Photograph by Donna Covrett
As a child I made these every Christmas with my grandmother, Millie. She would roll the white dough into pencil-thin strips, I would roll the red, and then we’d race to see who could twist the two colors into the most candy canes. She always let me win.
Yield: 2 dozen
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon red food coloring
¼ cup of sanding sugar
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy
1 egg white pastry brush
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extracts. On slow speed fold in the salt and flour until combined, but don’t overmix. Remove half of the dough and set aside. Mix the food coloring into the remaining half. Wrap both pieces and chill for several hours.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Cut both halves of dough into 24 pieces each. Roll each piece into 5″- 6” pencil-thin ropes. Twist the ropes together to form candy canes. Brush with egg white and sprinkle in sugar and crushed candy. Bake 10–12 minutes.
• Substitute peppermint extract for the almond extract.
• Sanding sugar is large crystal sugar used for decoration. It is also called decorator’s sugar or pearl sugar. Because it reflects light, it lends a sparkling effect. Look for it where you buy cake decorating supplies or in specialty food stores.
• Use a bench scraper (also known as a dough scraper) for speed and ease in cutting the dough. Available at Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.
• If working by yourself, keep one dough refrigerated while you roll out the other; then switch.
• After cookies are twisted and topped with egg white and sugar, chill them for 15 minutes before baking. This helps retain their shape and keeps them from spreading.
• Do not allow the cookies to brown. If they are, try lowering the oven temperature to 350 degrees.