Friday, December 19, 2014

Mint Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies



Isn't it interesting how every language has at least a few words that defy translation? (Like "fun" or "bromance" in English.) Recently I read this article about the Danish concept of "hygge"  ("HYU-gah"), a tough-to-pin-down notion of coziness, well-being, or togetherness. It seems that any experience that evokes these feelings of comfort--coming home to a warm house on a cold night, savoring a candlelit dinner, snuggling in a cozy sweater--qualifies as hygge. In other words, hygge is the feeling of Christmas. The article theorizes that Danes' cultural emphasis on this concept is a key factor in its consistently ranking as the happiest country on earth.

One of my favorite hygge-inducing activities at Christmastime is baking. I have happy memories of making spritz cookies with my mom every year using this contraption that looks more like an instrument of torture than a baking tool. 


Baking for my loved ones, knowing I'm providing them with a special treat at Christmastime, continues to be a joy for me during the holiday season. So when I manage to pull off a really delicious, visually appealing confection like these mint chocolate candy cane cookies, I'm a happy Christmas camper. These require a little extra effort than the standard mix-and-bake drop cookies, but the presentation (and the taste) are worth it! I made a batch and froze it a few weeks ago and our family is still enjoying them one by one out of the freezer--I think we may even like them better cold. Something about the mint flavor's inherent chilliness just makes it work.


Wishing you a very merry Christmas filled with whatever brings you hygge! 

Fresh out of the oven!

Mint Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
(Base recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com/inspired by Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 c. crushed candy cane

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until blended. Mix in 1 c. mini chocolate chips. Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet.

3. Bake 10-11 minutes or until just set. Cool 10 minutes.

4. In a small bowl, microwave remaining 1 c. mini chocolate chips at 20 second intervals until melted. Pour melted chocolate into a squeeze bottle and drizzle in a zig-zag pattern over cookie tops. (Alternatively, if you don't have a squeeze bottle, dredge a fork through the melted chocolate and drizzle over cookies that way.) Sprinkle with crushed candy cane. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.

Makes 3-4 dozen. 


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