Friday, December 16, 2011

Decorated Candy Cane Cookies

I finally get a day off from work, and what do I do? Bake! Obviously. Because I'm a glutton for punishment I've been wanting to bring some treats over to my old office and these decorated cookies seemed perfectly festive.

Instead of traditional sugar cookie dough, this is what I like to use when it comes to baking cookies for decorating. Taste is always what's most important to me when I'm baking, so it was really important for me to make cookies that not only looked pretty but also tasted great. These cookies are chocked full of buttery, brown sugary flavor, with that great balance of texture that's somewhere between a sugar cookie and shortbread.

I'm trying to get through all the holiday cookie cutters I have before it's too late, and these candy canes were the first on my list. I tried a few different designs but the stripes were my favorite. Unfortunately these pictures don't really show it, but on the red stripes I added shiny red sanding sugar.

To get the design, I outlined each cookie in white icing. I then outlined all the white stripes and filled them in with thinned white icing and let them dry overnight. The next morning I outlined the remaining empty stripes in red icing and filled those in too. Then, while the red icing was still wet, I sprinkled on the red sanding sugar and immediately tapped off the cookie to remove the excess.

Of course, if you really want to go all out, you can add a few drops of peppermint extract to the royal icing, so your cookies will not only look like candy canes, but will taste like them too!

Vanilla Cookie Dough
Yield: 20-24 large cookies

15 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5.25 oz light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar.
4. Add the egg and vanilla and increase the speed to incorporate.
5. With the mixer off, add all the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until just incorporated. Divide the dough into two discs and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.
6. Working with one disc at a time, roll dough out on a lightly floured board to about 1/4'' thick. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and space evenly on prepared baking sheets. Re-wrap any scraps and chill another 15 minutes before re-rolling again. Discard any remaining scraps.
7. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Allow to cool completely before decorating with royal icing.

Royal Icing:
3 egg whites
18 oz powdered sugar

Whisk egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk until incorporated. Outline cookies, then thin icing with water, 1/2 tsp at a time, until it is the consistency of thick syrup, before flooding.

Recipe Notes:
  • Only re-roll your dough once. Work with the dough too much and you won't have tender cookies.
  • Don't feel like decorating? Try dipping half of each cookie in melted chocolate, or just enjoy them plain!


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