Christmastime is a big deal in our house. It may take us a while to get a tree, put up the lights and decorate it, but the holiday season is always on our mind. We are all about Christmas cookies. I have memories baking with my mom and sister—battling it out with the spritz machine, scrapping batches of over- browned cookies (euphemism), and getting powdered sugar icing and colorful sprinkles all over the kitchen on decorating days.
Now, it’s a little different. Same mess, same fun, but we have perfected the recipes that we have been making for ages (cut-out, drop, and bar). This year, we decided to make many of our staples and add a few new recipes into the mix.
The first new recipe we tried was for a chocolate cookie. Our mother always complains that our Christmases do not have enough chocolate despite the fudge. A colleague of mine mentioned a while back that he has an excellent recipe for chocolate mint cookies and was generous to share it.
recipe by Peter Ziebel
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Peppermint extract
confectioner's sugar, for rolling
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Add the butter in small pieces and pulse 30 or so times until the mixture is well combined and powdery/crumbly. Pour it into a large bowl.
Add eggs and vanilla and mint and mix by hand until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly dry – it will seem at first that there isn’t enough moisture, but if you keep working it, eventually it will come together.
Place a few heaping spoonfuls of confectioner's sugar into a shallow dish. Roll dough into 1 1/2” balls and roll the balls in confectioner's sugar to coat. Place them an inch or two apart on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat or sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12–14 minutes, until just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 20 cookies.
Because some of us have a mild aversion to mint and chocolate, we adjusted the recipe a little. We replaced the peppermint extract with about a teaspoon of Kahlua, which really complimented the espresso and highlighted the chocolate of the cookie. Instead of just rolling the cookies in powdered sugar, we tried out a method we saw with the Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Cook’s Illustrated, which involved an extra step. They recommend rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar first, followed by the powdered sugar before baking—more crinkles.
These cookies turned out phenomenal and they might even be the unanimous favorite this year. The outside of the cookie is crunchy, sweet, and textured on the tongue, while the inside is soft, chewy and intensely chocolaty. I think Santa would love to have these guys on his plate this year. There’s still time before he comes down that chimney!