Over the course of our cookie time together this month, I’m hoping to cover many of the quintessential flavours of the holiday. Chocolate and peppermint might even top the list for me (even over Gingerbread) as THE holiday flavour combo. Just ask Kate .. and “The President”. These cookies deliver exactly what you’d be hoping for in a chocolate peppermint cookie. They’re perfect for the holiday when you need a bit of fudge-y goodness. They pack some really serious chocolate flavour for the connoisseur with a nice hint of peppermint. The dough is prepared, cookies are rolled by hand, baked, and then topped with melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candies. Fantastic! We’ve also got some more cookie baking tips this week. Check those out after the recipe and add your own in the comments.
I found the recipe here, at Bon Appetit’s website. It’s a great recipe, but I did make a couple of minor changes that I hope will make things a little easier for you, as they did for me. If you want to follow the unadulterated version, just head over to Bon Appetit. The first change I made to the recipe was regarding the chocolate. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate chips, which I didn’t have on hand and I guessed that most people would have trouble finding. So, I substituted semi-sweet chips and reduced the amount of sugar called-for in the recipe. This also works out well because most of my friends and family would complain if I drizzled bittersweet chocolate on anything. I also added a bit more peppermint to suit my tastes.
The other change I made was in the preparation to make it easier to prepare these cookies further in advance. The original recipe says that the finished cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks but I don’t think that the chocolate drizzle would hold up all that well in the freezer. I recommend making this ahead by making the dough and freezing it, or baking the cookies and freezing them and adding the chocolate and candy topping fresh (within a few days of serving them). This is of course assuming that you’ll be sharing them and not eating them all in one sitting. I dare you to contain yourself!**
On the original site, the yield for this recipe is about 50 cookies. The way I roll them (using 1 level tablespoon) I got only about 36. They’re about the size of the ‘two bite brownies’ when they’re done. I would like to strongly advise that you double this recipe. It’s so easy to do and you’ll be happy to have more around when the first tray disappears. If you keep them around long enough to store, you should store these cookies separate from others. The peppermint flavour will spread to other cookies.
** For the record, I feel terrible that my month of cookies is overlapping Kate’s discussion about Diabetes. Let’s all eat responsibly!
Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
Adapated from Bon Appetit
For the Cookies:
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (unalkalized preferably)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 large eggs
For the Topping:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
4 candy canes or 16 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Stir 1 cup chocolate chips in a medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (double boiler) until melted and smooth.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using stand mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and both extracts; beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat well to blend. Beat in melted chocolate Add dry ingredients; stirring just to blend (this can be done by hand). Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. At this point, dough can be transferred to an airtight container, labelled and stored in the freezer for, easily 3 months (bringing to room temperature before baking). If you’re going to bake the cookies now, carry on.
Measure 1 level tablespoonful dough; roll dough between palms to form ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until cracked all over and tester inserted into centre comes out with large moist crumbs attached, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. At this point, cookies can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the freezer up to 3 weeks (bringing to room temperature before finishing and serving). If you’re finishing them right away, carry on.
For the Topping: Crush your candy canes or peppermint candies. I do this using the flat side of my meat tenderizer. If you use the point side, you’ll get holes in your baggie. You can also hit them with a hammer or a heavy rolling pin. Be careful – some softer wood rolling pins will get nicks from particularly hard candies. Aim for something that resembles glitter, or sprinkles in size. Melt the additional chocolate over small saucepan of simmering water until fairly fluid. Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over, arranging some pieces with red parts showing. Allow chocolate to set at room temperature or chill about 10 minutes.
And now, that you’re all prepared to bake holiday cookies, here are some helpful tips for when you’re actually mixing the dough. You’ve got your tools ready? Ingredients at room temperature? Excellent.
Read the Recipe. I know, I know. Everyone says this and it’s totally obvious. Yet, still, people hurry and they forget. If you read carefully, you’ll see the changes I made and see at what points in the recipe you can walk away to answer the phone or wipe a runny nose. This recipe happens to be pretty easy but not all are. You can even figure out if it makes more sense to spread the recipe out over a couple of days if you have limited time.
Measure Your Ingredients Carefully. Ideally, for most dry ingredients this would mean to measure by weight. I haven’t listed any weights here even though I use them at home. You can consult this site for conversions if you have any tricky ones. Otherwise, measure your flour by the dip-and-sweep method but stir your flour first. Stir it with a big spoon to lighten it up or fluff it, then dip your measuring cup in, then level it off with a sweep of a flat object. You can do the same for sugar. Be sure to measure all liquids in a liquid measuring cup and dry ones in dry measuring cups. Be careful with your ingredients. I once read that you can tell a great baker from a good baker by how carefully she measures and how carefully each bowl/cup are scraped to ensure that every bit of goodness makes it into the oven.
Mix Well When You Need To and Don’t When You Don’t. Most cookie recipes use the creaming method. You cream the sugar and butter and then mix in dry and wet ingredients. For these recipes, mix the dough well before you add any flour. The butter sugar mixture, when creamed, should conjure the image of light and fluffy. Light in colour for sure. Beat the eggs in very well too. You almost can’t beat them enough. Feel free to let your mixer run for a couple of minutes. But, once the flour is added, keep the mixer on low as long as possible or stir it in by hand. If you’ve read your recipe ahead, you’ll know if you have to add in extra ingredients after the flour (like the chocolate chips in this recipe). In those cases, you don’t even have to completely mix in the flour, you can get it all mixed in during the final step. There’s no harm turning off the mixer and stirring the last bit in by hand. The same goes if you’re making shortbread or a flaky cookie that requires the biscuit method. You rub the butter into the flour but then as soon as the liquid ingredients hit the flour, you mix as little as possible.
When you have a minute, visit the tips here as well.