Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Peppermint Snowflakes ... and other adventures in Holiday Baking

You know what's super cruel?!? Blogging about your baking escapades when you know your co-workers read the blog, but you aren't bringing in any to share!

So, a disclaimer:  I will make more and bring them in to the radio station. I promise!

But first, we have to take care of all the teachers (23 of them?!?), especially since the new state ethics law outlaws most other types of holiday gifts.  (which, by the way, I'm okay with ... more on that on a blog post coming tomorrow).

Back to the baking. Let's be clear. I am not a baker. Jason bakes bread. From scratch. By hand. Really impressive bread like this Ethiopian Spiced Honey Bread that he helped Olivia make for her World of Food series.

I usually bake from a box. And sometimes I even screw that up (like the time I used lemon juice concentrate instead of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a poppyseed cake I made Dad for Father's Day). But, inspired by really good bakers like my friends Melanie and Erika, I'm putting "learning how to bake" at the top of the culinary resolution list for 2012.  I thought I'd get a head start by trying a little scratch baking this holiday.  Here's the result...

Melissa d'Arabian's recipe is called "Delicate Mint Sandwich Holiday Cookies" - but I prefer "Peppermint Snowflakes".  It's punchier. And I didn't have a round cookie cutter (see!!! I'm really NOT a baker!), so I made mine into snowflake shapes.  I also doubled the recipe to it would make 24 complete sandwich cookies. The amounts below are the "doubled" amounts.

Ingredients for Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • colored sugars (green, blue, red, silver, white, whatever. I used red.)
Ingredients for Mint Filling:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (for us non-bakers, that's a.k.a. "powdered sugar")
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 4 drops mint extract
  • 4 drops red or green food coloring (I used red, but it turned out kinda pink. Which I like!)
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting, optional (I forgot this part)
For the cookies: Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer, if you're lazy like me).  Slowly add the flour until incorporated.  Scoop the dough into a ball using your hands, put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough has firmed slightly (about 30 minutes, give or take a little bit)

On a floured surface, roll the dough about 1/8-inch thick. (I resisted the urge to take out a ruler and measure the thickness. Just make sure it's all the same thickness. And it's not too thick.)  Now it's time to cut your cookies. If you've got round cookie cutters like d'Arabian's you can use them to cut cookies, then cut a smaller hole in 1/2 of the cookies. Like this:

Aren't those pretty!?! 

If you're like me, though, and you've got a limited selection of cutters, just chose one you like and start cutting! As you do, transfer the cut cookies to a baking sheet and sprinkle with colored sugars. Re-roll the dough scraps and repeat until all the dough is used. 

Bake cookies until golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

For the filling: 
Place the sugar, butter, mint extract, food coloring and 1/2 tsp water in a medium bowl and beat on medium until mixed and fluffy. Spread thin layer of filling on cooled cookies, then top with another cookie. Don't be like me! Remember to sprinkle the finished cookies with confectioners' sugar.

Enjoy! And be sure to save some to share (and please... post your favorite holiday cookie recipes below. I'd love to try them!)


  1. Oh my - you had me at peppermint.. also, you just reminded me of a box of cookies I have stashed some where.....

  2. I LOVE peppermint!!! Can't wait to try these.... I appreciate you sharing:) Nan

  3. I'm going to give these a try. Thanks for sharing!

  4. @Nicole - did you find your cookies?!? Girl Scout cookies, perchance? You know the season's coming up again real soon. Sales start the end of this month. I can hook you up!

  5. @Nan & @Nancy (that looks funny!) -- let me know what you think of them. I think I might try experimenting with different types of fillings on these. Lots of variations out there!