I am struggling to survive the earliest hours of the morning. It is the time when my allergy medication has worn off and breathing suddenly becomes an uphill battle. We had a glimpse of warm weather a few weeks back - just enough warmth to tease our winter-weary hearts and allow the allergens entrance. It’s the worst year I have ever had with allergies, and I am toting around my box of tissues, vile of peppermint oil, and bottle of Claritin like my life depended upon it, and frankly, I am convinced that it does.Read More
Sometimes we just need a solid sidekick cookie.Read More
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It might be a little early to start tossing around the peppermint extract, but I've got a cabinet filled with pine-scented hand soaps and the ole' Bing Crosby station playing, and I just can't help myself.
For many years, my sister and I have shared holiday baking days. We first began making assorted tins of cookies and truffles for our teachers, but as we have grown past the school years the tradition has continued. Our baking endeavors have changed from year to year, but whether we are assembling pies or rolling peanut butter balls, the laughter is bountiful, the sugar plentiful, and the rewards sweet.
Last week I invited my sister over to test a few of the holiday cookies that I plan to share with my friends and neighbors this year. I knew that I wanted to simplify our efforts a bit by making one basic dough that could be easily transformed into two entirely different cookies. I love creating assorted cookie tins and trays for parties or gifts, but sometimes the thought of making several different doughs at once is overwhelming. Having one basic dough that can play two entirely different roles is a lifesaver.
This simple, chocolate shortbread is rich and buttery. The combination of both cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate really takes these cookies to the next level of indulgence.
After making the basic dough, we divided it into two equal parts, adding a bit of peppermint extract to one half of the dough.
I wanted to make at least one of my cookies very simple - the kind I like to enjoy alongside a mug of tea. I rolled the peppermint dough somewhat thin and used these darling cookie molds to punch out the cookies. While they were still warm, we dusted them with a generous layer of confectioner's sugar and a sprinkling of peppermint dust.
The result was a wonderfully crisp, buttery cookie that is just the thing to serve alongside your morning mocha.
For the second half of the cookie dough we had to pull out all the stops, beginning with glittery jam. I was first introduced to glittery jam last year in London and, as you would expect, it kind of rocked my world, so I was beyond delighted to find these two delicious flavors at my local Cost Plus World Market in Williamsburg, Virginia.
After rolling the dough into balls, we indented the center of each cookie, leaving a shallow cavity ideal for holding a spoonful of jam and a smear of red wine ganache. The combination of the jam and the rich chocolate was truly delightful.
In the end, it was hard to pick a favorite. Thankfully, we did not have to.
After hours of juggling sheet trays, we stepped away, and though we still had confectioner's sugar in our hair and flour on our jeans, we stole a few moments and shared a pot of sweet, peppermint hot cocoa .
While we are not handing out any Christmas cookies yet, I am cataloguing these winning recipes for December and tucking half of the remaining dough into my freezer for last minute baking emergencies.
Thank you for joining me and my sister in our pre-Christmas baking extravaganza! All the products and specialty ingredients in this post are linked below, along with another fantastic holiday recipe from Brandi Milloy!
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Chocolate Christmas Cookies 2-Ways
for the cookie dough
- 1 1/2 lbs unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 7 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 12 ounces semi sweet chips, melted
- 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Place butter in the work bowl and beat on medium speed for one minute; until fluffy. Add granulated sugar to the butter and cream on medium speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Divide the dough and turn half of it out onto a floured surface. Shape into two equal discs and wrap in plastic wrap.
Pour the peppermint extract into the remaining half of the dough and mix well. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface, pat into two discs and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Cook's Note: At this point you could wrap the dough in wax paper, place in freezer bags, and freeze for up to two weeks, just allow the dough to defrost before rolling or shaping.
Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
for the peppermint cookies
makes about 48 cookies
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup peppermint dust sprinkles or finely crushed candy canes
Place the confectioner's sugar in a sifter.
Place the peppermint dough on a well-floured surface and roll out to 1/4-inch in thickness. Use cookie cutters or molds to cut the dough, placing the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly puffed and crisp on the edges. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool for 5-10 minutes, until just warm. Dust the warm cookies with confectioner's sugar and sprinkle with peppermint dust.
Place in airtight containers and store for up to a week. Enjoy!
for the red wine ganache and jam thumbprint cookies
makes about 36 cookies
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping
- 2 tablespoons merlot (at room temperature)
- 2 cups Wildy Delicious Glitter Spread (I used both the Mimosa and Christmas flavors for variety)
Use a cookie scoop to portion the prepared dough into 1-ounce balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.* Use your thumb to make an indent into the center of each cookie and bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly puffed and crisp on the edges, but soft in the center. These cookies are intended to remain somewhat chewy.
*Cook's Note: It is important to keep the dough cold, so try to work it as quickly and as little as possible. If you find that the indentation is not as prominent as you would like after the cookies have baked, just use a small spoon to press down on the center of each cookie while they are still hot.
Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and allow to cool completely. While the cookies cool, prepare the ganache.
Place chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a large, glass bowl. Microwave for thirty seconds, then stir, and heat for an additional thirty seconds. Do this until the chocolate is shiny and has completely melted. Whisk in merlot.
Use a spoon to fill each cookie with one teaspoon of ganache, following with one teaspoon full of jam. Store cookies in an airtight container for to 3 days. Enjoy!