December 7, 2011

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

I had a few friends recommend the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion to me a while back, and I finally went and checked it out from the library.  I also had a Christmas cookie exchange party this week and wanted to bring something amazing, so I looked through the Baker's Companion for ideas.  Lo and behold, this candy cane cookie recipe jumped off the page at me and shouted, "Make me!"  So I did.  I have to give you fair warning--they're kind of labor intensive.  But they ended up being pretty fun once they were done.  Who knows?  Maybe making these will become a Christmas tradition.

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Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
(from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion)

5-1/3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or flavoring
2 cups flour (or 8.5 oz, if you're measuring by weight, as they suggest in the Baker's Companion)
Red food coloring
Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on a high speed for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, egg, and milk, and stir until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Mix in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, and peppermint.  Stir in as much flour as you can.
2. Now that you have your dough made, put 1/4 of it in a separate bowl, and use the food coloring to dye it red.  Now separate the remaining dough into two equal parts.  Leave one of them plain, and dye the other light pink.  Separate each color of dough into 6 equal portions.  This is where, for me, it was easiest to just roll them all into little balls, stick them on a plate, and put them in the fridge to chill overnight.  If your dough happens to be easier to work with than mine was, you can continue on ahead at full speed.  I found though that chilling the dough made a huge difference in the coming steps.

3. When you're ready to assemble the cookies, lightly flour a large work space and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll each dough ball into a rope 12 inches long.  Lay your strips of dough side by side, alternating colors, until they form a large rectangle.  See picture below.  Take a floured rolling pin and roll it across all of the strips of dough.  This will push the ropes together into one big rectangle of candy cane-y goodness.  You want the rectangle to be about 14x9 and about 1/4" thick.  Now you have one giant rectangle of striped dough.  Pretty nifty, right?

4. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into diagonal strips about 1/2 inch wide.  Now cut each strip in half, so you end up with strips about 5-7 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.  Place the strips on an ungreased cookie sheet, and carefully curve one end down to form a cane shape.  As a side note, make sure you turn them the right way so that they look like a J.  Christmas is about Jesus, after all.  Sprinkle them with sugar, if desired.
5. Bake them at 375 for 7-8 minutes, then remove them from the oven.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Don't overcook them or they will become ultra crispy very quickly.  Be ye warned.  Also, be careful as you're taking them off of the cookie sheet because they can be kind of fragile, and you might end up with a lot of broken candy canes if you try to rush it.  
6. Merry Christmas!  Eat your Christmas-y, pepperminty, candy cane cookies!

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