Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tis the Season...

It's that Time of Year again. Time to Make the Candy Cane Cookies.

These cookies are my dad's favorite. His mother was an excellent baker and would make him these cookies every year. When she died (over 30 years ago), my dad remarked to my mother that he'd never get any candy cane cookies again. Even though my mom does not like making these, to her credit, not a single year has gone by that my dad hasn't enjoyed these cookies! When I was old enough, I started to help. Unfortunately, my grandmother (Mom-Mom) never shared the secret to how to roll/shape these cookies without becoming totally frustrated. The recipe is easy enough:

1 cup butter or margarine -- softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

Mix first 6 ingredients together well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Add food coloring to 1 portion. Blend well.

Roll 1 teaspoon of each color dough into ropes and 5-1/2-inches long. Lay them side by side. Pinch ends together. Twist to form a spiral. Lay on ungreased baking sheet. Shape to form canes. (This sounds pretty basic. But just try it, it's easier said than done.)
Bake in a 350-deg. F. oven for about 10 minutes until pale gold. Cool on sheet for 2 to 3 minutes then remove. Makes about 4-1/2 dozen. (This is a total lie. We are lucky if we get 2 dozen!!!!).
Over the years, we've tried lots of different tricks to get these shaped just right. My mother always tells me how perfect Mom-Mom made them. So delicate and tiny. Perfectly twisted and shaped. I can't say that about ours. I have gotten better at shaping them, and some do turn out decent, but the majority look sad and pathetic. Ours belong on the Island of Misfit Cookies!

I like to bake and I like to think I got a lot of my grandma's talent in that respect, but I do wish every year that I would have been old enough before she died for her to show me how to make these darn cookies. One year we tried to skimp and we took all the dough, put it into one big log and cut circles out. We justified this by saying that they were peppermint candy cookies. It didn't work. We returned to the candy cane making.
It is a labor of love to make these cookies, and I know my dad appreciates them. No matter what they look like, they taste delicious--they are made with love. And it's one tradition that we'll keep up every year!


Irishembi said...

My Mom used to make these too and I was JUST talking about them to a friend. I was contemplating asking my Mom to try and dig out the recipe but you have handily saved your Aunt from having to search through 30 years worth of hand written recipes scattered God knows where.

I do not like to bake and I don't seem to have inherited any baking talent whatsoever. I comfort myself that I am a good cook though. Whereas, if you ask your Dad, he will tell you that Mom Mom decidedly WASN'T, and had some VERY interesting creations. :-)

MamaJoss said...

This recipe is going in my little wooden box...under "cookies that rock!" Thanks for sharing...sweet story to go with it too :)

Anonymous said...

Hey you two!! LOLOL Colleen, your cookies look scrumptious and I have to say better than Mom Mom's.
Yes, hers were smaller and delicious too. A little secret she had was smashing a few peppermints and rolling the tubes in but my memory isn't what it used to be...maybe she sprinkled it on...and Beth, Mom Mom was an excellent cook when she had company or for a holiday...but yes, her every day cooking wasn't so special. Probably because she spent more time at meetings than home once the boys were grown :( The only cookies I learned to make and make very well were her little nut cakes or as your uncle calls them..."hunky cakes" filled with nuts or apricot, and i can't make them little either...they are monsters! Ask your dads about card club night... none of us ever missed a midnight run to Mom's for leftovers. I bet they still miss those times too..Love, A J