Monday, December 9, 2013

Peppermint & Dark Chocolate Ganache Cookies

   If you love the combination of dark chocolate and peppermint around the holiday season (I know I sure do), then these cookies are going to make your day. They stemmed from a friend I work with asking me to bake something with a real mint chocolate punch. I puttered around the net for a while, trying to find something that looked just right, when I found a recipe that looked promising on Cooking Classy.

   Now, while this recipe is based on another, I did make a few tweaks of my own to it. One of which was that I felt the cookies needed a bit more of a minty punch, so I upped the extract content. Working offshore presents its own little roadblocks in terms of what ingredients I have on hand to play with, and in this case it worked out well. Instead of a melted mint chocolate to form the tasty chocolate middle on each cookie, I decided to make a simple little batch of chocolate ganache.

   This also let me bump up my dark chocolate peppermint flavor, by making that ganache really minty. This way when your teeth sink through the firm, just-set ganache middle and down through the crisp cookie, you get a real surge of mint chocolate goodness dancing around your mouth.

   Around this time of year you probably want to make your cookies look festive, because the holiday season just has that effect on people. Right now I find myself looking at my cookie fridge at work and frowning, thinking “Not enough red and green…” which can be a bit of a problem sometimes! Baking enough cookies to feed 150 dessert-gobbling fiends every day is time consuming and sometimes I just don’t have the time to get fancy with my decorating. You probably get that at home too. Between work and all the social gatherings this time of year, it’s hard to find the time (and patience) to decorate every little snowman sugar cookie perfectly. Lucky for you, these cookies just require a few drops of coloured white chocolate and poof! Instant holiday cheer.


Peppermint & dark chocolate ganache cookies
 Prep time: 30 min.
Bake time: 8-10 min.
Yield: Around 4 dozen
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 & ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips*
2 & ¼ cups + 2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 & ½ tsp. peppermint extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. (170 g) chopped good-quality dark chocolate**
¾ cup cream
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. Peppermint extract
1 & ½ tsp. butter, unsalted

White chocolate drops
6 oz. (170 g) chopped white chocolate
2-3 drops red food colouring
1-2 drops green food colouring

1. Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine your butter, brown sugar, water and salt. Place this over medium heat and let the butter melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in your chocolate until melted and smooth. Let your mixture cool for 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, while your chocolate mixture cools combine your flour, cocoa and baking soda in a separate bowl. Mix them together with your hands, then set it aside for a moment. Pour your chocolate mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer and turn it on low with the paddle attachment. Blend in one egg at a time. Be sure that each egg has just been incorporated in before adding the next. Add extracts in with your eggs. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl and give a little mix just to make sure those bits get incorporated.

3. With your mixer on low, slowly add your dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of your bowl to get any flour left around the edges, and mix just till it’s been incorporated.

* Optional: If your dough looks too soft here, you can pull a little plastic wrap over it and pop it into the fridge for 15 min. to firm up a bit. Be careful though! If you leave it in for too long it will go very firm because of all the chocolate in it and will be a big hassle to portion! (I learned this the hard way.) If this happens, just let your dough sit out at room temperature until it’s more manageable.

4. Portion the dough out by rounded tablespoons (or use a wilton 40 scoop, like me) and roll into a ball before placing them 2” apart on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Using the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand, gently press down on each cookie until it forms a ¼” round disk. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they have pretty little crinkle crack lines and if you look close at the edges, have started to brown.  Let your cookies cool for 2 minutes on the sheet pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. For the chocolate ganache: In a small, heavy bottom saucepan, scald your cream & pinch of salt then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 4-5 minutes, then gently whisk. It’ll look like it won’t want to combine at first, but whisk-whisk-whisk and it’ll turn into a lovely ganache. Whisk in peppermint extract. Pop in the little piece of butter and whisk till melted for a glossier shine.

6. White chocolate drops: In a double boiler, or a bowl set over simmering water, melt your chocolate. Once it’s melted, pour 1/3 into one separate bowl, and 1/3 into another, saving the last 1/3. Colour one bowl red, and one green. Transfer each colour (white, red and green) to small piping bags (or to ziplock bags and snip the tips for easy home-made, disposable piping bags).

7. Assembly: Once your cookies have cooled, use a small palette knife or teaspoon to spread 1-2 tsp. chocolate ganache in the middle of each cookie. Pipe tiny drops of white chocolate over the tops. Let the cookies sit until the chocolate is set, or chill in the fridge till set. Store in an airtight container for 5-7 days.

Recipe source: Based on a Cooking Classy recipe
*You can use semi-sweet here if you don’t want the cookies to be quite as intense a dark chocolate punch
**Again, if you’d prefer something more sweet than rich in your cookie, try opting for a good quality milk chocolate in the ganache for a creamier center!

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