Hi there. Oh! You two haven’t met? This here is my favorite cookie in the entire world:

Candy Cane Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, First Edition

1/2 c Earth Balance vegan margarine, at room temperature
1/2 c shortening
1 c confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill egg substitute, mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6-8 drops red food color, optional (I didn’t use a natural food dye here, but by all means, go for it if you’d rather!)
1/2 c crushed peppermint candy

Heat oven to 375F. Place parchment paper on your cookie sheet. Mix thoroughly margarine, shortening, confectioner’s sugar, egg substitute, and flavorings. Blend in flour and salt. Blend in food color, then crushed peppermint candy.

Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, then flatten into discs. Place on the prepared cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. They don’t spread much, if at all. Bake about 9 minutes, or until set and very light brown (check the underside of one). Once the cookies have cooled on the sheet for a few minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

One of my favorite food memories is associated with this cookie. My mom made them for Christmas when I was in Kindergarten, and she packed one in my lunch. I don’t think I’d had them before because I remember falling in love with a cookie for the first time during a sunny recess in that California schoolyard. I was lost in the almondy goodness, the density that is almost like shortbread, with that hint of salt taking the edge off the sweet. I was a changed person.
Originally this cookie is supposed to be shaped like a candy cane- with only half of the dough getting the red food dye- then you twist two 4-inch ropes together, and curve them to shape them like canes. However 1) I lack the patience for this, 2) My candy canes would continue to grow larger as I made them, 3) They would always be burned on the ends or raw in the middle- and in the case of the larger ones in the end of the batch- a dreadful combo of raw AND burned. I had to adjust. Plus, spending that much time working with dough meant more opportunity for me to consume said dough. As heavenly as the dough is… it’s not meant to be.
This is one of those cookies that people seem to either really love, or they’ll simply tolerate. I always make a double batch in case I find myself surrounded by a group of people that fall into the former category. Plus, they’re a nice cookie to have on a platter at a party- they offer some contrast if you have a lot of darker cookies and fruitcake bars, like I did this year. They refuse to go unnoticed!  I also tried a new (to me) recipe from this book:

Peppernuts

1/2 c shortening
3/4 c brown sugar (packed)
1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer, mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
1/2 c molasses
1/2 tsp anise extract
1 tbsp hot water
3 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper

Heat oven to 350F. Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, egg replacer, molasses, anise extract, and water. Blend in remaining ingredients. Knead dough until of right consistency for molding.

Using a melon baller, scoop dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom. Store in airtight container.

These were so-so. I had hoped for something spicier! They were also a little dense and dry, but the recipe suggested storing them with a slice of apple for softer cookies. That’s something I should have tried, but the only apple I had was one that I wouldn’t be slicing until I made my apple cake for Christmas dinner- and that wasn’t happening for a few more days! Still, these are a nice cookie when you’re looking for one that isn’t as sweet. I will make these again, mostly because I’m curious about what they would be like with more anise extract (the original recipe calls for 3 drops of anise oil, not available in my store- I don’t know how it would compare to the extract so I used a modest amount), and I’d use more white pepper. I’d also make the cookies a bit bigger- in hopes of finding a softer center! The cookies were good, they all disappeared, and baby girl loved them. I just want them to be divine.
Also on my cookie platter this year: Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles, and Fruitcake Bars, both from this, my favorite cookie book. I also made a whopping SIX batches of these Spicy Maple Glazed Walnuts from Shutterbean to give along with my cookies to neighbors and as stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. Spicy and sweet and very well received.
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