Choco­late pep­per­mint cook­ies al­ways a fun hol­i­day treat

Woonsocket Call - - Food - By SARA MOUL­TON

If, like me, you're a fan of dark choco­late pep­per­mint bark at Christ­mas­time, you're go­ing to love these cook­ies. Your friends and fam­ily will, too. But you'll have to plan ahead be­cause the bat­ter is so soft it needs to chill overnight be­fore scoop­ing.

The main ingredient here is 1 1/2 pounds of choco­late, which guar­an­tees an in­tensely choco­late-y fla­vor. The cookie's base is made of a com­bi­na­tion of unsweet­ened and bit­ter­sweet choco­late. Af­ter­ward, ad­di­tional chunks of the bit­ter­sweet choco­late — along with the crushed mint candy — are folded in.

The key to this recipe's suc­cess is good qual­ity bit­ter­sweet choco­late — that is, a brand that con­tains at least 60 per­cent ca­cao. The higher the per­cent­age of ca­cao in a choco­late bar, the darker and more in­tense the fla­vor. That's why we're adding chunks of choco­late in­stead of choco­late chips — bit­ter­sweet bar choco­late con­tains much more ca­cao than most chips.

Chop­ping the choco­late will take a lit­tle time. I rec­om­mend us­ing a ser­rated knife for the job. As for crush­ing the pep­per­mint can­dies, the best way is to put them in a re-seal­able plas­tic bag and then gen­tly whack away at the bag with a rolling pin. The eas­i­est way to por­tion out the bat­ter is with a 1-ounce ice-cream scoop rather than a spoon — and it'll make the size of the cook­ies more con­sis­tent, too; just dip it in hot wa­ter be­tween each scoop.

I sug­gest bak­ing a sin­gle tray of cook­ies at a time be­cause the cook­ies don't cook evenly when there's more than one tray. Fi­nally, be care­ful not to over­cook them. The cook­ies should be soft to the touch when you pull them out of the oven. That way they'll re­main nice and gooey.

As you might imag­ine, these cook­ies are de­li­cious year-round. If you de­cide to make them dur­ing a sea­son when pep­per­mint can­dies are scarce, just leave them out and add 1 1/2 ta­ble­spoons of pow­dered espresso. You will end up with out­stand­ing mocha cook­ies.

Choco­late Pep­per­mint Cook­ies

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour and 45 min­utes, plus 8 hours chill­ing time Serv­ings: Makes about 3 dozen cook­ies 1 pound bit­ter­sweet choco­late 4 ounces unsweet­ened choco­late 8 ta­ble­spoons un­salted but­ter, cut into ta­ble­spoons 4 large eggs, at room tem­per­a­ture 1 1/2 cups su­gar 2 tea­spoons vanilla ex­tract 60 grams (about 1/2 cup) all-pur­pose flour 1/2 tea­spoon bak­ing powder 1/4 tea­spoon table salt 1 cup (about 5 ounces) hard redand-white pep­per­mint can­dies

Coarsely chop one-half of the bit­ter­sweet choco­late and all of the unsweet­ened choco­late. In a medium metal bowl com­bine the coarsely chopped choco­lates and the but­ter; set the bowl over a saucepan of barely sim­mer­ing wa­ter, mak­ing sure the bot­tom of the bowl is not touch­ing the wa­ter, and melt the mix­ture, stir­ring of­ten. Re­move from the heat as soon as all of the choco­late is just melted.

Mean­while, in a medium bowl with elec­tric beat­ers (or in a stand mixer), beat the eggs and su­gar on medium speed un­til the mix­ture is very thick and pale, about 10 min­utes. Beat in the vanilla. In a small bowl sift to­gether the flour, bak­ing powder and salt.

Chop the re­main­ing bit­ter­sweet choco­late into choco­late-chip size pieces. Chop or crush the pep­per­mint can­dies into 1/4- to 1/3inch pieces.

Fold the melted choco­late mix­ture into the egg mix­ture us­ing a large rub­ber spat­ula. Add the flour mix­ture and fold it in un­til it is just in­cor­po­rated. Add the chip-size bit­ter­sweet choco­late and the pep­per­mint pieces and stir gen­tly, just un­til in­cor­po­rated. Cover and chill the mix­ture overnight.

Pre­heat the oven to 350 F. Line 3 large bak­ing sheets with parch­ment pa­per, scoop out the bat­ter into balls about 1 1/2-inches wide (the size of a wal­nut shell) and ar­range them on the bak­ing sheets, leav­ing an inch of space be­tween them. Work­ing with one sheet pan at a time, bake the cook­ies on the mid­dle shelf of the oven for 9 to 11 min­utes, un­til they are shiny on top and set around the edges but still soft to the touch on top. Let them sit on the sheet pans for 5 min­utes and then trans­fer them to a rack to cool com­pletely.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 164 calo­ries; 90 calo­ries from fat; 10 g fat (6 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 31 mg choles­terol; 32 mg sodium; 20 g car­bo­hy­drate; 2 g fiber; 14 g su­gar; 3 g pro­tein.

Sara Moul­ton via As­so­ci­ated Press

Choco­late pep­per­mint cook­ies. The main ingredient here is 1 1/2 pounds of choco­late, which guar­an­tees an in­tensely choco­late-y fla­vor. The cookie’s base is made of a com­bi­na­tion of unsweet­ened and bit­ter­sweet choco­late.

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