I don't know where my mom got this recipe, because we've been making and eating it since I was a child. At that time, we shaped the cookies into candy canes. That's how the recipe went. As I've gotten, ahem, older, we changed them to pinwheels. The candy cane hooks were ornery and often broke off, damaging the appearance - but not the taste! - of these cookies. The pinwheels give the cookies an impressive, complicated look, but they're not at all difficult to form.
These cookies have a cakey cookie texture, and they are not as sweet as many modern cookies. Maybe that's why I like them: the mild sweetness, the texture, and definitely the almond flavoring, which is my favorite. I hope you enjoy them, too.
2 sticks vegan margarine, room temperature (I recommend Earth Balance or some other vegan margarine that has no hydrogenated oils in it.)
1 c. sifted confectioner's sugar (a.k.a. "powdered sugar")
1 egg (Vegans, feel free to try this with an egg replacer like Ener-G and let me me know how it turns out!)
2 - 2.5 t. almond extract (I go with the extra half teaspoon.)
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t. plus 1/8 t. salt
1 T. plus 1.5 t. baking powder
red food coloring, to color
granulated sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix the butter, confectioner's sugar, egg, and almond extract in a medium bowl. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture.
Divide the dough in half. In a separate bowl, blend red food coloring into half of the dough. I'd start with about 20 drops, then go from there until you have the color you want.
Now, on a lightly floured surface (Don't worry if the red dough gets white flour dust on it. It won't show up after cooking.), roll a 6-inch strip of red dough and a 6-inch strip of non-colored dough so that it looks like, well, a worm! (You can make longer strips, but keep in mind the cookies will be larger and take longer to bake. I usually make mine bigger.) Twist the red worm with the white worm so that you now have a single red-and-white twisted worm.
At this point, you decide if you want "candy canes" or "pinwheels.":
(1) If you want a candy cane, just make the cane hook at the end and move to an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.
(2) If you want pinwheels, shown above, curl the twisted worm in a spiral, and you have your pinwheel. Move to an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.
Either way, repeat with remaining dough.
Bake about 12 - 15 minutes or until risen and set. Remember that finished cookies look a little undercooked in the oven. The moment you notice the non-colored dough just starting to brown, it's time to remove them from the oven. Cool on a rack, then enjoy!
The amount this recipe makes will vary, depending on how large you make your cookies. I made large pinwheels last year, and I got probably 20 cookies.