Here we are; the final day of The 12 Days of Cookies. And a Merry Christmas to you too! I saved this one for last because they are the essence of Christmas. Literally. They’re peppermint. If Christmas doesn’t smell like peppermint, then I don’t know what does. Today the final cookie to cap off my series of “one dough, many cookies” are Peppermint Crisps. Or Peppermint Candy Canes. Really depends on what you want to do and how much time you want to spend doing it.
I have memories from when I was very small of making peppermint candy cane cookies with my grandma. We’d divide the cookie dough in half and mix red food coloring into one piece. Except it never really turned red; it was more of a pink. We didn’t have those awesome gel colors back in those days, just the little fat elf like bottles of McCormick red food coloring that were too watery and not nearly vibrant enough. So pink candy canes it was.
Now I’ll be completely honest here. This isn’t the greatest dough to form into candy canes. It’s a little too soft and rich; during baking the canes tend to spread a bit too much. BUT you can make it work if you take a few extra steps. First, roll out very thin ropes of cold dough and make them smaller than you think. They spread. A lot. Second, once twisted freeze the canes on a sheet pan until solid. Third, bake frozen. That extra time while very very cold keeps the candy canes from spreading too much during baking, allowing them to hold the shape a bit better. It’s a bit of a pain but it works. Or I have a better idea for you.
While I had my heart set on candy canes, after several failed attempts and one success, I came to the realization that this isn’t the best dough for that cookie. And that’s ok. What worked much better was to make marbled slice-and-bake logs that, once sliced, baked up into nice, pretty red and white crisp cookies. It’s a much better way to use this dough. If you don’t like peppermint flavor let me tell you that these are rather delicate with just enough mint flavor to come through but not overpower and dominate.
This is important because let me make one thing perfectly clear: peppermint has an unfortunate habit of taking over everything. If you are going to include these peppermint cookies in a larger cookie assortment, pack them separately or separate them in some way with a layer of plastic wrap or parchment or everything will taste like mint. It drives me crazy. I went to a very fancy pants cookie exchange last week and three ladies made peppermint cookies of some sort. By the time I opened my cookie box a few days later, every damn cookie tasted like peppermint. UGH.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SANTA WOULD APPROVE. This is the cookie you put out for Santa on Christmas Eve. I do realize that would have been last night so make a note for next year. They are festive – both in taste and flavor – and add a bright punch of color to that holiday cookie platter and go extremely well with a cup of hot cocoa. Just go easy on the extract and use a pure, rather than artificial, flavor. If you want to make candy canes, heed my tips above and go for it. They look fantastic.
12 Days of Cookies: One Dough, Many Cookies
Cookie Prep – Basic Butter Cookie Dough
Day 1 – Jam Thumbprints
Day 2 – Mexican Chocolate Crinkles
Day 3 – Butter Rum Bars
Day 4 – Cranberry Pistachio Coins
Day 5 – Candied Ginger Spice Buttons
Day 6 – Russian Teacakes
Day 7 – Apricot Rosemary Shortbread
Day 8 – Chocolate Hazelnut Buttons
Day 9 – Dark Chocolate Mocha Sandwich Cookies
Day 10 – Coconut Lime Sticks
Day 11 – Pecan Triangles
2015 12 Days of Cookies: Pretzel Caramel Shortbread, Fig Mezzaluna, Dutch Windmills, Bourbon Peach Rugelah, Chai Spiced Meringue Kisses, Almond Joy Bars, Swedish Kringla, Chile Lime Macaroons, Orange Cranberry Cornmeal Shortbread, Eggnog Buttons, Ginger Palmiers, Rainbow Cookies,
seven years ago: Pumpkin Bundt Cake, Gingerbread with the Kids
six years ago: Bacon Cheddar Gougeres
five years ago: Cookbook Gift List, Homemade for the Holidays
four years ago: Lemon Slice Cookies, Gingerbread with Bourbon Sauce
three years ago: Peppermint Cookie Platter, Pumpkin Roulade, Scratch Rum Cake
two years ago: Cider Apple Pie
last year: Caldo Verde (Portugese Kale & Potato Soup)
Makes about 6 dozen cookies; recipe can be easily halved or doubled
If you’d like to make candy canes, take note of the tips in the post above
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the room temperature cookie dough, sugar, baking soda, water and peppermint extract until well combined.
- Divide the dough in half, return one half to the mixer with a few drops of red paste food coloring and mix until well combined.
- Divide each of the red and white doughs in quarters and roll each piece on a piece of plastic wrap into a nice round log, around 5 ½” long.
- Take one red and one white log and twist them together, then gently knead to combine. Reroll into a 5 ½” log, pushing in the sides as needed. The more you knead the more marbled the log will be but don’t take it too far as you want the red and white to stay distinct.
- Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight (or freeze up to 3 months).
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2-3 sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- With a sharp thin knife, cut the log into ¼” thick coins, rotating the log frequently to keep one side from flattening. If the dough is frozen, give it a few minutes to soften just a little.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom edges and the tips of the cookies are just barely starting to turn golden.
- Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling completely.
- Do ahead: it’s best to make and freeze the dough logs and bake as needed rather than freeze baked cookies. Frozen dough will keep up to 3 months.