There’s a story to these little delights! I grew up baking with my mom pretty often (I’ll address this more later)…and one of the many recipes in her big box of recipes was a recipe for candy cane cookies. We tried to make these twisty gems over a few years but they never worked out. Chemist and pastry chef I am not, so I can’t tell you if there wasn’t enough baking soda, or too much flour, etc.
But about two years ago, for the heck of it, I hopped on FoodNetwork.com and poked around to see if another such recipe existed. Well, lo and behold, it did! Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade fame had tackled the candy cane challenge with a recipe worth tackling.
I came home that year and proudly pounded the recipe down on the kitchen counter declaring it “secret ingredient…CANDY CANE!!” night at casa Owens. Mom was skeptical, I was hopeful, Dad took a nap on the couch.
Maybe it’s the inclusion of cream cheese, maybe it was Christmas luck…I don’t know. But when we started twisting logs of red and white together, they stuck together (a previous issue we’d had with the other recipe). And when we pulled them out of the oven we could lightly press crushed candy cane chunks and dust into the still soft canes (Mom’s faaabulous! idea). And after they had cooled they were a soft, silky but still dense cookie (with a crunch!).
So, give or take 20 years after our failed attempts my Mom and I finally had our candy cane cookie dreams come true. It was sweet…but it did not last long…as they were quickly eaten…all of them.
I will recommend that between batches, put the dough in the fridge to keep cold or else they become oily and we *think* this was an issue for us on one batch? Maybe? Also, consider all the other options and flavors! What about orange and cocoa flavored twisted sticks!? Or instead of peppermint, use almond extract. Instead of canes, form little wreaths, or even hearts (Valentine’s day is on its way!). I’ll have to experiment a bit with this recipe…let me know if you do, too.
Candy Cane Cookies with Crushed Peppermint Topping
- 1 box sugar cookie mix
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for surface
- Red food coloring
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 1 1/2 cups peppermint candies or candy canes, crushed (with a hammer if you want to get some aggression out)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine sugar cookie mix, melted butter, egg, cream cheese, and flour; mix together to form dough. Separate dough into 2 equal portions and place in 2 different bowls. Add red food coloring gradually to 1 bowl of dough, kneading together until desired shade of red is created. To second bowl of uncolored dough, add peppermint extract and knead together. On a floured work surface, shape each dough into balls and then roll each ball into 1/4-inch-wide ropes, each about 6 inches long. For each cookie, carefully twist some of the red and white ropes of dough together and shape into a candy cane. Spread candy canes out on cookie sheets and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer to a rack to cool before serving.