After a few rounds of testing in the OtherWorldly Kitchen, these Candy Cane Butter Cookies are now light, crisp, and tender–in other words, melt-in-your mouth wonderful.
These candy-cane shaped cookies have gone through a lot of hemming, hawing, and testing over the years. I love the idea, but the final result was never quite perfection. Last year, the texture was not tender enough and the peppermint flavor not pronounced enough. They looked pretty, but well…
But this year, with a few minor alterations, I FINALLY have the absolute best candy cane butter cookie I have ever tasted. So what made the difference?
First, I cut back the flour a little. Now the two ropes of dough are soft enough to more easily adhere to each other. A lighter dough also enables the cookies to benefit from the rising action provided by the baking powder. The structure is more open and the baked cookies are now light, crisp, and tender–which is typically called melt-in-your-mouth.
Second, I used King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour. King Arthur flours are the highest quality and yield predictable results every time.
Third, I threw away a half can of baking powder that was near its expiration date and bought a new can. Baking powder loses its strength over time.
Fourth, I tripled the amount of peppermint I usually use, from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon.
Fifth, I added broken candy canes to the finishing powdered sugar and processed the two to a powder. This really amps up the peppermint flavor.
So now, this jolly little cookie is as lovely to eat as it is to behold. What a great feeling when a little perseverance pays off!
Candy Cane Butter Cookies
These pretty cookies take a little patience and manual dexterity to shape properly, but the results are well worth the effort.
3 cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups unsalted butter, cool room temperature (4 cubes)
2½ cups powdered sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
red or green food coloring
6 ounces candy canes, broken
1 cup powdered sugar
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat just until smooth. Add the almond (or peppermint) and vanilla extracts and mixes well.
- Add the flour mixture and blend just to incorporate.
- Divide the dough in half (makes two 22-ounce portions) and add the food coloring to one portion. Divide each portion in half again, form each into a rough cylinder, about 2-inches in diameter, and wrap well with plastic wrap.
- Chill for at least 2 hours; overnight is even better.
- You should have four cylinders of dough in the refrigerator. Remove one red or green cylinder and one uncolored cylinder from the refrigerator and unwrap.
- Cut each cylinder in half crosswise, and then re-wrap and return half of each to the refrigerator.
- Using a flour-dusted pastry cloth or silicon rolling sheet and continued very light dusting of flour as needed, with your hands, roll each portion of dough out to a long rope, ¾-inch in diameter and about 18 inches long. (Remember rolling clay in grade school art classes?)
- Position a colored rope and an uncolored rope side-by-side, and then twist them around each other, compacting the dough as you proceed. The idea here is to get the two colors to twine around each other and stick together. Don’t begin rolling outward until the two halves of dough adhere to each other. Pinch and push together as needed.
- Using your fingertips only, gently begin to roll the dough outward, twisting it as you go (to twist, push forward with the fingertips of one hand and pull back with the fingertips of the other), until the rope is a little less than ½-inch in diameter. As the rope begins to get too long to handle easily, cut it in half and work with one 12-inch length at a time.
- Cut the rope into 4-inch lengths, and place cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, about ½-inch apart.
- Curve one end of each cookie to form a candy cane shape.
Bake at 375ºF for about 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven.
- After a minute or so, remove cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula and place on a wire rack to cool.
- In the meanwhile, using a processor fitted with the steel blade and the pulse action, process the candy canes and powdered sugar to a fine powder. Fill a powdered sugar shaker with this powder (or put a large scoop of the powder mixture into a coarse, single-meshed sieve.
- When cool, dust lightly the cookies with the powdered sugar mixture.
- Store in layers separated with wax paper sheets in an airtight container.
Makes about 6-dozen medium cookies.
Here’s the entire LunaCafe Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Deck the Halls collection. If you bake along, one cookie a day from December 1st to December 12th, you’ll have a wonderful selection of holiday cookies to share with family and friends, with time to spare.
- On the 1st day of Christmas: Lily’s Swedish Vanilla Spritz
- On the 2nd day of Christmas: Orange Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- On the 3rd day of Christmas: Decidedly Lemon Teacakes
- On the 4th day of Christmas: Once in a Chocolate-Spice Moon Cookies
- On the 5th day of Christmas: Peppermint Stick Shortbread
- On the 6th day of Christmas: Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies
- On the 7th day of Christmas: Toasted Almond Black Cherry Shortbread
- On the 8th day of Christmas: Green Tea & Rose Spritz
- On the 9th day of Christmas: Toasted Almond Black Cherry Shortbread
- On the 10th day of Christmas: Lemon Orange Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
- On the 11th day of Christmas: Candy Cane Butter Cookies
- On the 12th day of Christmas: Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor
Copyright 2008 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.
We used to make these when I was little!
These look delicious Susan – And SO festive!
These are adorable! And the tutorial looks so easy even I could do it 🙂 (seriously, I’m pretty-cookie challenged)
Cute cookies! Good reminder about baking powder, too. I need to check the date on mine to make sure I’ve got a fresh enough can for the season’s holiday baking. Thanks!
My kids are totally gonna go crazy for these! I have to exercise full parental supervision when I hand these goodies! So delish and holiday-perfect!
Oooooh! I can also see making these as pinwheel refrigerator cookie, no muss, less fuss.
Susan S. Bradley
Bill, yes indeed, that’s a good option. 🙂
Yum! These cookies sound amazing!
Butter cookies are one of my favorite holiday cookies! These look so good!
These are so adorable, you have the best holiday cookie recipes! Another one for me to try with the kids soon 🙂
My kids would absolutely love it if I made them these! So cute!
Ah, these are wonderful! It does sounds like a bit of work but looks totally worth it! I wish I could try one right now!
MC, I’m not going to lie and say these aren’t alot of work. They ARE a lot of work. 🙂 But it’s really just a matter of getting the hang of the rolling process. It requires a very light touch. You could just avoid all that and create two rolls about 2 1/2-inches in diameter, then slice 1/4-inch thick rounds from that. They won’t look like candy canes, but they will still taste great. BTW, our site Admin, MauiJim, ate more than a dozen of these cookies today. 🙂
I love the idea of these cookies but rarely love the finished product. However your description of your testing and your results–and your willingness to really amp the peppermint flavor–have convinced me I must try these. Now.
Laura, yes, exactly. I make these every year and every year wish they actually tasted as good as they look. Now, they finally do! And then that last moment inspiration to pulverize candy canes into the powdered sugar finish. That takes them right over the top. I do hope hope you like them!
These are quite pretty! I’m toying with the idea. 🙂
Anonymous, toying with the idea? Come on, get out the baking sheets. 🙂