This is the time of year when my thoughts turn to Christmas season baking. While I do hate the rush to put out decorations in the stores…once the first good rain falls I like to heat up the house with baking projects. And to me Christmas baking means cookies. And lots of them.
Why cookies? Cookies are easy. Cookies are portable. Everyone (at least everyone I know) loves them. While I have a list of must-bakes for the holidays, I also love to try new recipes/ideas out. So when my friend, the fabulous Miss M, told me about a package of cookies she bought and could then not stop eating, I knew I had to try and bake a good clone for her. The cookies in question were Coco-Sugar cookies and they were topped with a peppermint frosting and little peppermint sprinkles. Pretty good. After getting my hands on one, the cookies was determined to be more of a chocolate drop cookie–far easier to make than a chocolate sugar cookie. I instantly knew the base of the cookie would have to be a slightly altered version of my favorite cookie from the past spring, the wonderful Chocolate Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Lime from Simply Recipes. The combo of lime and chocolate is divine, but the cookie itself had the crumb and size (and ease of baking) I wanted for the peppermint. With a few minor adjustments the cookie part was covered and ready for the peppermint pop.
The store cookies were topped with a thick buttercream-type frosting. It was pretty piled on, but it’s not my favorite when I’m making cookies. I tend to favor Royal Icing if I ice at all. For the peppermint I whipped a fairly thick Royal flavored with vanilla and mint. I dipped the cookies rather than try and use a spatula or piping bag. Right after the dunk in the Royal I dipped them in crushed peppermint candies to finish the look. I think they are a lovely, delicious winter cookie–and will make it onto my cookie platters this year.
Ready to try your hand? While I think cocoa nibs should be included in every chocolate cookie, ever, they *can* be considered optional in this one. But if you have a chance to get your hands on some, please try them in the cookies. They add crunch and depth of flavor unlike anything else.
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies–Adapted from Simply Recipes
- 1 cup of butter softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of cocoa nibs (optional)
Peppermint Royal Icing
~30 small candy canes or Starlight mint candies, crushed into small chunks
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color. Add the egg, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.
2 In a small bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix). Fold in the cocoa nibs. Chill for 5-10 minutes to help set the dough up for easy scooping.
3 Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into one inch sized balls (I use a small cookie scoop) and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. The bottoms should be slightly browned and the cookie should appear set, but not dry. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4 While cookies are cooling, make the Peppermint Royal Icing (see recipe below). When cookies are cool, dunk the top of each cookie into the thick icing. Swirl while pulling the cookie out of the icing for a smooth top and then dip in crushed peppermint candies. Place back on cooking rack and let dry, at least an hour, before plating or storing. You can, of course, just eat them right away.
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.
Peppermint Royal Icing
- 1 egg white (about 1 oz)
- 2 1/4 cups (8 oz) sifted powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1 With the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, beat the egg white until foamy and soft peaks form.
2 Set the mixer to medium-low speed and gradually add the powdered sugar. Scrape the side of the bowl between additions.
3 Add the extracts and beat on medium-high speed until the frosting is no longer shiny. It will be thick. Stir in water teaspoons at a time until the frosting is the consistancy of thick gravy. Dip cookies–any remaining frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.