As I have mentioned before, this year has not been so festive. Maybe that's why I decided that I would do more than just think about baking this holiday season and actually do some baking. I needed to generate some cheer of my own, and it wouldn't hurt to spread some of it around a little.
I admit I was perhaps a tad ambitious for my first step back into the Christmas kitchen. I already knew I was going to be making the graham cracker brownies for our second annual knitting class party, but I decided to make another batch to take to work with me. Last year I took some Mexican Wine Cookies in, which the owner of the company liked a lot; I decided this year I would make a batch just for her. One of the great tragedies of my friend Mary's life is her recently developed allergy to all things chocolate. She loves gingerbread and I felt guilty that I had not gotten around to making it last year like I had hoped to do, so I was determined to make her some this year.
And then I found two blogging events that looked interesting, and I decided to add those into the mix - Zorra's Sugar High Friday "The Proof Is in the Pudding," and Foodblogga's ambitious Eat Christmas Cookies. I decided to make Butterscotch Pudding for SHF.
But what cookies should I use for Eat Christmas Cookies? I had already written about the graham cracker brownies, Mexican Wine Cookies and gingerbread, and even though I haven't yet posted recipes for any of them, I wanted to find something new because I am a little on a roll with the improvised baking thing. And, more to the point, I had discovered these cute little Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips and was just dying to try them out.
I don't know if you were on the receiving end of the Christmas Cookie email that went around this year, but I was lucky enough to get it. Someone went to a lot of trouble posting links to every single cookie recipe from Northpole.com (warning: sound effects) into an email where you just click on the recipe title and it takes you straight to the recipe. I have since bookmarked the site and just go there instead of hunting down the email. They also have cake, pie, candy, and other recipes.
I was looking for a recipe that I could use with the peppermint chips. There was a recipe for Peppermint Cookies that looked suspiciously similar to the Toll House Cookie recipe. Less of a butter-to-flour ratio and mint extract instead of vanilla, and water instead of eggs. I don't know if those differences work better for the peppermint; I do know that the less butter, the less the cookie spreads out.
I added the water a tablespoon at a time and the dough never seemed to get to the right consistency, and then as usually happens I added too much and it was kind of sticky, so I added more flour, so right off the bat I figured I might be in a little trouble. Since I wasn't sure how they were going to come out, I decided to make bigger cookies to get it over with, and used an ice cream scoop to measure out the dough. To my surprise, they came out ok. Not great, but OK.
What they needed was some kind of topping. Luckily, I had another bag of the peppermint chips. The cookies were so big that it seemed reasonable to ice them so I decided to improvise some kind of icing out of the chips. I melted them in the microwave and then stirred in the heavy cream I had leftover from the pudding and - voila! - ganache!
That icing made all the difference. I like the way the cookies held their shape with less butter, but I think next time I will use eggs instead of water. Hmmm, maybe I could use the creme de menthe chips and make them for Easter . . .
So, while I am sorry I missed the deadline for the event, I am very happy that I made these cookies. So far, my baking improvisations have turned out pretty well. Well enough for me to keep trying, at any rate. I am going to go ahead and post the recipe, but I might revise it later if I like it better with the eggs.
Home Cookin Chapter: Cookies
ICED HOLIDAY PEPPERMINT COOKIES1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp mint extract
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp water
2 10-oz. bag Andes Peppermint Crunch
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cream together butter with sugars until light and creamy. Add vanilla and blend in.
In separate bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda. Add to sugar mixture. Stir in water as needed. Add more water if necessary until batter is smooth. Blend in mint extract and one bag of the peppermint baking chips.
Drop large spoonsful (an ice cream scoop will give you a good size) of batter on a cookie sheet - 6 to a sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on rack. Let cool.
In the microwave using 30 second intervals, melt the other bag of the peppermint baking chips, stirring until smooth. Add the cream and stir until well blended. Spoon over the cookies and let cool.
Makes 2 dozen large cookies.
Adapted from a recipe from the kitchen of Granma Hinckley (Copyright 2007 Northpole.com, LLC)
Exported from Home Cookin 5.5 (www.mountain-software.com)