We are currently in the middle of our Christmas cookie baking. When our son, Calvin, was a toddler, he ate dough while I mixed up batch after batch. Then he progressed to helping to shape the cookies before they were baked. Now that he is twelve he is in on it all, measuring, cracking eggs, shaping cookies and even coming up with new ideas for recipes (I’ll explore that more in a future post). I love that we spend time in the evenings and on weekends making cookies that will be presents for friends and family.
And I can’t forget my husband, Rich, who is in on it all. Most importantly, he does the dishes. Never underestimate the value of a spouse who offers to wash the dishes.
We usually make about 12 different kinds of cookies and give them away for Christmas presents to friends and family. And we always know what we are going to take as our contribution to holiday potlucks and parties. We have our old standbys, but we usually try to include a new recipe or two. Some are spectacular failures, and we eat those ourselves or bring them out only for close family. We have never made anything truly inedible, so far.
The following recipe was one of the unqualified successes. We saw Alton Brown make these on Good Eats and immediately got the recipe off the Food Network website. I have simplified the directions and changed the shaping just a bit to make smaller cookies. You might have to make a trip to the store to get starlight mints and mint extract, but it is worth the time. Be sure and post if you make these, and let me know how they turned out for you.
These are showstoppers and are sure to impress everyone who sees them. And just wait until they taste them. The recipe looks long, but these are not hard to put together if you follow the directions.
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
½ cup crushed peppermint candies, 20-25 starlight mints (crush in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, or in a food processor)
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar in mixer until light in color. Add whole egg and milk and beat to combine. On slow speed, gradually add flour and beat until dough pulls away from the bowl.
Divide dough in half. Set one half aside and leave one half in the mixing bowl.
Add egg yolk, peppermint extract and candy to the dough in the mixing bowl and mix well. When dough is thoroughly mixed, shape into a thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5-15 minutes.
Place other half of dough in mixing bowl and add melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly blended. Shape into a thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 5-15 minutes.
Divide peppermint and chocolate doughs in half. Place each piece of dough on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment. Use powdered sugar or flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Shape each section of dough into a rectangle, and roll until about ¼ inch thick. Place chocolate dough on top of peppermint, and press together around the edges. (The chocolate dough may be crumbly.) Using waxed paper or flexible cutting board underneath, roll dough into a log. Repeat for other two sections. If dough gets too difficult to work with at any point, return to refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. Wrap each log in waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. This is pretty essential, as the candy bits will stick to the pan and make the cookies hard to get off in one piece. If you absolutely don’t want to use, or don’t have parchment paper, heavily grease the baking sheets.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake 12-13 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove, cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes then move to wire rack to cool completely.