Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Baking: Candy Cane Crisps

Today we woke up for early morning Mass and were delightfully surprised to find six inches of beautiful snow blanketing Erie. After all the rain, wind, and nearly 60 degree temperatures recently, it is finally starting to look a little bit like Winter. Although, according to the weather forecast, temperatures are supposed to increase during the week, melting off whatever snow we have accumulated thus far. In other words, the chances for a white Christmas are looking pretty bleak.

Speaking of "White Christmas," last night I finally had the opportunity to introduce Paul to the classic movie of the same name. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney (who looks a lot like her nephew George), the film is a delightful musical by the famed Irving Berlin that features some of the greatest song and dance numbers I have ever seen. I used to enjoy watching it with my Mom and my sisters around Christmastime each year. I finally was able to force Paul to watch it. And watch it he did. He grumbled about it the whole time and rolled his eyes every time one of the main characters would begin to break into song.

However, after pausing the film halfway through to get a snack from the kitchen, I caught him whistling to the tune of "Count Your Blessings." I asked him: "What's that you're whistling?" He glared at me and replied: "Some stupid song from that crappy movie." However, I know that secretly he quite enjoyed it.

This afternoon, Paul set out to make candy cane crisps, his favorite Christmas cookie. For my bridal shower, my Mom asked family and friends to send me some of their favorite recipes so I could start building a collection. My Mother-in-law and MaryRose, my sweet little sister-in-law, sent an email containing this recipe which I have printed off and laminated in my recipe binder.

The cookie batter is a basic butter dough, with rolled oats and ground up bits of candy cane added for chew and flavor. The dough is then shaped into balls, rolled in powdered sugar, scored, and garnished with a sprinkle of ground candy canes before being baked into a deliciously sweet, minty, chewy cookie. These are a fabulous and refreshing addition to any plate of Christmas cookies.

The most difficult part about the whole process is stripping the plastic wrapping from the candy canes. One of Paul's biggest pet peeves is being outsmarted by inanimate objects.

But soon, he is victorious over the candy canes and rewards himself by gleefully grinding them to a fine powder.

After mixing up the dough, he begins delicately crafting it into the perfect size and shape for baking. Look at the master hard at work...

And the end result is remarkably delicious and worth every bead of sweat!

Candy Cane Crisps
recipe from My Mother-in-Law

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup crushed candy canes

Beat butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. Beat in the vanilla.

Stir together the flour, oats, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with rack set in the middle.

Roll the dough into 3/4" balls. Roll each in remaining powdered sugar to coat. Place the dough balls 2-inches apart on greased and floured cookie sheets. Flatten the cookies with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern with the fork tines. Sprinkle each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon crushed candy cane.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let cool on the baking sheet 2-3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Make sure baking sheets are completely cool before baking additional batches. You can stick the dough in the fridge between batches.

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