I started making Christmas cookie canes when my children were little. They were my alternative to pure sugar candy canes; we even hung them on the tree. There’s just one cup of icing sugar in 48 cookies! My kids loved them and they continue to be a favourite with my grandchildren.
They are undoubtedly fiddly to make, but well worth the effort. And when the children are a little older, they can help make them. They actually enjoy rolling the little pieces of dough into snakes, though they may need help twining them.
By the way, I make the dough in my Cuisinart food processor. When I add food colouring to half the dough, I use the Cuisinart to blend the colour into the dough. It makes the whole job soooo much easier and faster. The time-consuming bit is dividing the red dough and the plain dough each into 48 small lumps. Note: start by dividing each colour ball into quarters and divide each quarter into 12 small balls and roll these before starting on the next quarter. Working on one at a time prevents the remaining dough from drying out while you roll.
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- red food colouring (use the paste kind, available at cake decorating stores, to get a really intense red colour)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Mix the butter, shortening and sugar very well. Add the egg and flavouring and blend well. Finally, blend in flour and salt. Divide the dough in half and colour half with the red colour.
Divide each colour into four equal balls. Each ball should produce 12 teaspoon-sized pieces of dough.
Roll one red and one plain piece into snakes, then entwine the snakes to form a cookie cane with a curve. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet to bake for 9 minutes. DO NOT brown. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!