There’s a reason why I haven’t made these cookies since 2005. They’re finnicky, delicate, complicated and impossible to make without burning your fingertips. But they are so beautiful (and actually taste good to boot) that I couldn’t help myself and had to make them again. The recipe, of course, comes from Martha. I’m not gonna paste it here because you can print off a nice copy from her site, and what you really need to know is how to assemble these lovelies.
(And I will say I’m glad I did make these, even if they did consume hours of my day off and result in a 2-inch-long baking pan burn. Because they won the “too pretty to eat” prize at my office cookie contest. $10 gift card, baby!)
Before you start baking, make sure you have either a pastry bag with a fine tip or a plastic squeeze bottle like this one to make your stripes.
I prefer the bottle because it has fewer parts and only costs about $1.
You can also invest in gel paste food coloring, which can be found at craft or specialty baking stores, but I got away with using half a bottle of regular food coloring. I know it thins the batter out a bit, but it’s thin to begin with, so it doesn’t really matter.
I would highly recommend that you have not one but two silicone baking sheets to use for this recipe. I only had one, and I discovered that parchment paper was just not the same as a Silpat when trying to make an ultra-thin cookie. You can only roll, at max, two cookies at a time before they get too hard and start to crack, so it’s nice to have one pan of two cookies in the oven and one pan of two getting started at all times. Since the batter actually performs a little better when it’s warm, you don’t have to worry so much about cooling off the pan to use it again. Just take a minute off the baking time.
I also tried using egg whites out of a carton instead of separating the whites from regular eggs.
I figured the last thing I needed after baking tons of cookies would be hollandaise from the leftover yolks. Although the container said not to use them for meringues, they seemed to work fine for this purpose.
And one last word of warning, you may need to strain the batter that you use for the stripes before you put it into your bottle or pastry bag. I don’t know if it was from the egg whites or another ingredient, but my bottle kept getting clogged with bits of something, resulting in explosive squirts when I finally got it to come out. Not so pretty.
So here’s what you do. Mix up the batter, which is easy peasy.
Transfer a cup of it to a separate bowl and add your food coloring (and strain if you need to). Pour into the bottle/bag.
Next, make yourself a little template (or maybe two, because they tend to get messy). It’s basically a piece of something with a 3×6 rectangle cut out of it. You smear the batter into this rectangle (with an offset spatula), then pipe on the red diagonal stripes to get the candy cane pattern.
You’ll also need something to roll the cookies around. I like using an unsharpened pencil. A chopstick is good, but is usually thinner on one side than the other, which can result in an uneven cookie.
As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, you need to start rolling them. One problem – they are screaming hot at this point. But you have no choice. You have to roll, and you can’t really roll while wearing gloves. First loosen and flip the cookie to the other side. Then VERY CAREFULLY wrap the cookie around the pencil and press it to seal. It will probably take a few cookies to get this process down, but that’s OK. More for you to eat.
I only ended up with about 20 cookies good enough to photograph before I ran out of steam, but I was still really happy with them. If you’re going to tackle this recipe, I’d definitely set aside a lot of time, and be prepared to smear your entire kitchen with multicolored batters. But if you can schedule it right before a cookie contest, you never know. You just might win.