One of my favourite things after a massive feast is a warm drink to cleanse the pallet and help digest — or to at least trick yourself into feeling so.
I love making a little something to go with the warm drinks at a party. Chocolate dipped spoons are an often revisited idea, but my theme this Christmas was to try things I had never done before. Cue brainstorming session.
The result was a resolve to try edible garnishes. My first thought was to try mini gingerbread houses. But a) that would be overdoing the gingerbread-ness, and b) I couldn't think of a way to do it that wouldn’t take up considerable mug space and result in either half filled cups or soggy cookies.
In the end I decided to alter one of my favourite sugar cookie recipes and fashion another Christmas icon out of them: candy canes.
This recipe usually features almond essence, but I decided to go peppermint both to mimic actual candy canes, and because after all that food you want something that feels more 'cleansing' to nibble on with your tea or coffee.
As it turned out, everyone was so full after the previous four courses that even hot drinks were a thought too difficult to stomach. So these stayed shelved.
So we had fun with them later instead, nibbling on them with the rest of the leftovers instead of having a proper dinner.
If using these as an edible garnish, be mindful when shaping these about how they will fit on a mug. I kept the bend short and sharp to ensure a snug fit and a full cup – you don't want the curve too long lest you end up with the mug half full vs. soggy cookie dilemma. This can work with any sugar cookie recipe that is designed not to rise/expand, so your favourite cut-out cookie recipe is ideal. Here’s how I did it:
Candy Cane Cookies
125g butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
½ tsp peppermint essence
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour
Red food colouring
1. Cream butter and sugar; beat in rind, essence and egg until well combined. Stir in sifted flour in two batches
2. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth. Divide dough in half; knead in red food colouring. Gel paste works well here as you will need less. Make your dough fairly dark as it will lighten upon baking.
3. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease oven trays; line with baking paper.
5. Roll two thin sausages of each colour dough; you can lie the colours side by side or wrap them around one another and similarly roll these into a sausage to join the two colours. Twist the ends on opposite directions to get the swirling effect of the colours — I find the easiest way to do this is to lie the sausage flat and, placing your hand at the ends of the sausage, roll each end in the opposite direction.
6. Cut to desired length and fashion into a "J" shape on your baking tray. If you find the dough is brittle, you may find it easier to do step 5 on the baking tray itself to avoid breakage during transfer.
7. Bake for around 10 minutes (baking time will depend on thickness) or until just starting the turn golden. If you want to maintain the colour you will want to avoid cooking these too much. Allow to cool completely before moving these to avoid breakages.