Monday, March 25, 2013

Candy Cane Cookies

Christmas Cookies 2012*
"MERRY...

No one's hangin' stockin's up,
No one's bakin' pie,
No one's lookin' up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one's talkin' brotherhood,
No one's givin' gifts,
An no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth." (1)



I guess one could add, "No one's buyin' candy canes / On March the twenty fifth."   However, this recipe came from Alex and Dan via Dan's late Grandmother who lived in Minnesota, and I did not want to post it until I had Dan's express permission. Just recently, he e-mailed the recipe. Unlike the once fresh Christmas tree, the recipe can be saved for next year.

The first Christmas Dan spent at our house, he arrived with a tin full of Christmas cookies his Grandmother had sent him.  I well remember the Candy Cane Cookies.  Last Christmas Alex and Dan decided they would try to make some.  Instead of red food coloring, as called for in the recipe, they made their own red coloring with beets.  They could not find naturally colored candy canes in our local market, but I later noticed some red and green candy canes in Whole Foods Market that were colored only with vegetable dyes. Next time....

This recicpe is adapted from Joy of Baking.com which includes a video.  Minutes 11:23 to 16:00 of this video, which demonstrate how to roll and form the cookie are particularly useful.  This recipe makes about 30 cookies.

MAKE THE COLORING

Alex and Dan washed and cut into 6 -  8 pieces

1 red beet

They then boiled it in water until the beet was soft, pureed it in a food processor and strained the juice.

Other techniques I have since found include (1 ) Puree a raw red beet in a food processor. Strain  the resulting pulp through cheese cloth, then use the strained liquid for coloring and the remaining beet for other uses. (2) Placing three washed large red beets, cut into bite size-chunks, in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until beets are tender and only a couple of tablespoons of water remain. Reserve the water to use as food coloring and save the beets for salad.

CRUSH THE CANDY CANE(S)

Between 2 sheets of waxed paper, parchment paper, or clear plastic wrap on a cutting board, place

1  -2 candy canes

Using a metal or wooden meat mallet/tenderiser, break the candy canes into small pieces.



MAKE THE COOKIES


In the bowl of your electric mixer (hand mixer, food processor) beat until creamy:

      1 c (227g/16 oz) unsalted butter,  at room temperature
      1 c (120g/4.2 oz) confectioners sugar

Add and beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed: 

      2 large egg yolks
      1 t pure vanilla extract
      1/2 t pure almond extract

Add gradually, slowing down mixer as needed to keep flour from flying out of the bowl, and beat into a smooth dough:

       2 1/2 c (325 g/11.46 oz) all-purpose flour
       1/4 t salt

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into two equal parts, using scales if available. Return half of the dough to the mixing bowl and add, beating on low speed until well blended:

       Beet juice

Cookies will be pink not red and color will fade a bit with cooking, so color accordingly.

If dough is too soft it will crumble when making the cookies. If kitchen is warm, dough will probably need to be refrigerated for ~30 minutes to firm.  Remove dough from refrigerator and make several walnut sized (10 g/.35 oz) pieces of red dough and the same number of walnut sized pieces of white dough. Return remaining dough to the refrigerator. Separately, roll each color on a lightly floured surface, into a 4-5 inch (10-12.5 cm) long rope. Place the two ropes side by side, gently press together, and, holding ropes by the top and bottom, twist to form a spiral. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.  Shape each cookie into a cane shape by bending one end into a hook shape and smooth the edges to soften the line between red and white.Remove remaining dough from the refrigerator and repeat this process until baking sheet is full.  While preheating the oven to 375 degrees F, place the baking sheet and cookies in the refrigerator. Bake cookies about 8 - 10 minutes or until set and edges of cookies are just beginning to brown.

Do not over bake. While cookies are baking, start a second sheet of candy canes. Remove cookies from oven and while still warm sprinkle/roll in:

        Crushed candy cane

Cover and store in an airtight container for about a week. These cookies can be frozen.

1 Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends, page 164

*Christmas Cookies 2012
In jar:
Awesome Oatmeal Cookies
On tray from upper left hand corner, clockwise:
Chris's Brownies
Molasses Cookies/Ginger Snaps
Nut Puffs
Mexican Chocolate Meringues
Candy Cane Cookies

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