Practically everyone has lived through one of those crazy roommate situations — the kind that provides fodder for endless cocktail stories. These stories that are amusing in retrospect, but never fun when they are actually happening. (One of mine actually involved a missing python snake in our apartment.)

But every now and then, something decent comes from all the insanity. One of my favorite memories from an otherwise mismatched roommate situation is learning how to make candy cane cookies.

Though I have always loved to bake, my family wasn’t really into it — and the holidays were no exception. Holiday cookies were pretty much nonexistent in my home, and it wasn’t until I moved out that I discovered that holiday cookies were a thing.
So these cookies weren’t even on my radar until that fateful roommate pairing. We were still in our “honeymoon” period when he suggested we make candy cane cookies.

I had no idea what he meant and thought they must be cookies made with crushed candy canes. But my roommate showed me the magic of rolling red and white cookie dough into ropes, twisting them together, and then shaping them into canes.

I was enchanted and have never looked back.

Eventually our roommate situation grew toxic, and I moved out. I have no regrets about living with him, though. The rent was cheap, the apartment was spacious, and I have the forever gift of these candy cane cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 3/4 cup (385 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring

To finish:

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoon sparkling sugar

1 Make the dough: Place the butter, sugar, peppermint, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat until a paste forms and clings to the side of the bowl.

Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the egg until it is absorbed. Add the flour and beat until just combined and no more dry streaks of flour remain.

2 Color half the dough: Divide and remove half the dough from the bowl. Carefully add the red food coloring to the remaining dough. Mix on low until the color is evenly distributed.

3 Chill the dough: Pat each piece of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

4 When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.

5 Shape the cookies: The chilled dough should be firm, but still easy to shape straight from the fridge. If not, let it warm for just a few minutes until malleable. Don’t let it warm too much or it will be too soft to work with again.

Pinch off a 1-inch round piece of the white dough and roll it out to a 5-inch rope. Do the same with a piece of the red dough (make sure the ropes are the same length).

Place the ropes next to each other and twist together. Transfer to the baking sheet and curve the top of the dough into a candy cane shape.

Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.

6 Top the cookies with sparkling sugar: Make the egg white wash by beating the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water until foamy. Brush the top of each cookie with the egg white wash and then sprinkle with the sugar.

7 Bake the cookies: Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

These cookies will keep for a week or two in a sealed container at room temperature.

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