Monday, January 19, 2015

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Okay, I get it: by this time in January, it feels like the holidays were months ago.  We took the tree down late - last Monday on our snow day - and I miss it.  It feels like the dead of winter (oh wait, it is) without the glitter and glam of the holidays.  And so, here I am, presenting you with a peppermint bark cookie recipe!  Who says peppermint season ends January 1?

This was my entry for our second annual cookie swap, held here at my house for a small but wonderful group. I love cookie swaps: so much fun, so much beauty, and such great cookies.  I always spend a lot of time picking out my cookie swap recipe; I want it to be tasty of course, but I want it to be beautiful.  Wow factor is something that a winning cookie needs.  Plus we have prizes for best and worst tasting, and prettiest and ugliest cookie, and those prizes were fabulous (okay they were combinations of weird gifts from students and strange cooking utensils found at the Dollar Store).

Then I stumbled upon these peppermint bark cookies.  As someone who isn't much of a sweets eater, even I can appreciate peppermint bark.  Kenzie makes the best: white chocolate with Rice Krispies in it to lighten it up and give it more of a crunch, topped with crushed candy canes.  Mmmm.  And these are peppermint bark cookies, so they're really the best of both worlds.

The cookies are dark chocolate with peppermint extract.  The bottoms are lightly dipped in a very thin layer of bittersweet chocolate, with the tops dipped in white chocolate and topped with peppermint candy.  The result of the two differently-dipped layers makes them truly melt in your mouth, and they have such great textures: crunchy, creamy, soft, hard... they are pretty awesome.

The end result?  I won prettiest cookie!  Wahoo!  The elusive tastiest cookie prize was, alas, not mine for the second year in a row.  But even I have to admit that it was amazing to have Rachael be the winner of that award.  Rachael: the girl who never ventures into the kitchen and claims to hate cooking, and yet she won best tasting cookie and said she didn't even hate making them!  Here's to new beginnings?   And peppermint bark cookies! :)


peppermint bark cookies
from Annie's Eats
yields about 3 dozen cookies

for the cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch of salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
to finish:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
crushed candy canes or peppermint candies


1) To make the cookies, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 - 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg, peppermint extract, and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated and no streaks remain.  Form dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 1 - 2 hours.

2) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut out 3-inch rounds with a cookie cutter and place cut outs on prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3) Line baking sheets with wax or parchment paper.  Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a few inches of simmering water.  heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  One at a time, dip the bottom side of each cookie into the chocolate.  Use an offset spatula to scrape off the excess, leaving only a very thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie.  Place on the prepared baking sheets.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until the chocolate has set, about 15 minutes.

4) Repeat the melting process with the white chocolate in the double boiler set up.  Use an offset spatula to spread a layer of white chocolate on top of each cookie and sprinkle immediately with crushed candy cane pieces before the chocolate sets.  Transfer to the refrigerator again to chill just until set, about 15 minutes more.  Store in an airtight container.

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