Monday, December 15, 2008


It was a delight for me when I realised that Americans really do exchange cookies with friends and neighbours at this time of the year. I had always witnessed the great cookie giving in various Christmas movies, and here I was witnessing it first hand.

People will bake up huge batches of cookies, usually 6 dozen at a time and distribute them in the neighbourhood. It is not unusual to end up with dozens of cookies donated by friends. I think it is so nice to know that people have put in time and thought into the gift and that they are willing to share them with me. It gives me a chance to taste so many different flavours and types of cookies. Some familiar to me and some not so familiar. Some sadly hardly edible and others quite delicious. For me it is the thought and not the result that is important this time of year. It amazes me that people who never bake at any other time of the year are willing to take on the challenge of the great cookie exchange. I say go for it.

This year I was wondering what type of cookie I would throw into the ring, would it be chocolate, ginger, cranberry flavoured or just a good old fashioned vanilla cookie? In the end, whilst browsing Martha Stewart's Christmas magazine I found this year's cookie lurking on the very back page. This had to be the one. A chocolate peppermint cookie covered in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies. I was happy with my choice and I thank Martha for this recipe.

I hope my friends enjoy my contribution to the cookie exchange and know that the task was not undertaken lightly, this is one American tradition that I want to become part of my life wherever I am. And I do so want to be producing a good cookie which I will choose with care and cook with love.

1 cup all purpose flour(plain)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 oz (5tbs) unsalted softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
8 candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2ils white chocolate roughly chopped

Preheat oven 325f(175c)
sift flour, cocoa powder,baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar in mixer on medium speed for 1 min, lower speed and add the egg then yolk beating well after each addition.
Beat in extract and then slowly add flour mixture until just incorporated. Shape into disc, it is a soft mixture, and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days.

Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8th" thickness. I used a 1 1/2" cutter to cut out cookies but you could use 2".
Place on parchment lined baking trays and put in freezer for 15 mins.

Bake for 12 mins, until cookies are dry to the touch. They may need an extra minute or two depending on your oven. Transfer cookies on parchment to wire trays to cool. Undecorated they will keep for 3 days.

Melt chocolate. Using a fork dip cookies into pan and let excess drip off before putting on parchment pepper to set. Sprinkle top with crushed candies. You can do some with large pieces and some with finely crushed. Refrigerate until set.

I packaged them up decorated with candy canes and now all that is left to do is deliver them. A COOKIE CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL

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