In all, you'll need one cup total of the sugar-peppermint blend. Use more sugar than candy cane.