Heat oven to 375°F. Combine flour, butter, cornstarch, powdered sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture forms a dough.
Divide dough into fourths. Divide each fourth into fourths, for a total of 16 pieces. Shape each piece into thin 15-inch rope. Cut each piece into 4 (3-inch) lengths. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Shape into candy cane-shape.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. While cookies are still warm, dip into decorator sugar.
Buttery Pretzel Cookies: Cut rolled out dough ropes into 5-inch lengths. Shape into pretzel-shape. Bake as directed. Dip in mixture of 3/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
Tips for successful Candy Cane Cookies:
• This cookie is a shortbread-type cookie with a high proportion of butter to flour and sugar. The dough may seem slightly more crumbly. Egg is not an ingredient in this type of cookie.
• Be sure to measure all ingredients accurately using the proper measuring cups. For dry ingredients use graduated metal or plastic measuring cups. Spoon the dry ingredient lightly into a measuring cup. Do not tap or shake the cup or scoop the ingredient into the cup. Level off any excess amount by running a straight-edge or table knife across the top.
• Use measuring spoons to measure liquids in this recipe rather than tableware spoons for accuracy.
• The butter in this recipe should be softened, but not melted. For best results let butter stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before mixing the cookie dough. Or, cut the butter into chunks or pieces for easier mixing. Also, 3/4 cup butter equals 1 1/2 sticks of butter.
• If the dough is dry and crumbly after beating, add 1 to 2 tablespoons cream or soft butter, adding 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms.