It's December now, and whether you like it or not, the Christmas season is upon us. Last week I took it upon myself to climb into bed with a massive stack of old December issues from Bon Appetit and Gourmet, in pursuit of the perfect Christmas cookie. I am practically giddy at what I found, and so far I've made three different batches of exquisite holiday cookies.
I've heard that as you get older traditions such as Christmas and birthdays become less exciting, but for me, each year I get more and more into things. This year, for example, I had a birthday party for the first time since I was 16. As far as Christmas this year goes, I actually had a sit down conversation with my mom about what she wants me to bake for her parties and, of course, for our family. These are the conversations I dream about. The ones where people are asking me to bake them excessive amounts of sweets. I don't know exactly what it is but it's a fact: I just keep becoming more involved, more enthusiastic, and more excited every year.
Just the mere mention of Christmas baking should put a smile on your face and a burning desire in your heart because between me and you, I have some AMAZING treats to share.
I thought I'd start things off with something simple and sweet. Essentially you are going to make a buttery, slightly crunchy, sugar cookie and then top it with semisweet chocolate, crushed candy canes, and a modest drizzle of white chocolate. It is the kind of recipe you are going to make when you are home alone with your brother and sister, left to your own devises for dinner. It's a straightforward recipe and the result is wonderfully festive. This recipe isn't anything fancy really, just a twist on a holiday favorite, but there is something about these cookies that is ridiculously addictive. Perhaps is the added crunch from the candy canes. Or maybe it's the buttery, crumbly sugar cookie crust. Whatever it is, you won't be able to keep yourself from grabbing just one more piece.
Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2009
I think it kind of goes without saying that the higher the quality of the chocolate you use, the better the overall result is going to be. I generally go for, and highly recommend Callebaut chocolate, but Lindt or Perugina will do just fine.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup finely chopped peppermint candy canes (about 3 ounces)
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13 x 9 x 2- inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sids f pan. Whisk four and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.
Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.
Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Using paper overhang as said, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookies into irregular pieces.
Store in refrigerator in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper.
Yield: Makes about 36 cookies