For me, this week is all about those special memories that can only be forged during the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not writing. I’m not Tweeting. I’m not checking out a hot shirtless model for next book cover. … Okay, maybe I peeked at that last one!
What I’m mostly likely doing is opening my recipe book to the cookie section and dragging a family member into the kitchen to help me get flour and sugar on every available surface. My favorite holiday recipe is for Candy Cane Cookies. I love these festive cookies for their hint of almond flavor and the crushed candy canes on the top. I only make them once a year, and I double the recipe below.
I will warn you to make sure that you only use peppermint candy canes (or candies). A couple years ago, I went around our family Christmas tree, plucking off all the red and white candy canes. I crushed them into the topping, which I then sprinkled onto the cookies. Well, you can imagine my dismay when I took a bite and discovered mixed in with the refreshing mint flavor was also the not-so-refreshing taste of watermelon candy. Yes, unbeknownst to me, one (or more) of the candy canes I crushed was watermelon flavored, not mint, and the combination was not-so-yummy.
Last year I used round peppermint candies to ensure there was no mix-up, and I’ll do so again this year. But the watermelon candy cane cookies are the ones I’ll reminisce over as I roast chestnuts on an open fire and Jack Frost nips at my nose.
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 t. salt
½ – 1 t. red food coloring
1 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candy
Mix butter, shortening and powdered sugar. Mix in egg, almond extract and vanilla. Continue mixing as you add in flour and salt.
Divide dough in half. Place in separate bowls. Blend food coloring into one bowl of dough.
Shape one tablespoon of dough from each color into a rope. Place ropes side by side on a cookie sheet. Press together lightly and twist. Curve down the top third to form a candy cane.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minute.
Immediately after removing from oven, sprinkle cookies with crushed peppermint candy. Wait until cookies are cool to prevent breakage when removing them from the pan.
Enjoy the tastes and smells of the season. Happy holidays!