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Posts Tagged ‘peppermint’

by Caitlin Saniga

Peppermint fudge

Lots of fudge recipes use sweetened condensed milk as a smooth, creamy base, but I liked that this recipe used melted marshmallows and whipping cream instead. The texture seems lighter and chewier, which I liked. And if you’re wondering how in the world even a sharp knife might cut through hard candy, just have a little faith and sharpen your knife immediately before you start. It’s easier than it sounds …

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by Sarah Steimer

Peppermint cookies with chocolate drizzle

I found a basic shortbread recipe and just played around with flavors that I enjoy. In this case, it was peppermint and chocolate!


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by Sarah Steimer and Caitlin Saniga

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Sarah’s package of cookies to Caitlin included cranberry-pecan shortbreads, apple slice cookies (below the shortbreads, wrapped up), gingerbread anise biscotti (recipe here) and peppermint-chocolate swirl cookies. Sarah also included a few chocolate-covered pretzels (another recipe we posted in the past).

We love making cookies for the holidays and sharing photos and recipes of them on the blog (most notable was our 2010 Holiday Dozen guide). We often email or text each other to rave about how good the other’s photos look, or to say how good our own cookies tasted. On a few very rare occasions, we’ve been able to try each other’s creations. This year, we decided to send cookies directly to one another so we didn’t have to be too jealous when the pictures and recipes hit the Web! 

Below are the recipes for the cookies Sarah sent to Caitlin this year:

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Cranberry-pecan shortbreads

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Sarah: These cookies freeze incredibly well — and they’re the first ones I made this season, so how well they stored was very important.
Caitlin: I enjoyed the toasty, earthy flavors of these cookies. I can picture using raisins and walnuts instead of cranberries and pecans as alternative.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla, mixing until just combined.

Gradually add the flour, salt, cranberries and pecans. Continue to mix until everything is well combined.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces on a clean workspace. Roll each piece into an 8-inch log, and wrap each log in wax paper. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about two hours.

When ready, use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place the disks on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake at 375 degrees until the edges are golden, about 14-16 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through.

Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

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Apple slice cookies

  • 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon light cream (as a substitute, I used 1 tablespoon skim milk and added about a 1/2 tablespoon extra butter)
  • 1/3 cup thick applesauce
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Sarah: The cookbook I found this recipe in said it “won an award in 1945,” but gave no details as to why or how. If you’re looking for a mysterious, World War II-era fan favorite, look no further.
Caitlin: I loved these because they remind me of something my Baboo would have made. They’re slightly sweet and not too rich. Delicious!

Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the flour and cream (or substitute), mixing well.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each out to 12-inch logs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use your finger to make a deep indentation (although all the way to the sheet pan) down the center of each log length. Fill the indentation with the applesauce – you may not use all the applesauce.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie itself begins to turn golden. The cookies will still feel relatively soft when you remove them from the oven and have flattened out a bit.

While still warm, cut the cookies into 3/4-inch-wide diagonal slices. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Recipe adapted from: Swedish Cakes and Cookies

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Peppermint-chocolate swirl cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk

    Sarah: I love the little flecks of candy in these cookies — but there's a heck of a lot of steps involved in making these.Caitlin:

    Sarah: I love the little flecks of candy in these cookies — but there are a heck of a lot of steps involved in making these.
    Caitlin: I opened the box, and my jaw dropped at the sight of these pinwheels. How pretty! They look and taste perfect.

  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes (use Caitlin’s advice and grab the little candy canes, they’re way easier to crush)

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and milk. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Divide the dough in half and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper, for about two hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature to soften a bit.

Place one half of the dough in a bowl and add the chocolate and vanilla extract. Using your hands, combine the mixture well until the chocolate has been fully incorporated into the dough.

In a separate bowl, combine the second dough half with the egg yolk, peppermint extract and the crushed candy canes. Combine with your hands once again until the candy is well distributed throughout the dough.

Chill both of the doughs in the refrigerator for five minutes. Roll each half out on a clean surface over a sheet of wax paper. Each half should be rolled out to about a 1/4-inch thickness and about the same shape.

Place the sheet of peppermint dough on top of the chocolate dough, removing the peppermint’s wax paper. Press the edges of the dough together. Using the wax paper underneath, roll the dough into a log (working length-wise).

Wrap the log in wax paper and refrigerate for another two hours. Cut the cookies into slices a little thinner than a half inch-thick. Arrange about 1-inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-13 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Remove from the oven and let sit on the pan for about 2 minutes before letting fully cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Recipe adapted from: Alton Brown via the Food Network

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Caitlin: I was so impressed with Sarah’s cookies! Each variety looked and tasted perfect even after a trip in the mail. And cookies weren’t the only thing I found in my package of goodies. She snuck a few Christmas presents into the box as well, including this Scrabble letters tray with a customized nod to the blog. She also sent a pretty blue and white bowl and a gorgeous bird-themed tea towel — both of which you’re likely to see in blog photos sometime soon.

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by Caitlin Saniga

I couldn't make up my mind when it came to decorating the biscotti. I tried brushing melted chocolate on one cut side of some sticks and drizzling it over others.

I couldn’t make up my mind when it came to decorating the biscotti. I tried brushing melted chocolate on one cut side of some sticks and drizzling it over others. Still others I left plain because, let’s face it, these bad boys are pretty decadent as it is.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground espresso
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s candy cane kisses (or another white chocolate with peppermint flavor), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
  • 2 cups chocolate discs (the kind used for candy coating)
I think that the mini candy canes are easier to crush than the full-size ones because A.) They're more delicate, and B.) They're tend to come in small bags instead of being shrink-wrapped and impossible to peel open. To crush my mini candy canes, I left them wrapped while I used a flat-bottom glass to gently hammer them. About three blows did the job. Then I used a pair of scissors to open the bag. This method left very little mess.

I think that the mini candy canes are easier to crush than the full-size ones because A.) They’re more delicate, and B.) They tend to come in small bags instead of being shrink-wrapped with plastic and impossible to peel open. To crush my mini candy canes, I left them wrapped while I used a flat-bottom glass to gently hammer them. About three blows did the job. Then I used a pair of scissors to open the bag. This method left very little mess.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream together sugar and butter until well combined. Mix in eggs one at a time, and add the peppermint extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips, kisses and candy canes.

This is about how big each log should be. Arrange them two per pan.

This is about how big each log should be. Arrange them two per pan.

Divide the dough into four equal parts and mold into fat, long logs, 2 per baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through the cook time. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Allow the biscotti logs to cool for about 15 minutes.

With a long serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2 inch-thick slices, return to the baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove the biscotti from the oven and flip each slice. Return to the oven to cook for another 10 minutes, or until the centers of the slices are cooked through.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate discs in a double broiler then dip the bottom of the biscotti in the melted chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over a cut side of each slice. Place on a cooling rack, allow chocolate to set, then store in an airtight container. Biscotti will keep in a sealed container for about a month.

Makes about 2 dozen biscotti.

Recipe adapted from: Daydreamer Desserts

*During the month of December, we’re offering some simple biscotti recipes that can be quickly snatched for breakfast with coffee or enjoyed with tea after a long day of holiday preparation. All of our Crunch Time recipes can be found here.

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by Sarah Steimer

The "gourmet" chocolate makes all the difference in the world.

For marshmallows:

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I was out and substituted honey)
  • 4 packages (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin (they’re usually sold in four-packs anyhow)
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • water

Coat a 9-by-13 pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat the parchment with cooking spray (the first spray actually just helps the paper from curling off the pan). Set aside.

Put sugar, corn syrup and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and let the mixture come to a boil. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer (somehow had one of these in the basement).

Work it... quickly. Otherwise it'll start setting and you'll have a gloppy mess.

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. You may have to whisk them by hand a little bit to get it going, because most stand mixers’ whisks don’t touch the bottom of the bowl. You’d think with today’s technology we’d have figured that out along with a cure for cancer.

Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar/gelatin to the egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour mixture into lined pan (I actually ended up needing two pans but who knows). Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl food coloring into marshmallow to create a marbleized effect. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares. Roll the cut marshmallows in powdered sugar to prevent sticking and store in a ziploc bag or airtight container.

For hot chocolate:

  • 2 1/2 ounces 70 percent cocoa chocolate (this is about four squares of a Lindt chocolate bar)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice
  • pinch of salt

Combine everything but the milk in a pot and heat over low until the spices combine with the melted chocolate to make a paste. Add the milk and bring to just a boil, stirring often. Serve with the peppermint marshmallows.

Marshmallow recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart via What Megan’s Making

Hot chocolate recipe adapted from: Lisa is Bossy (weird?)

Photos by: Sarah Steimer

*During the month of January, we’ll post six hot chocolate recipes as part of Loving Cup, all of which can be found here.

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by Caitlin Saniga

The peppermint extract is crucial. Before I settled on this recipe, I botched a peppermint fudge because it didn’t have enough peppermint extract.

  • 10 candy canes
  • 1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided
  • 1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips

Place candy canes in a durable zip-top plastic bag. Use a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to break candy into small pieces. (Don’t go overboard and pulverize it into pink dust. If you want pink dust, put it in a blender.) (I found it helpful to unwrap and freeze the candy canes for about 15 minutes before I started.) Set aside.

Lightly grease a rimmed cookie sheet and line with wax paper, smoothing out wrinkles; set aside.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on half-power in 40-second increments (4 times should be good), stirring with a spatula between cook times. When chocolate is creamy and most lumps are melted, stir in 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Pour chocolate onto lined cookie sheet. Quickly use a spatula to evenly spread the chocolate. Sprinkle about half of the candy cane pieces over the chocolate. Freeze for a half-hour.

Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on half-power in 40-second increments (about 4 times), stirring with a spatula between cook times. When chocolate is creamy and most lumps are melted, stir in 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Pour white chocolate over other chocolate layer. Quickly use a spatula to spread the chocolate. (Be careful: The warm white chocolate will melt the semi-sweet chocolate if you fuss with it too much.) Sprinkle the rest of the candy pieces over the chocolate. Freeze for a half-hour.

Remove bark from the freezer, and use the handle of a rolling pin or another blunt object to crack sheet of chocolate into pieces. (I refrigerated my peppermint bark after that because I’m paranoid it will melt.)

Makes a decent amount (but you could easily double the recipe).

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

*Holiday Dozen is a collection of 12 recipes that we’ll post every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday until Christmas. Click here for more from our dozen.

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