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Candy Cane Cookies are a deliciously fun baking project for cookie lovers of all ages.
There’s so much to love about these candy cane cookies! The festive shape is fun and eye-catching, and the flavor is fantastic. With the perfect hint of peppermint and a crunchy sugar coating, these easy to eat cookies are worth every minute it takes to make them.
Are candy cane cookies hard to make?
These peppermint cookies are not difficult to make, but they do take a little time to roll into the festive candy cane shape. Invite your favorite little bakers to help and make quick work of the recipe. You’ll have about 50 cookies to share, which means there’s plenty for everyone.
Can you freeze these candy cane cookies?
These candy cane cookies freeze beautifully and even retain their nice crispy exterior! Layer between wax or parchment paper and freeze in a well sealed airtight container, until needed. Once thawed these cookies will keep for up to a week, if stored in a cool location.
Is it okay to make the cookie dough ahead of time?
The cookie dough can be made and refrigerated for up to three days before it’s needed. Wrap the finished dough(s) in plastic wrap and refrigerate in a large zipper bag. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before rolling and shaping. Once the cookies are formed into candy canes, refrigerate for at least 30-minutes before baking.
Use the peppermint extract sparingly, as a little goes a long way.
I’ve used a combination of vanilla and peppermint extracts for these sugar cookies. You’ll only need 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to achieve the perfect flavor. Don’t be tempted to go overboard with the peppermint extract. More is not better, in this case.
Use good quality butter.
For the best flavor use a good quality unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe. When baking during the holidays I like to splurge a little and buy European style butter for all my cookie recipes. The flavor and creaminess can’t be beat!
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Candy Cane Cookies
For the cookie dough:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226g or 8 ounces)
- 1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature (28g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (222g)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (393g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
For finishing the cookies:
- ½ teaspoon red gel food coloring
- ¾ cup granulated sugar for rolling (170g)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until well blended. Add 1 cup of sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Beat until combined.
- In a small bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and blend on low until incorporated. Add the remaining flour and beat until a soft dough forms.
- Transfer half the dough to a clean bowl. (A scale is helpful to ensure it’s divided equally.) Add the red food coloring and blend until no streaks remain.
- Pour the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar into a pie plate.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the uncolored dough and roll into a 4-inch rope. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the red dough and also roll into a 4-inch rope. Lay the ropes side-by-side and gently roll the two ropes together to adhere, taking care to keep the length at about 4-inches.
- Transfer the rope to the granulated sugar and roll to coat. Twist the rope a few times and transfer to the baking sheet. Form into a candy cane by curving one end into a hook. Repeat with remaining dough spacing the cookies 1-inch apart.
- Refrigerate the unbaked cookies for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until firm to the touch and just starting to brown around the edges. For best results, do not over-bake. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack and cool completely. (Optional: while the cookies are hot from the oven, sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired. The sugar will melt on the hot cookie and adhere.)
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