They look as though they involve feats of amazing engineering, but they are so simple.
(adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
red paste food coloring
Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Heat the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 3 minutes). Transfer bowl to mixer. Whisk on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form. Whisk in extracts.
Using a food safe paintbrush, paint 3 stripes of red food coloring up the inside of a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch plain round tip.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the pastry bag. I used a long-handled teaspoon to get the mixture down to the pastry tip without messing with the stripes. Pipe onto parchment lined sheets in candy cane shapes.
Bake until cookies are crisp but not brown. They should easily lift off of the parchment. This takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. My second batch took longer, but the mixture was also not as stiff as the first, so be sure to beat them to the stiff peak stage. Cool on pan.
Now I'm ready to start packing teacher's gifts.