Love candy canes, but want to dazzle holiday dessert lovers with a really impressive Christmas cookie that looks and tastes even better than a candy cane? These classic candy cane cookies are for you!
Imagine a soft, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth, vanilla-mint cookie in the color scheme of a traditional candy cane — and in a shape that can hang decoratively over a mug of hot cocoa. That’s what you get with this holiday cookie recipe.
Now, these cookies can be a little tricky to make, and require some patience. You’ll find them worth the effort, though, when everyone at the cookie exchange asks you how you made such fun, festive goodies. (Of course, that’s only if you manage to get them out the door past your family!)
Working the candy cane cookie dough
Recruit your kids to help make these holiday cookies (and make some happy memories) as you teach them holiday baking skills that they can take into adulthood — and pass along to their kids.
This is the kind of cookie that becomes a fun tradition: Make them together with your kids when they’re little, and send a box full of them to college when they’re grown.
Let’s do the twist!
Once you get the hang of the technique, these are simple to make.
Different is good
Feeling creative? Mix it up!
Colors: Twist the colors of your favorite team, different shades of the same color, your kids’ school colors, colors to match your Christmas tree… the possibilities are endless.
Shapes: After you twist the dough, instead of curving it into a candy cane shape, make a little round wreath, a spiral, a heart, or simply a long cookie stick.
Classic candy cane cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until batter appears soft, about 90 seconds.
- Scrape down sides of bowl, then add egg, vanilla extract and peppermint. Mix until combined.
- With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour and salt. Mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix dough.
- Remove half of dough from mixing bowl. Form in 1-inch-thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap and set in refrigerator.
- Add 1/2 plus 1 teaspoon of red food coloring to remaining dough and mix on low speed. Add additional food coloring as needed until dough is a bright, vibrant red.
- Form red dough in 1-inch thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap and set in refrigerator.
- Chill dough discs for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove both pieces of dough from fridge.
- Pinch off about 2 tablespoons from each disc of dough, and roll into thick rope about 6 inches in length.
- Pinch two ropes together at top and gently twist together.
- Transfer twisted ropes to baking sheet and gently hook top over to create candy cane shape.
- Repeat with remaining dough. (Note: If dough starts to break as you roll it or if it becomes difficult to work with, put it back in fridge to chill for 15 minutes.)
- When all cookies have been shaped, chill both sheets of cookies for 15 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges and tips of cookies are just barely golden.
- About halfway through baking, swap the positions of the two baking sheets in oven to ensure even baking.
- Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet.
- Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
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The hook is the perfect shape for dunking in milk, coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
A traditional cookie, made with love!