I’m a baker. I grew up with a mom who was always baking and I learned to bake from her. Looking back, I can see how baking was a form of love for her and maybe that’s why I still love to bake. I want to show my love for others by baking. That, and homemade baked goods are a thousand times better than store bought ones.
I have lots of baking memories but many of them are related to Christmas. My mom was known for her perfect buckeyes but it was my dad who known for his candy cane cookies. He was the perfectionist who rolled them so evenly and perfectly. We tried to help but ours never turned out quite as good in spite of his patient teaching every year. I mastered the perfect dip on buckeyes long before I mastered the perfect roll of candy canes. Once I did, it became a baking tradition I wanted to carry on.
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Candy cane cookies really aren’t hard to make. The dough is simple to mix and has a delicious flavor. This dough uses almond extract to flavor it which isn’t what you might expect from what is normally a peppermint flavored treat. Still, it’s absolutely perfect this way and I can’t imagine changing it! The dough handles nicely and once you learn how to roll the cookies, it’s fun to make candy cane cookies at Christmas.
This year, I made the cookies during nap time and then read “The Legend of the Candy Cane” to Nathan before we enjoyed a homemade candy cane cookie. Have you read this book? It’s a great one! It’s a good tradition and I look forward to teaching him how to roll candy cane cookies, just like my Dad taught us.
I used to use traditional food dye but now I only use Wilton food dye. It is a total game changer when it comes to baking. You actually get vibrant, beautiful colors when using concentrated food dye. And since the food dye is so concentrated, you only need a tiny toothpick amount to get great colors. Any time I need to dye something (with the exception of Easter eggs), I now go to my Wilton food dye.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
Red food coloring
Cream shortening, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add egg and almond extract. Add in flour. Divide the dough in half and remove one half from the bowl. Blend red food coloring into remaining half.
Roll 1 teaspoon of each color dough on lightly floured surface into a strip 4 inches long. Place strips side by side and press lightly together. Roll and twist into a longer rope, twisting in opposite directions as you roll. Here’s the steps in pictures.
Place the candy cane cookie on ungreased baking sheet, curving top down for handle of cane. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until lightly brown. Carefully remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool.
That’s how you make candy cane cookies…just like my Dad used to make. Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie with memories like these?