White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

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Today is my last blog post of 2014, and what a year it has been. There have been a lot of changes, both good and bad, and, honestly, I’m kind of ready to leave it behind. A new year always holds such promise for fresh starts and trying new things, and I could use that right about now.

One resolution that affects you, my readers, is that SMiLes by Meg will have a new home sometime early in 2015! For Christmas, my brother got me a new domain name (website, for anyone who doesn’t do that stuff), and as soon as I have the time to figure it out, I’ll be building that new site and transferring to it full time. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when that switch is going to happen!

Anyways, for my last post of the year, here’s one more cookie from my cookie tins that could realistically be made for the rest of the winter – and would also be great for New Year’s Eve: White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies!

Full disclosure: the reviews on this one have been that they are a grown-up cookie – kids were bigger fans of the gingerbread men and reindeer cookies I’ve made before.

First, chop eight ounces of white chocolate into chunks. Set four ounces aside for later use. I used Ghirardelli, but Lindt makes a good baking bar, too.

 

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Put the other four ounces in  a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted.

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In a large bowl, beat butter with a hand mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.

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Add the sugar and baking powder and beat until fluffy.

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Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until combined.

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Add the melted white chocolate and beat until smooth.

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Add the flour and beat until combined, scraping down sides to ensure all is mixed in.

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Stir in the peppermint chunks and white chocolate chunks. I used candy cane pieces that I found at Michael’s, but you could also just crush up candy canes or use the Ande’s peppermint pieces as well.

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Drop the cookie dough by the rounded spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.

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Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. I think these would be especially good with hot chocolate, but they are pretty delicious on their own.

Enjoy!

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White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped candy canes

Directions:

  1. Melt 4 ounces of white chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Beat butter on high speed in a large bowl using a hand mixer for 30 seconds.
  3. Add sugar and baking powder and beat until combined.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla extract and continue to beat.
  5. Add melted white chocolate and beat until smooth.
  6. Add flour and beat until incorporated.
  7. Stir in remaining white chocolate chunks and peppermint pieces.
  8. Drop by rounded spoonful on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden at edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Gingerbread Men

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This is the latest I’ve posted in awhile.  I always underestimate how long it will take me to decorate cookies.  Oh well, I can’t help being a perfectionist.

Anyways, after a brief hiatus last week, the Christmas Cookie Project is back with a vengeance.  Tomorrow there’s a holiday at work, to which I committed cookies.  And then there are all of the various people I need to give cookie tins to.  And then of course there are my students, who have requested treats as well.  In short, I will be baking every day this week.  And maybe posting some of it, but more likely posting a mega-cookie-montage next week.

This week, we are starting with the classic: Gingerbread Men.  Technically, the recipe is for Peppar Kakor (the o is supposed to have those dot things, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it), or Swedish Molasses Ginger Cookies.  But I just use it for gingerbread men.

To start, cream together the egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar and molasses.  I almost used up one of my two open molasses jars on this and remembered not to buy more, which was exciting.

 

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With all the molasses, the crisco makes a nice little island in the middle.  But when it’s mixed up, it looks like this:

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In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, baking soda and the spices.

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Add the flour to the molasses mixture and mix well.  I did so in a couple additions because I didn’t want to overwork my yellow mixer.

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Add flour until the dough is the right consistency for rolling.  In other words, you don’t want it to stick to your hands.  I also throw it in the fridge for a bit to chill because I think it makes it easier to handle.  Ironically, while my cookie dough was chilling, I got in a workout, which seems kind of strange to do in the middle of baking cookies, but when I was done the dough was ready to be rolled.

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Take out a piece of it, put it on a well floured mat, flour the rolling pin, and roll it really thin.  Like really really thin.  Otherwise your gingerbread men will be obese and very not man-shaped.

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If you want to see how obsessive I am about cookie cutting maximization, check out my elephant cookies, but I figured I didn’t need to subject you to that again.

Side story: in preparation for these cookies I had to find a gingerbread man cookie cutter.  I used it as an excuse to go to Williams-Sonoma, and was directed to the back of the store.  The first one I saw was one of their nice copper ones, and it was $8.  I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on a single cookie cutter and was about to abandon to go check at CVS, when I went to the other side of the rack and found the $2 version.  So I bought 4.

Anyways, transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until the edges are golden.  There is very little time between golden and burnt to a crisp, so keep an eye on them.  I also made houses for my gingerbread men.  It seemed fitting.  But they demonstrate golden brown better.

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Allow to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet to crisp up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container until ready to frost.

Now, this time around I had meringue powder, so I used a different royal icing recipe than the sugar cookies.  To make the icing, mix the confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and 5-6 tablespoons (depending on the consistency you want) of water until it looks like frosting.  Pro tip: if you mix with your mixer as if it’s a spoon first, you won’t have a sugar-covered kitchen.

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Scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a #3 tip and keep the remaining covered while not using.  It hardens really fast.  Ice the cookies as you wish.  I just googled “Decorated Gingerbread Men” to see what other people did.  And I had M&Ms on hand so I used those for buttons.

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At first I accidentally put the M&M “m” side up, but then I was able to rationalize that it was advertisement for SMiLes by Meg and decided they all had to be “m” side up.  Geminis are really good at coming up with these sorts of justifications, I’ve been told.

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I also wasn’t totally sure the best way to go about decorating the house, but this is what I came up with:

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Anyways, I had a lot of cookies, so I set aside 10 houses and 10 men for my cookie tins.  The rest are finding there way to work tomorrow for our party.  So if you’ll be there, get excited.

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Gingerbread cookies store really well for awhile, as long as you keep them in airtight containers.  Also, the icing hardens fast enough that they are fine to stack.

Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Men

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crisco
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3-5 cups flour 

For the icing:

  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5-6 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Cream together egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar, and molasses.
  2. Whisk together baking soda, spices, and 3 cups flour in separate bowl.
  3. Add to molasses mixture and mix well.
  4. Keep adding flour until dough is the right consistency for rolling and cutting cookies.  Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll dough thin and cut cookies.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until edges turn brown.  Leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes to crisp before removing to wire rack.
  7. Mix confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and water for icing in a large bowl.  Transfer to pastry bag and decorate.