Monday, December 7, 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

This weekend we started our holiday cookie baking. The first Christmas cookie we baked was Candy Cane Cookies. This is a recipe from my grandma. My dad loves these cookies, so many years ago, I asked grandma for the recipe. But I never made the cookies!! Not for many, many years. Not until this past January when we made a batch and sent them to my dad for his birthday since we didn't make them at Christmas 2008 even though he requested them.

Candy Cane Cookies made the list for this year's holiday baking. But they may not stay on the list as they are a bit too labor intensive and rather annoying - more on the annoying part later!!

The dough has to chill, so Saturday morning before we went to Bob's, we made the dough. It's pretty straight-forward: cream shortening & sugar; add eggs, vanilla, & milk; add flour:Divide in half and tint one half red:Wrap & chill.I should note here that this is an old recipe. A vague recipe. Chill dough. Chill for how long? It doesn't say! In January, we chilled the dough for 1-2 hours. This time, it chilled from around 9 am until around 9 pm. It wasn't too chilled (super hard) when we took it out of the refrigerator. I would say at least an hour but I didn't notice any difference between 1-2 hours and 12 hours.

Next you "roll into ropes." No indication of how long to make the rope or how thick to make the rope. We winged it! We probably used 3/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of dough, shaped it into a ball, and then rolled it into a rope. The ropes were maybe 6 inches long - ? Shaping the dough into ropes is the labor intensive part.The red dough was very easy to work with and shape into ropes. The 'white' dough didn't want to stay together, it kept falling apart and tearing when I tried to shape it. That was the annoying part! SP seemed to have better luck with it so he was in charge of that dough and I shaped the red dough. The only thing we can think is that somehow the red tint 'helps' the red dough be smoother and less prone to tearing. Maybe we should tint the other half green? Add more milk to the other half? All that rolling & shaping of dough was making my hands mighty sticky & doughy. I didn't want to try to hold my water so I got out my Mickey Mouse straw and sipped my water:"Shape into candy canes." What you're supposed to do is twist a red rope and 'white' rope together and shape into a candy cane. Here again the 'white' dough was prone to tearing. We did lots of patching!

After a bit, SP discovered that if, after twisting, you rolled the twisted dough like a rolling pin, it helped cut down on the torn look and smooth the dough out for a prettier candy cane. So half our candy canes are smooth and half are... not smooth...!Our finished candy canes look OK. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, so I am rather dissatisfied with their appearance. It's a lot of work to roll out 6 dozen ropes, twist them, deal with ripping dough, and end up with 3 dozen cookies, some of which look like something you'd create out of play-dough in kindergarten art class. The photos towards the end of this post are of the 'smooth' candy canes; the photo at the very top is of 'not-so-smooth' candy cane cookies.They taste fine. They aren't my favorite cookie, but they aren't my least favorite. They're plain. Just a baked dough. A bit hard on the outside but soft on the inside. A lovely, homemade cookie taste, but plain. Definitely improved by eating with a cup of coffee or tea.

We set some aside for my parents, we kept some for ourselves for desserts this week, and we froze a few for taking to parties later in the month.

I will probably make these again, maybe not next year, though. We're discovering 'tricks' to making pretty candy canes and tear-free dough so maybe future batches will be less aggravating. I'll make them for my dad since he likes them a lot.

I do like them because they're Christmas-y (candy cane shape!) and make me nostalgic (grandma's kitchen and her trays of cookies).


  1. Strikes me that they should have a copious amount of peppermint extract added to them to fake being a candy-cane even more, no? :)

  2. Probably! I always wondered why grandma's recipe didn't call for peppermint extract! Maybe next year we'll try peppermint instead of vanilla.

  3. I made these one year. My recipe was different and added peppermint extract to make them more "candy cane-esque". I haven't made them since. Not because they aren't good, but because they are a pain to make =)