Wednesday, December 21, 2011
So, you've been a little naughty this year, huh? There's a cookie for that!
Like most kids, as a child I was endlessly warned by my parents to "be a good girl, 'cause Santa Claus is watching you." I must admit, in retrospect, the thought of some old guy watching me while I was sleeping is more than a bit suspect. Ahh, but I digress. That ever looming threat of having Santa pass over my house on Christmas Eve was usually enough to scare me straight. On the off chance that I had a particularly naughty day, I assumed I could always lure the big guy with some tempting treats. It must have worked, because I never awoke to an empty stocking.
If you've had a few days (or months, who's counting) of less than nice behavior this year, I recommend making these Peppermint Bark Cookies. With all the flavor components of peppermint bark (white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and candy cane) baked into a soft and chewy cookie, I think they're good enough to cause Ol' Saint Nick to overlook any minor behavioral transgressions.
Peppermint Bark Cookies
adapted from Savory Sweet Life and Alton Brown
8 ounces (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 ounces granulated sugar
8 ounces brown sugar (light or dark, either is fine)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) whole milk, half and half, or cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 ounces bread flour (please, please weigh your flour; volumetric measurements are not reliable)
1 teaspoon sea salt, small to medium coarse
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
8-10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
8-10 ounces white baking chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (more or less) crushed candy canes (not pulverized, but no huge chunks either)
1. Cream together butter and sugars (brown and granulated) on medium high until very fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes, depending on the temperature of your butter and the speed/power of your mixer. Stop midway to scrape down sides of the bowl and beater blade.
2. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk. Beat for approximately 2 more minutes on medium high. Stop midway to scrape down sides of the bowl and beater blade.
3. Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Lower mixer speed to lowest setting. Gradually add dry ingredients, stopping once or twice to scrape down sides of the bowl. Continue until all dry ingredients are incorporated.
4. Add semi-sweet chips and white chocolate chunks. Either mix in using your mixers "fold" function, or stir in with a spoon.
5. Chill the dough for at least one hour. I tend to think longer is better. I usually try to chill for at least four hours, and ideally overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Place crushed candy canes in a shallow dish. Scoop dough into approximately 1 oz portions (I like to use a use a 1 oz ice cream scoop), and roll in crushed candy.
8. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced at least two inches apart, and bake for 11-13 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Cookies should be slightly brown around the edges, yet still appear undercooked in the center, when removed from the oven. The residual heat from the cookie sheet will continue to cook the center. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for at least five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Or eat them straight off of the cookie sheet. I won't tell anyone.
Note - You may notice that most of the ingredient portions are provided by weight, not volume. This is because I almost always use my digital food scale to weigh ingredients when I bake. Not only does this allow me to obtain more consistent results, but it also means fewer measuring cups to wash. That's a win-win in my book. If you don't have a digital food scale, I highly recommend that you consider getting one. It will make your life in the kitchen easier.