My house smells like Christmas, full of the aromas of baking cookies and candy canes. It is cold outside and I am so grateful to have a warm, dry home. The Artist and I are watching football while I cook and bake. I had two posts to create, photograph, and finish writing. Life is good!
I have a new favorite Christmas cookie and am truly addicted to them. I even had trouble limiting my nibbling and was risking not having enough to photograph, LOL! The delicately flavored peppermint frosting highlights the rich, deep chocolate flavor of the cookies. I added crushed peppermint candies to the top for a festive look. I used the product from King Arthur Flour, but you can buy regular peppermint candies and crush/grind them yourself.
If you are making these at other times of the year you can replace the peppermint flavoring with vanilla, rum, bourbon, orange, or other flavor you like.
These lovely cookies are very much like a chocolate lace cookie, light and fragile. They shatter when you bite into them and are a perfect addition to your holiday baking list. I made mine gluten-free which may make them more delicate than those made with regular wheat flour. These cookies are best on the day they are baked, but are also good the second day, just a bit softer and chewier after they have absorbed some moisture from the frosting and the atmosphere.
Today is Secret Recipe Club day and have I got a wonderful blog to introduce you to! I was given Daily Dish Recipes created and written by the delightful Nicole Cook. When I started looking through her recipes looking for the one that I would share with all of you, I bookmarked a ton to come back and make later. Nicole is extremely talented and you are going to LOVE her blog!
Nicole and I share the desire to help people get back in the kitchen, cooking from scratch, and discovering the fun that cooking and baking can be. As a mother of five, you can imagine how creative she is in finding ways to feed her wonderful family. I was especially impressed with Nichole’s Holiday and Seasonal recipe selection. She has some truly amazing and creative recipes that will have me busy for months to come
The way you mix this cookie dough is very different from the norm. Usually you cream the butter and sugar together before adding in the dry ingredients. In these cookies the sugar is part of the dry ingredients and gets beaten in after you’ve combined all the liquid ingredients. I loved the way they turned out but will probably try creaming in the traditional way next time and see if it makes any difference in the final cookie.
I made up a frosting that is a cross between a cream cheese frosting and a buttercream frosting. I love the slight tanginess that the cream cheese adds, cutting back significantly on the sweetness. This allows the peppermint to shine and blend beautifully with the chocolate cookie. If you want a sweeter topping you can replace the cream cheese with more butter and increase the sugar to suit your tastes.
Because they are so delicate, these are not the best choice for shipping. If you do, make sure you use a lot of bubble wrap or popcorn between each layer of cookies and individually wrap them in plastic for even more strength.
I had so much fun setting up the photo shoot, pulling together some of my favorite holiday decorations to set a festive mood. It made such a beautiful vignette that I may use it as my holiday centerpiece!
I hope you enjoy today’s recipe, head over to Nicole’s blog for a fun romp through her recipes, and have a good time visiting all the other Secret Recipe Club’s postings.
Happy Chocolate Monday everyone!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If your butter was as cold as mine was (it’s been super chilly here the past week and even room temperature butter was firmer than normal), you can cut it into cubes or grate it to make it easier to beat into the dough.
Follow the recommendations in the recipe.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Peppermint Frosting
Based on Daily Dish Recipes: http://dailydishrecipes.com/simple-chocolate-sugar-cookies/
Frosting recipe © 2013 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: about 2 to 3 dozen cookies
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour or 1 cup gluten-free flour blend plus 1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking soda (gluten-free if needed)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla paste or pure extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (gluten-free if needed)
8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
4 oz (1 stick) butter, slightly softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp peppermint extract, to your taste
Crushed peppermint candies, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.
Make the Cookies: In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & sugar. Whisk until blended; set aside.
In the bowl of your standing mixer, place the butter. On low speed, beat the butter until smooth and then add the egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stop the mixer, add the cocoa powder and then beat well until there are no more white streaks.
Form balls of batter about 1 teaspoon each, roll into balls between the palms of your hands and place them on the prepared baking sheet. The cookies spread a lot so make sure you leave about 2 to 3 inches between each one. I put nine on each baking sheet. Using a flat-bottomed glass dipped in water, gently press each ball to flatten into round disks.
Bake cookies one sheet at a time. Bake until cookies have flattened out and tops are starting to firm up, about 8 to 10 minutes, spinning the sheet from front to back halfway through baking. As with all chocolate cookies, watch them carefully so they don’t burn!
Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes. If some of them have spread into each other, use a mini off-set spatula to separate them and gently round the corners again. When firmed up, move cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
Make the Frosting: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and slowly turn on the mixer. Add the peppermint extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat until smooth and creamy.
Frost the Cookies: Use an offset spatula and spread a generous amount of frosting on the top of each cookie. Quickly sprinkle the tops with the peppermint candy pieces and set cookies on a wire rack to let the frosting harden.
If you are storing these cookies in a tin or cookie jar, separate the layers with a sheet of parchment paper.
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