In Reruns: Christmas Cookies and Peppermint Bark!

A flurry of messages on Facebook last night about Christmas cookies left me thinking, wow, time to make something for that cookie party on Friday night and time to make peppermint bark for the nursery school teachers and….well, here we are. Start your ovens! From Dec. 14, 2007….

I just peeked at my stats, assuming you had ALL LEFT ME for good after not posting all week, but surprise, you have been here checking for something new every day. Your faith in me is touching, if undeserved. At least I left you with something good to look at all week.

But anyway. It’s just that I’ve been doing all this freelance work for Santa this week, and he is an absolute BEAR on the deadlines, so my blogging life suffered a bit. But I make it up to you with not one but TWO recipes today, both diligently tested at my house in the last 24 hours.

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Mine is only dark chocolate this year. Because I’m simplifying.

Peppermint Bark

You do know you don’t have to buy this only at Williams-Sonoma for $20 a tin or Trader Joe’s for slightly less, right? Because you can make it in your own kitchen, and you get to use your favorite kind of chocolate, too.

This recipe is infinitely adaptable (white chocolate! dark chocolate! layers! peppermint extract! or nooo!), but here are the basic ratios:

Crushed candy canes, to yield one cup

One pound chocolate (I like bittersweet or sometimes I layer dark and white)

(A word about chocolate: Callebaut, Valhrona are excellent choices for this confection and sold in big chunks at places like Whole Foods, but not to worry— you can also use grocery store chocolate chips like Ghiradelli or packaged squares like Bakers. Just stay away from the milk chocolate. Because that is wrong.)

1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring, optional

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and smash away into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and stir constantly. Combine candy cane chunks/dust with chocolate, but save some of the biggest chunks to press into the top after you pour it out.

Add peppermint flavoring at this point, if desired. Chocolate will separate a little at this point, but just keep stirring.

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet (with edges, to contain the river of chocolate) lined with parchment or waxed paper, add big chunks of candy cane on top and place in a cold spot for 45 minutes or until firm. (Don’t use your Silpat liner here, as I learned—your bark will be etched with the Silpat pattern.) Remove from cookie sheet and shatter into cookie-sized pieces.

Supposedly this will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, but I wouldn’t know. (Plus, if you put it in the fridge, it will get that unsightly white cocoa “bloom”—just eat it, for God’s sake, or give it away.)

I promise to add the cookie recipe later today, but Santa is cracking the whip right now.

Like you were going to make cookies before breakfast anyway.

See you later—it’s good to be back!

And, since we live in the age of TIVO and instant gratification, you get the cookie post too, even though last year you had to wait for it.

For the love of Christmas cookies

So, I love Christmas cookies. LOVE them. And I plan to enjoy them wholeheartedly this year, because last year? Was Christmas with no egg, no dairy and no soy. And while my family came through with AMAZING substitutions (email me if you need help in that department), I still will be enjoying a healthy, if you will, dose of butterfat this year.

But anyway, that is where you come in, dear readers. I want your cookie recipes.

Please post a favorite Christmas cookie recipe in the comments, or on your site and post the link or if you scavenged it from out there in the interwebs, then share the love and post a link to that. PLEASE.

Consider it your little Christmas present to Hank & Willie, and think of the amazing cookie resource we can create. Bakers of cookies like Granny Annie’s Bourbon Balls, Jayne’s Toffee and Shannon’s Rum Balls, I’m talking to you.

Because I NEED those recipes this year.

Here’s a few on my list:

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Photo by Smitten Kitchen

Homemade Oreos from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve had the exquisite priveledge of enjoying these baked by TWO Hank & Willie readers, Clink and Lorraine. Send ‘em along if you want me to taste YOUR version. I’m a very appreciative audience.

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Photo by Milk & Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies, originally by Martha, as adapted over at the delicious food blog, Milk & Cookies. I agree with the adaptation, because I don’t find much call for milk chocolate in my life.

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Peppermint Checkerboards by Julie, via Cookies Unlimited.

Peppermint Checkerboards, as seen in Cookies Unlimited. Version here made by Julie at A Little Pregnant who says, “I modified Malgieri’s vanilla sablé recipe by replacing half of the vanilla with peppermint extract, and then dyeing the holy Christmas shit out of half of the dough.”

And then finally, the mother lode of Christmas cookies, here at Food Blogga — a collection of Christmas cookies from readers around the world, updated daily. You even have a chance to win a dessert cookbook, Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard. So AFTER you post your recipe here, head over to Christmas Cookies Around the World to post yours and enter to win this yummy-looking cookbook. Mmmm….

Here’s what I’m entering over there:

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(Recipe and illustration by Susan Branch, Christmas from the Heart of Home)

I’ve been making these delicious, easy butter cookies for YEARS, and if you make no other cookie, make this one. It can be anything—twist this dough into candy canes, roll it out (chill it mercilessly first) and use your cookie cutters, put it in a pastry bag and squirt it through a # 2 star tip, or roll it all into one giant snake, roll it in sprinkles or mini chips or coconut and slice and bake into perfect rounds….you get the idea. The dough does need to be really well chilled to work with, though. All that butter, you know.

Annie Hall’s Butter Cookies

2 cups unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. With an electric mixer, even the hand-held kind, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla, mix well. Suft flour and salt together and beat into butter mixture until well mixed.

When ready to bake use an ungreased cookie sheet (I use my Silpat liners, but not required.) and place cookies about one inch apart. Bake for about ten minutes, but do not brown them. Remove cookies from cookie sheet while still warm and cool on sheets of waxed paper.

And as my aunt pointed out last year, when you make these, you have extra egg white, so then you make THESE:

Surprise Meringues

2 egg whites (clearly, you WILL have to double the recipe after making those butter cookies.)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 6-oz pkg chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sugar

Beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually, beating until peaks are stiff. Fold in chocolate and nuts. Cover cookie sheet with plain brown paper or parchment paper. Drop mixture on by rounded teaspoon. Bake in slow (300F) oven about 25 min. Makes about 2 dozen, cool before removing from paper.

Or you make these, provided by Christina last year:
Christina’s Mom’s Coconut Macaroons

3 eggs white
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz coconut

Whip eggs, salt and vanilla until peaks form. Slowly add sugar while continuing to beat until stiff. Gently fold in the coconut. Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet covered with brown paper/parchment paper. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes; cool before removing from paper. and then ENJOY!

Get thee to a kitchen and start baking, folks! But not before you post what you’re baking here.

Tomorrow? Shannon’s Rum Balls. You won’t want to miss them!

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2 Responses to “In Reruns: Christmas Cookies and Peppermint Bark!”

  1. Paper Moss Says:

    I am tackling the peppermint bark cookies this weekend… eep! Wish me luck 🙂

  2. Julia Says:

    Your peppermint bark sounds fabulous…and I didn’t realize that it was that easy to make. I have never made peppermint bark before, but I would like to give it a shot this year. I just love to bake around the holidays; it is my favorite Christmas tradition. I think baking cookies and giving them as gifts is such a great idea. I work with Better Recipes and I feel that they offer a nice variety of holiday cookie recipes that are easy to make and yummy. If you are looking for something new and exciting to make this holiday season, I recommend that you check out their Christmas Cookie Recipes

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