Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crackles

I know, it’s late for a post such as this one, but I wanted to mention one of my favorite cookie discoveries of this Holiday season— Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crackles.

I copied this recipe from Laura’s blog over at A Spiced Life. I have always loved the flavor combination of chocolate and peppermint. My Mom encouraged my baking, when I was a kid, and my favorite cake was chocolate with a peppermint-flavored buttercream frosting. My poor Dad, however, is not a fan of peppermint so I would be requested to frost only 2/3 of the cake; he would then squirt some Reddi-Whip on his plain, unfrosted slices…

My first batch, a double, was not enough and I needed to make another. First note, if you do make a double batch, after melting the chocolate and butter, add the crushed peppermint and then transfer it to a large bowl (I used my KA). The batter is too dense, when the ingredients are doubled, to hand-mix.

Next, instead of crushing those round peppermint candies (which are rather thick) I used mini candy canes. This worked great, I used my small food processor, although removing the static-charged cellophane wrapping challenged my patience. ;)

I tried a few variations on “finishing” these cookies. Laura said that pressing the crushed peppermint into the cookie after baking didn’t work very well, so I didn’t even try it. I rolled the unbaked dough balls in powdered sugar prior to baking, but the powdered sugar clumped and, when baked, the cookie was covered in a sticky, uneven coating of it. What worked best, for me, was rolling the dough in my hands then pressing the tops of the balls lightly into a saucer of snowflake-shaped sprinkles.

After baking, I allowed the cookies to cool for 5 minutes, then sifted powdered sugar over.

These are delicious—fudgey, dense, with an almost brownie-like flavor. And nicely “pepperminty”!

My changes are noted below in italics.

Chocolate Chip & Peppermint Crunch Crackles
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used half dark chocolate and half semisweet)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies (or 22 mini candy canes, crushed)
6 1/2 T sugar
3 large eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 t peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup (about 3 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Andes peppermint baking chips (I didn’t have these, so I used semisweet chips)
Coarsely crushed peppermints (didn’t use)
Powdered sugar

Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolates melt and mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat. Mix in finely crushed mints and 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Whisk eggs into the chocolate mixture, 1 at a time, then whisk in vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl to blend. Whisk flour mixture in to the chocolate mixture. Fold the chocolate chips and Andes baking chips into chocolate mixture. Cover batter and chill until firm enough to shape, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using 1 generous tablespoonful for each cookie, roll dough between moistened palms into 1 1/4-inch-diameter balls, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked on top but still soft to touch in center, about 11 minutes. (Mine didn’t exactly get cracked on top, but they were done when the edges looked dry and the centers were still a bit soft)

Let stand on sheets 5 minutes. Press coarsely crushed mints onto tops of cookies or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Transfer to racks; cool completely.

Well, this is it until after Christmas. I try my best, every year, to be organized and, every year, I find that I didn’t do so well… :)

Happy holidays, everyone!