Just in case you have not finished your holiday baking, or if you are like me, you get obsessed and you say, okay, just one more, I promise, just one more batch of cookies. So…..for us crazy last-minute bakers out there, here is another gem from Nana’s recipe collection.
My heart leapt with joy when I saw this one buried in one of her plastic recipe boxes, tucked inside some recipe notecards. She had cut it from a magazine, the bottom of the page ended in the middle of the “Success Tips” paragraph and yellowed tape obscured some words, which to me meant this recipe was well loved. All the more reason to bake a batch.
Nature food coloring
The original recipe called for red food coloring, but I decided to use a natural food dye. I bought a nice red sugar beet, washed, cut, and boiled it until soft. The resulting water was bright red and perfect to color the dough. I used the cooked beet for a loaf of Chocolate Beet Cake. After all ’tis the season for everything sweet, right?
Back in the day, we used shortening instead of butter for baking pie crusts, cookies, etc. Even though butter is a healthier choice, we somehow survived. When it comes to baking, we need a form of fat that is solid at room temperature, whether it be lard, butter, or shortening. The problem with vegetable shortening is that is must be hydrogenated to be solid at room temperature, and we know hydrogenated oils are not good for us. Still, I still remember Nana’s flakey pie crusts and helping her measure out tablespoons full of Crisco. I think we remained healthy because in those days, we ate whole foods and little processed food, or as the joke goes, what our grandmothers called “Food.”
For a more deep dive into the world of Crisco and this cooking fat, check out this interesting Spruce Eats article.
I hope you enjoy making these Candy Cane Cookies!
Candy Cane Cookies
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 egg
- 1½ tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 medium sugar beet for natural food coloring
- ¼ cup candy cane, crushed, for garnish
- ¼ cup sugar for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375° F
To prepare the natural food coloring
- Wash the beet and cut into large chunks. Place in 1 cup boiling water and cook covered for 10 – 15 minutes until just tender. Drain the cooking water and save. This is your bright red food coloring. Save the cooked beet for another use.
- Add crushed candy cane and granulated sugar together for garnish.
- Cream together powdered sugar and butter using a hand or stand mixer. Mix in egg until uniform.
- Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients: flour and salt. Mix until a smooth dough is formed.
- Divide the dough in half. Using the natural beet food coloring, color half the dough to a light pink.
- Roll 1 tsp. of each color dough into a strip about 4-inches long. Place the strips side by side and twist to make a rope. Place on a parchment-lined (or greased) cookie sheet and curl the end to make a candy cane shape. Tip: As you roll each cookie, keep the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic so it does not dry out.
- Bake for 9 minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with the crushed candy cane and sugar mixture while still warm.