Our holiday cookie onslaught continues with a recipe excerpted with permission of the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.
- 5 1/2 tablespoons (2 5/8 ounces) butter
- 1/3 cup (2 1/8 ounces) vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red paste food coloring or
- 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring
- Sugar, for sprinkling
In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening together with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, milk, and extracts until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in the remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
Remove one fourth of the dough; color it red with food coloring. Divide the remaining dough in half; color one portion pink and leave the last portion plain. If the dough is too soft to handle easily, chill it for 30 to 60 minutes before continuing to shape it.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Divide each dough portion into six pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch long rope. (The red rope will be smaller in diameter.) Lay the ropes side by side on a lightly floured surface, alternating colors. Roll the ropes with a rolling pin into a single 14 x 9-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, pastry cutter, or long sharp knife, cut the rectangle diagonally into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cut the strips into pieces 5 to 7 inches long. Press the ends of the shorter strips together to make a strip of the desired length. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Curve one end of each piece to form a candy cane, then sprinkle each candy cane with sugar.
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until edges arc firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer to racks to cool.