Heat oven to 375°F.
Combine flour, butter, cornstarch, powdered sugar and vanilla in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture forms a dough.
Divide dough into fourths. Divide each fourth into fourths, to form 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 canes.
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 20-30 minutes before mixing cookie dough. Or, cut butter into chunks or pieces for easier mixing. 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.