A yearly Christmas tradition, I have been making these cookies for about 30 years. I first got the idea from a Canadian Living cookbook, but as usual, made several changes to make them my own. I usually make 3 batches at once, and combine them to make the cookies. It is a very rich recipe - they melt in your mouth. These cookies make a great impression on kids in the classroom, or are good to give as Christmas gifts.
Preheat oven to 350 F
What you need ( for 1 batch):
1/2 cup (a square) of softened margarine or butter; 1/2 cup shortening; 1 cup white sugar; 1 egg; 1/2 tsp salt; 1 tsp peppermint extract;1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp baking soda; 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra to add as needed for consistancy; red and green food colour.
What you do: beat together the margarine and the shortening. Beat in sugar. Add the egg, salt, and mint extract. Stir well. In another bowl mix the 2 cups flour with baking powder and soda. Stir well. Add to sugar mixture in small amounts, stirring until just mixed. Turn out onto a floured board and knead a few times. Divide into 3 equal portions. (If you make 3 batches, you can simplify this by making each batch a different colour). Leave one portion white. Add food colour to one portion to make it red, and to another portion to make it green. Add extra flour if the dough gets too sticky. (It depends on the type of colour you use as to if you will need extra flour or not, I find the gel type of food colour, sold at craft or cake decorating stores works the best, and their red is a true red, not pinkish).
Cut each portion of dough into 36 - 48 pieces, depending how large you want the cookies to be. Roll each section of dough into a small snake - just like playdough - and then twist one piece of each colour together, and place on a cookie sheet in a cane shape. (This dough is very soft and easy to shape). Place with lots of space in between, as they spread out a lot! I usually get 8 cookies on a regular cookie sheet.
Bake each cookie sheet about 10 - 12 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown along the edges. Carefully remove to a rack to cool. (They break easily). Store in airtight tins or containers. (In my house they have to be hidden, or they don't last the afternoon. As soon as the kids would smell mint they would go hunting.)