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Legends & cookies of Christmas 1: Candy cane cookies

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This is the first in a series of articles regarding some of the Legends of Christmas, each of which will be accompanied with a Christmas cookie recipe. Share these legends with your family as you make your cookies for special family times.

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First, we will examine the legend of the candy cane. Over the years, the candy cane has become one of the most visible items in Christmas decorations. Besides that, candy canes are quite tasty.

Legend has it that this previously straight candy was given its distinctive J-shape by a German choirmaster who was prone to giving children who were loud and noisy during church service a long, white, sugar candy stick. Giving chocolates and candies at church was considered a sacrilege, thus he bent the sticks at one end to give them the appearance of a shepherd’s staff, attaching a religious connotation to them. (In Christianity, Jesus is considered the Good Shepherd, thereby giving the staff the status of a religious symbol.)

In 1847, the candy cane became popular when a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio decided to string them on his Christmas tree as decorations. The idea soon became fashionable. By 1900, red stripes were added to the canes, as well as cinnamon and peppermint flavoring. Soon thereafter, candy canes became a much sought-after Christmas decoration since the “hook” in the candy made it easier to hang them on the Yule trees and its unique shape made it very eye-catching.

Now, for the recipe for Candy cane cookies.

Ingredients:

½ cup butter or margarine (softened)

½ cup shortening

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 egg

1 ½ tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 ½ cups flour

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. red food coloring

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, egg, and flavorings. Blend in flour and salt.
  3. Divide dough in half. Blend food coloring into one half. Shape 1 tsp. of dough from each half into 4-inch rope. For smooth, even ropes, roll back and forth on lightly floured board.
  4. Place ropes side by side. Press together lightly and twist. Make cookies one at a time, and place on ungreased baking sheet. Curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
  5. Bake about 10 minutes, or until very light brown.

Other suggestions and comments:

To make your cookies “sparkle,” you may want to mix ½ cup crushed peppermint candy and ½ cup granulated sugar. Sprinkle cookies with candy mixture immediately after removing them from oven, while still warm.

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