The perfect peppermint treat for Christmas! An easy, buttery and deliciously soft shortbread dough twisted into the shape of a candy cane!
These peppermint candy cane cookies are made at least two or three times around Christmas at my house every year. I am not even lying when I say that the first batch of these cookies were gone within the afternoon In my defense, I was busy with the baby so I think my kids took advantage of not having mom around. So they ate all the cookies 🙂
The dough is an easy, buttery and super soft shortbread dough.... although I think it also tastes like a sugar cookie too. A mix of both. You use red food coloring to color half the dough and then pinch of pieces of dough, roll into a snake shape and then twist together! They really are not as hard as they might appear. Promise!
I will note that you need to use a lot of red food dye. If you don't get the red dough "red" enough it will turn to an almost pink color while baking. I probably could have done a few more drops of the red food color because mine turned a bit pinkish after cooking.
I have only ever baked these for the minimum cooking time. They bake quickly and if you over bake them they will be crunchy instead of soft, buttery, and delicious.
The peppermint flavor is not overwhelming but if you're worried about it being too much for younger kids, simply use additional vanilla extract in it's place. Although, they are candy cane cookies so you kind of expect and want that yummy peppermint flavor!
Happy Baking friends 🙂
Yields 18-24 cookies
Keep in mind that the dough has to be refrigerated for 1 hour before cookies can be baked. This makes the dough easier to roll and shape into the candy cane.
I always bake with salted butter. If you use unsalted butter you will need 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt *
- 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- Prepare two cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper, silpat liner, or spray with cooking spray.
- In a mixing bowl add butter and powdered sugar. Blend together, with a hand-held blender, until it is creamy and soft and looks like frosting.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Blend together.
- In a separate smaller bowl, combine flour and salt, stir with a whisk to break up any clumps.
- Add the flour, one cup at a time into the cookie dough, blending after each addition. You may have to use a wooden spoon to mix the last cup of flour into the dough. The dough will be thick.
- Form the dough into a ball and then divide in half. Place half the dough into a bowl and add red food coloring. Mix until the red color is dispersed evenly.
- Form the red and white dough into a thick, flat disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove both pieces of dough from the fridge and unwrap. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough (roughly 2-3 tablespoons) and roll each into a thick rope about 6-8 inches long. Pinch the two ropes together at the top and gently twist them together. Transfer the twisted ropes to the baking sheet and gently "hook" the top to create a candy cane shape.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then immediately transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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