compost / kitchen sink cookies

This time of year always puts me in the mood to clean things out.  Closets, drawers, the pantry, the freezer.  The latter two came in handy for this particular recipe.

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These cookies were inspired by the Compost Cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar.  I haven’t visited NYC for 2 years and have been feeling some serious withdrawal for my favorite bakeries so making these helped ease the pain, and as I mentioned previously, it helped me do a bit of cleaning out at the same time!

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The original recipe calls for pretzels, potato chips, chocolate chips, ground coffee, butterscotch chips, rolled oats, and graham cracker crust but I only had a few of those items on hand so I improvised.  I used potato chips, semi sweet chocolate chips and chocolate chunks (yes, I often have both on hand), white chocolate chunks, ground up homemade vanilla wafers (left over in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust), and ground up black sesame seeds (leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream and accidentally ground up too many seeds.)

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The results were a multi-textured cookie that satisfied both salty and sweet cravings and almost felt like a meal due to their robustness.  And better yet, I cleared out some space for more random leftover goodies from future baking projects!

Kitchen Sink Cookies (adapted from the Compost Cookies recipe in “Milk: Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combo of milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate chunks as that is what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups potato chips (Cape Cod brand are recommended because they are crunchy and don’t break down too much in the mixing process)
  • 1 1/2 cups of any other mix-ins you have on hand, I used ground homemade vanilla wafers I had leftover in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust, as well as ground black sesame seeds that I had leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream; other recommendations are pretzels, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, ground coffee (2 1/2 teaspoons is the recommended measurement for ground coffee), old-fashioned rolled oats, but feel free to experiment

Combine the butter, and sugars in the bowl f a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips and any other mix-ins except for potato chips and pretzels, and mix just until incorporated.  Add the potato chips and pretzels (if using) and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated.  Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

Portion out the dough in approximately 1/3 cup measurements onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Pat the tops of the cookie dough flat.  Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week.  Do not bake your cookies from room temperature as they will not bake properly.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 18 minutes.  The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.  After 18 minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center.  Give them an extra minute or so if that is not the case.

Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.  At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

cookie dough ice cream

As you may have noticed I’ve been making a lot of ice cream lately, though surprisingly I hadn’t previously attempted making my favorite kind of ice cream so I decided it was high time I changed that.

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I started by making a vanilla custard base by slicing open a vanilla bean and scraping the seeds into sugar and then rubbing them together to infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar.

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Then I stirred egg yolks into the vanilla-infused sugar while heating up whole milk and heavy cream over the stove to the point of steaming but not boiling.

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Then I whisked the milk mixture with the egg mixture and returned them both to the stove and threw in the empty vanilla bean pod (why not!) to continue heating until it thickened.

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Once the mixture thickened I strained it into a bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water to help cool the custard down.

In the meantime I prepared the cookie dough for the most important part of the ice cream.

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I had a little help.  My friend’s daughter Zakiya makes an excellent kitchen assistant.  (Don’t worry, I made her wash her hands like twenty times before rolling the dough balls.  [Or maybe I’m the only person whose first thought upon seeing a child holding food I may later consume is “I hope they washed their hands…])

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She was so helpful and eager to learn that I for sure will be using her assistance again in the future.  And her cookie dough balls were perfectly round!  Mine were lumpy.  No comparison.

Allow me to digress for a minute here upon this amazing little creature of a person.  Below is baby Z, around a week old.  She was born right before I moved to New York.

baby z

Here she is not quite a year later, entertaining as always.

z toddler

Two and a half-ish.  She loved that whistle.  The girl knows her accessories…

toddler z 2

Four.  She was pretending to be a bee at Eastern Market.  Her idea, not mine.  I just asked her to stand in front of the pretty flowers and smile.

z as bee

She’ll be eight in a few weeks and I’m not sure where the time has gone.  Surely I haven’t aged any!  Okay, back to the ice cream…

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After the custard has completely cooled and churned in an ice cream maker and after the cookie dough has chilled properly in the freezer you stir the two together.  The custard should be about the consistency of soft serve.  After they’ve been stirred together they need to be moved to a freezer-safe container and chilled for several hours more in the freezer before serving.

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In a word, divine.  I wolfed it down in a couple of days which means I will never again make it unless I have guests to share it with.

Thanks to Z for her help and her mom Tracey for snapping some of the photos!

Cookie Dough Ice Cream (custard from “Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book” by Jake Goodby, Sean Vahey, and Paolo Lucchesi; cookie dough recipe from www.joythebaker.com)

Cookie Dough:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes in the machine. Beat in yogurt along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Using hands, roll bite-sized balls and then place on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen, at least three hours.

Custard:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fill a large bowl or pan with ice and water.  Place a large, clean bowl in the ice bath and fit the bowl with a fine-mesh strainer.

In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling.

Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean lengthwise.  Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, scrape out the insides into a medium bowl.  Add the sugar and rub it all together with your fingers to incorporate and evenly distribute the vanilla seeds.  Get all the last bits from the bean (save the pod.)  Whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat.  Slowly pour about half of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  Transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture and return it to medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan so it doesn’t scorch, until the liquid begins to steam and you can feel the spatula scrape against the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the custard from the heat and immediately pour it through the strainer into the clean bowl you set up in the ice bath.  Tuck the vanilla bean pod back into the custard.  Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

When the custard has totally cooled, cover the bowl and let steep and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  When you are ready to freeze the custard, remove the vanilla bean, transfer the custard to an ice cream maker, and spin according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When custard looks to the texture of soft serve, remove from freezer bowl and stir in cookie dough balls.  Eat immediately, or transfer to an airtight container, cover, and freeze for up to 1 week.

chocolate flecked layer cake with milk chocolate frosting

From the moment I saw a photo of this cake in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living I knew I had to make it.  The combination of bittersweet chocolate chunks in the cake and sweet milk chocolate in the frosting spoke to me in a way that only chocolate can.

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The cake is a beautiful mixture of chopped up bittersweet chocolate and many of the usual cake batter suspects (flour, butter, eggs) along with sour cream which adds an unexpected tang and makes the cake extra moist.

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After folding the chocolate chunks into the batter you pour the results evenly in two cake pans that have been buttered and lined with parchment paper that has been buttered and lightly floured.

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It bakes into a beautiful golden cake with flecks of chocolate dotting it throughout.

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While the cakes cool you melt milk chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (I didn’t mess around in the chocolate department and used Milka chocolate bars.  The German I made the cake for was especially appreciative.)  After the chocolate has cooled slightly, mix it with softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, a pinch of salt, and more of that gloriously tangy sour cream.

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Though you only use two pans for this cake, it is actually a four-layer cake which means you have to divide the two cakes in half lengthwise with either a bread knife or I have also heard of people using non-flavored dental floss though have never tried it myself.  Frost between layers with the frosting and then around the outside of the cake as best you can.  NOTE: the frosting recipe easily makes enough for two layer cakes.  I put my leftover frosting in the freezer for use at a later date.

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It was a hit with all who sampled it and there were many Europeans in attendance who don’t like things too sweet so were pleased with the tangy/sweet/bittersweet thing going on within this majesty of a cake.  The pieces went in such a hurry I never managed to take a photo of one!  Such a problem to have.

Chocolate Flecked Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting (from http://www.marthastewart.com)

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk plus 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (61 to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, and line with parchment. Butter paper, and flour pans. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat together butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in yolk and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in chocolate.

Divide batter between pans, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes, remove pans and parchment, and let cool completely, right side up, on wire racks.

Cut each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place 1 bottom layer on a platter or cake stand, and spread evenly with 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with a second layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place third layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Place fourth layer on top. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting (about 2 3/4 cups), smoothing top and sides. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, uncovered, up to 2 days; if refrigerated, let cake come to room temperature before serving.

Frosting:

  • 1 pound milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Let cool slightly. Beat together butter, sugar, and salt with a mixer until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in chocolate, then sour cream, and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Frosting should be spreadable. If too loose, refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat until smooth.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

I love sesame seeds and while I’ve mostly had them in savory foods, I am starting to really appreciate them in sweets too, as evidenced by this ice cream and this cake.  A while back I bought myself a lovely cookbook that has a recipe for chocolate tahini cookies and since tahini is just ground sesame seeds I thought this seemed like a really great idea.

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The recipe in the cookbook called for a few gluten-free flours that I do not currently have in my arsenal so I instead took inspiration from it and adapted a traditional chocolate chip recipe instead.

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I had a few mostly empty bags of chocolate chips and chunks so combined forces in these cookies and actually like how the texture turned out as a result.  Love those happy accidents!  Instead of traditional salt I used fleur de sel (fancy French sea salt) which gave it a little extra bite as well.

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Tahini kind of reminds me of peanut butter but not as sweet.  I don’t know that I’ll be smearing it all over a piece of bread anytime soon but think it will be great as a substitute in baked goods.

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These cookies are a nice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.  They are not quite as sweet and have the subtle sesame seed flavoring that I found to be very nice and I think you will too.

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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (inspired by recipe found in “La Tartine Gourmande” by Beatrice Peltre)

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons), softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Blend in tahini until incorporated.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the wet ingredients and stir until well blended.  Stir in vanilla until combined and then stir in chocolate chips.

Place small rounds of dough two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until brown.  Let cool and enjoy.

the simplest and most amazing toffee you’ll ever eat

I first had a version of this toffee at a friend’s Passover dinner a few years back and I shamelessly ate more than my fair share at the end of the long meal.  I couldn’t help myself it was so good!

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My friend told me then how easy it was to make but I decided not to attempt it on my own because this is exactly the sort of thing you don’t want sitting around your house or you will eat it all in a very short amount of time and then feel guilty for having done so.  However, it is a great thing to make when you need to bring a sweet treat to a party or event on short notice because it is super quick and simple to make.  There are only five ingredients: matzo crackers, butter, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and whatever you choose to top it with– shredded coconut, crushed peppermint candies, toasted sesame seeds, dried cranberries, or in this case, sea salt.

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After laying out matzo crackers on a foil-lined baking sheet you make caramel in a saucepan by heating up butter and brown sugar over medium-high heat until it gets all thick and gooey.

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Then you spread the caramel over the matzo crackers and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes until it gets bubbly.

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Scatter semi-sweet (it would be good with dark chocolate too!) chocolate chips over the hot caramel and let sit for 5 minutes so that the chocolate melts.

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Then spread the chocolate around with a spatula and finally sprinkle with sea salt (or topping of choice) and let cool and harden.

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The final step is to break up the toffee into pieces to serve and watch it disappear.  Hopefully not all into your mouth but I totally wouldn’t judge if it did…

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Matzo Toffee (adapted from recipe by Zoe Bakes found at www.lhj.com)

  • 6  unsalted matzo crackers cup
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  •  Sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with greased foil and arrange crackers in an even layer.

In a saucepan, make caramel by heating the butter and sugar over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until sugar dissolved and mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 min. Pour caramel over crackers, using a spatula to spread in an even layer. Bake until caramel is bubbly, 15 min. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top; let chocolate sit for 5 min, then spread evenly over crackers. Sprinkle surface with sea salt and chill to set chocolate.

Transfer to a cutting board and peel away foil before cutting into strips. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

a monster of a cookie

Holiday baking is the best but it’s definitely more fun when it’s a shared experience, so I invited a friend and her 5-year-old daughter over to help me last weekend.  Little Sofia was a major help in the kitchen.  She deftly crushed the peppermint candies for the Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies, she almost mastered separating egg whites from the yolks on her first try (not easy!), and she is an expert stirrer as demonstrated below.  She even came with her own apron!  Love it. 12.8.12 006

One of the cookies we made were monster cookies from a recipe by the guys who run Baked in Brooklyn.  Monster cookies are basically everything you could ever want in a cookie all rolled into one: peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and M&M’s.  A few years ago I made them with another friend and we experimented with pretzel pieces and marshmallows as well and both were nice additions.  You should be able to have a little fun with recipes.  Go nuts!  (I did not intend for the pun but while on the subject I will say I’m not a fan of nuts in most desserts but those would certainly be a nice addition too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

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The resulting cookie almost feels like it’s good for you– at least that’s how I justified it as breakfast more than one morning this week… The recipe makes a lot of cookies so it’s a great one if you are participating in a cookie swap or giving them away in care packages.  They also freeze well if you want to make them now and save them for later.  Enjoy!

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Monster Cookies (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the oats and whisk until evenly combined. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and pale in color. Add in the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to incorporate the egg fully before adding in the next one. Add in the corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Scrape down the bowl and add in the peanut butter. Mix gradually until just combined. Very carefully add in your oat mixture in three separate additions, so you don’t overload your mixer. Mix until just incorporated (don’t overmix).

Fold in your chocolate chips and M&Ms. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. This is important for the texture of your cookies.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls the size of 2 tablespoons and place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pans once through the baking time. The cookies are ready when they are set and golden. Let the cookies cool completely for 8-10 minutes on the baking sheets before removing them and placing them on a new surface to cool completely. These can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3 days.

double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

It’s that time of year again– time to bake Holiday cookies and try to share more of the resulting treats than you eat yourself.  I’m not doing so well on the latter part but I guess that is just a testament to how good they turned out… right?  I’m going with it.

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I’m not normally a fan of peppermint-flavored things but this recipe sounded so darn good I decided to give it a try.  And am I glad I did!  The first step is to melt down some bittersweet chocolate chips in a metal bowl over a simmering pot of water on your stove.

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Some of the melted chocolate gets mixed in with the batter which has a teaspoon of espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor.  It totally works.  In addition to the melted chocolate you also mix some of the (whole unmelted) bittersweet chocolate chips in with the dough which also has cocoa powder in it so these could probably be called Triple Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies.

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The crunch part comes in with crushed peppermint candies being sprinkled on top after the cookies have baked and you’ve drizzled a little of the leftover melted chocolate on them.  The dough also has a little peppermint extract in it to really bring the mint-chocolate combo home.  The cookies are fudge-y which makes for a great texture with the peppermint candies.  No wonder I had a hard time resisting sampling a few…

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Check back in later this week for another cookie recipe, this time involving peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate, aka all things good.

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)
  • 2 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao; 15 to 16 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 candy canes or 16 red-and-white- striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir 2 cups chocolate chips in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Measure 2/3 cup melted chocolate; transfer to small metal bowl and reserve for drizzling.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and both extracts; beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat in melted chocolate from medium bowl. Add dry ingredients; beat just to blend. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Measure 1 level tablespoonful dough; roll dough between palms to form ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked all over and tester inserted into center comes out with large moist crumbs attached, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to racks to cool completely.

Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup chocolate over small saucepan of simmering water. Using fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over, arranging some pieces with red parts showing. Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Store airtight in freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.