A few years ago, I posted a question on social media asking for Christmas cookie recommendations. Since I grew up largely without homemade Christmas treats, holiday baking was a bit of a mystery to me. Since then, I’ve spent the holidays steadily working my way through the (very) long list supplied by various Facebook friends. Those classics have been interspersed with other festive treats, of course, but I work my way through that list a little more each holiday season. Over the years, there have been Chocolate Crinkles and Gingerbread Men and plenty of shortbread, but I’ve kept putting off Candy Cane Cookies. (Until today, duh.)I found these twisty two-tone vanilla-mint cookies super intimidating. I have pretty sad motor skills and was afraid I didn’t have a dough in my arsenal that wouldn’t spread out and get weird. As usual though, I shouldn’t have been concerned.*
*I can’t be the only person out there who has cookie-related anxiety.My Candy Cane Cookies are totally adorable, delicious, and festive as all get-out! The dough I use here is a slight variation on the one I use for my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies. A very slight variation. The only differences are a 1/2 teaspoon less baking powder, a little more vanilla, and peppermint extract instead of almond.
Oh, and that half the dough is dyed bright red.This dough gets a three hour chill before it’s formed into cookies. A tablespoon of each color of dough is rolled into a rope.They’re twisted together and smoothed before being formed into candy cane shapes.If you want your cookies to have a more “arts & crafts” look, you can skip the smoothing step. Your cookies will be a little shorter and chunkier, but just as delicious as their more realistic-looking counterparts.The formed cookies each get a brush of egg white glaze before baking. This gives them a little sheen post-baking, and also allows you to decorate with holiday sprinkles and sparkling sugar. Cute, right?!Candy Cane Cookies expand a tiny bit while baking, but only enough to hide any imperfections incurred during the shaping process. I kind of like that they’re not all carbon copies of each other though.I’m also a big fan of their crisp edges, soft centers, and buttery mint flavor. Add in their hefty dose of holiday cheer and…well, what’s not to love? ❤
Candy Cane Cookies
makes 22-23 cookies
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring (preferably gel)
Glaze & Garnish:
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
holiday sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar, if desired
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each.
Divide dough in half. Form 1 half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside.
Add red food coloring to remaining dough and mix until evenly colored. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill both disks of dough for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough from each disk. Roll each tablespoon into a 6-inch rope. Carefully twist ropes together. Gently roll twist until edges are smooth and rope is 8-8 1/2 inches long. Remove to prepared pan and bend rope into a candy can shape. Repeat with remaining dough, setting formed dough at least 2 inches apart. Freeze formed dough for 10 minutes.
Make glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water until some bubbles form. Brush each formed cookie with a thin coat of the glaze and sprinkle with holiday sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar, if using.
Bake cookies 12-13 minutes. Cookies are done when dough is no longer wet-looking and edges are turning ever so slightly golden. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, forming, glazing, and baking with any remaining dough.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.