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Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Once your family tastes them, you might get requests for these cookies next year, too.

Every holiday season the baking bug is strong at my house, and a lot of wonderful recipes come out that we’ve enjoyed time and again. Each year shortbread cookies always seem to make the list and it has become something of a tradition in my family. And, if you thought regular shortbread was something special then you might consider baking these peppermint shortbread cookies. They bring an added holiday twist to a truly classic cookie.

Shortbread was created in the Middle Ages in Scotland and was once made primarily with ground oats. Since then shortbread has evolved into a crisp and delightful cookie that is particularly associated with Christmas for many folks. The addition of peppermint in this recipe brings it to a whole new level and really adds a holiday flair to these delectable cookies.

Not only are these treats just the right level of mint, they also remind me of baking with my own mother at Christmas, which was one of the few times she would buy green and red sprinkles! The latter, of course, usually ended up looking somewhat pink once baked, but now it’s part of wonderful memories.

The pink color for these cookies comes from the crushed candy canes in this recipe and can be enhanced with some red food coloring if you like. It all just depends on what you’d prefer.

Once the candy canes are added in and the mixture is thoroughly combined, the dough is rolled into a log and refrigerated. As with all shortbreads, be sure not to overwork the dough.

The cookie log is then cut into 1/4 inch slices and baked. These cookies can spread quite a bit in the oven, so it’s best to leave ample room between cookies on the baking sheet.

These minty cookies are just the right level sweetness and don’t contain chocolate, an ingredient that can sometimes can be offered with wild abandon this time of year. These cookies satisfy the sweet tooth without going overboard.

If you do bake them this holiday season, be prepared for your family to ask for them year after year- they’re that good!

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Yields 30 cookies; 20 minutes active, 1 hour inactive

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup crushed candy canes
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Red food coloring, as needed (optional)
Preparation
  1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer.
  4. Add peppermint extract and food coloring, and mix until combined.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring to combine. Add candy cane crumbs and stir.
  6. If needed, use your hands to knead dough until it comes together. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap onto a countertop or work surface. Place dough on top of plastic wrap and form into a log about 2.5 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Unwrap dough and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange slices 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on edges, 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool on sheet 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!