- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (OR peppermint extract, if you prefer)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring (or less if you have a more concentrated food coloring (I used 1 teaspoon gel))
For Sprinkling (optional):
- 1/2 cup (each) regular sugar and red decorating sugar (OR crushed peppermint candies) (combined in a shallow dish)
Make cookie dough:
- Cream wet ingredients: Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and cream until the egg is fully combined – do not mix any longer than necessary, or your cookies may turn out tough. It will look scraggly, but that's fine.
- Add dry ingredients: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, then gradually add to the butter mixture and mix on low until combined.
- Color cookie dough: Tip out half of the cookie dough mix on your work surface and knead a few times until smooth. Set aside. Add the red food coloring to the remaining half of cookie dough in your mixing bowl and mix with your hand mixer on low speed until fully incorporated. Add more coloring as needed (I used about one teaspoon gel).
- Divide each color cookie dough into about 8 pieces and roll, one at a time, into long ropes on a lightly floured surface (do not use too much flour or your candy canes will end up looking unappealing; keep remaining dough under a clean tea towel to keep it from drying out). Cut the logs into 4-5 inch pieces.
- For each cookie set a red and a white rope of dough next to each other, then twist together.
- Place on lined baking sheets (set cookies 2 inches apart) and curve one end to form the handle of the candy cane.
- Chill the shaped cookies for 30 minutes. Proceed in the same manner until all candy canes are shaped.
- Heat oven to 375°F. Once hot, bake chilled cookies (one tray at a time!) for 8-10 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the sugar or peppermint candy mixture (see notes). Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.