I’m gonna admit something that could get me into lots of trouble–the holiday season can stress me out. I feel like I’m being pulled in 10 million directions, and as my kids have gotten older, it’s only gotten worse; believe it or not, the kindergarten kids, which include my daughter, will be going to see The Polar Express (hello, creepiest movie EVER) in the movie theater followed by lunch at Outback. 100 5-year-olds. At Outback. The idea of it makes me want a tranquilizer. My son’s Christmas field trip is probably even more elaborate, but at least it’s educational. Throw in dance recitals, church parties, work parties, friend parties, birthday parties, shopping, wrapping, gifting, an elf named Ralphie with a penchant for mischief, and trying to teach my kids what we believe to be the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of it all and my head hurts.

But in the midst of it all, I love to bake. And not baking neighbor goodies (actually, if you really wanna know the truth, our friends and neighbors don’t get baked goodies, they get laundry detergent), but fun baking. Therapy baking. There’s something magical about the weather being yucky and cranking up the Christmas music and the smell of chocolate and peppermint and almond.

McCormick was kind enough to send us some goodies to help us out with our holiday baking. And today, we’re teaming up with one of our very favorite blogging friends, Barbara from Barbara Bakes. She’s posting one of our recipes today (head over there to see which one!) and we’re posting one of hers. And it’s so good.

I have another confession (I’m full of dirty secrets today). First, you know how all the cool kids like bittersweet chocolate? I like sweet chocolate. I do. I think European milk chocolate is heaven on Earth. I like semi-sweet chocolate, but really, truly, when I’m standing in the kitchen all alone and there’s an open bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and an open bag of milk chocolate chips, I’ll grab a handful of the milk chocolate chips.

The original version of this recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, but I used semi-sweet and it was perfect (for me; I do think milk chocolate would be too much here). I also more peppermint because when it comes to chocolate and peppermint, I have pretty much no restraint or sense of propriety.

You’ll need all-purpose flour, salt (omit if you use salted butter), baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, butter, eggs (you’ll only need 3…the OCD-ness in me had to fill up the egg holder), and bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used Ghirradelli semisweet chocolate chips).

You’ll also need vanilla and peppermint extracts.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Spray a mini muffin tin with spray with cooking spray.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and the beater. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until blended after each addition, about 30 seconds, and adding the vanilla and peppermint extract along with the last egg. Continue mixing on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and mix until just blended, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until well blended, about 1 minute.

Using a mini ice cream scoop or spoon,

drop a tablespoon of dough into each cup of prepared mini muffin tins.


Fill the muffin cups only about 2/3 full. Clearly, you can see that I’m a jerkface and went rogue and filled them more than 2/3 full. They would have been easier to remove from the pan if I had followed the directions, but it also wasn’t catastrophic.

Bake, one tin at a time, until the cookies are puffed and the tops are cracked, 11 to 15 minutes. Be sure not to overbake or they’ll be dry and crumbly. When the cookies are just out of the oven, use the end of a thick-handled wooden spoon to make a small, deep well in the center of each cookie. Let the cookies sit on the muffin tin for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. (At this point, you can fill the cookies immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month before filling.)

Now, this is just where I went off the grid. Stopped following directions. It’s a disease. To make the filling, combine the ganache ingredients in a small bowl and melt in 30 second increments, stirring well each time, until the chocolate is melted and can be completely incorporated into the cream. Allow to stand for a few minutes to thicken. Transfer to a heavy-duty Ziploc bag or a cake decorating bag. Snip off a small corner and carefully fill the wells in the cookies.

Allow to stand for at least an hour to allow the filling to firm up a little. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

 

We partnered with McCormick for this post, but any opinions are completely our own.

 

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53comments

  1. 1
    Ali says:

    Mmmm…I love chocolate and mint together I think we’ll have to try these

  2. 2
    Heather says:

    Sounds awesome, and not too tricky! I think I will make these :) I’m sure, however, that I”ll have to run to the store. I only have Mint Extract, as opposed to Peppermint, and I bet it would make me sad if I used Mint in these cookies, right? Thanks for another great one!

  3. 3
    Hayley says:

    Oh my gosh, I’m so happy to hear someone else thinks the Polar Express is creepy!!! Seems like everyone know thinks its one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made! All of the people are Tom Hanks, which is weird, and all of the kids have the creepiest faces ever! At least the music is good :)

    • 3.1
      Maria W says:

      It was animated by an Asian company, which kinda explains some the weird look of the characters ;)

  4. 4

    Love me some Barbara!!! So glad to see one of her recipes here and your brownies on her site look wonderful. And I concur about that Polar Express. Weird!

  5. 5
    carrian says:

    These look wonderful!! Love Barbara, she’s the best

  6. 6
    Daisha says:

    Yeah, watched Polar Express last night . . . not a fan. The conductor is so mean and it’s such a dark movie. Santa isn’t happy and jolly at all either. These treats look amazing. I’m with you – milk chocolate all the way! Merry Christmas!

  7. 7
    Alesia says:

    I just have to ask…laundry detergent? That’s not a neighbor gift I’ve heard of before, and I must admit I’m curious. And I, too, hate the movie Polar Express. Totally ruined one of the best books of all time.

  8. 8
    Melanie says:

    Will have to try these but I’ll use paper liners – cleaning mini muffin tins is pure torture!!!!!

  9. 9
    Gaylene says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one that gets stressed at Christmas! Your post made me laugh! Thanks so much!:)

  10. 10

    Oh, sweet mother of chocolate…I think we have a winner. Hey, don’t forget to dab some peppermint on your temples while you’ve got it out, to magnify the anti-creepiness:

    “Studies at the Sense of Smell Institute confirm that peppermint oil has mood-elevating properties that make it useful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can help to boost your mood and relieve feelings of sadness as well as enhance mental performance and feelings of happiness.”

    Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/132829-benefits-peppermint-aromatherapy/#ixzz2EPPKjB8b

  11. 11
    Julia says:

    Can I use peppermint oil instead of peppermint extract? I know it’s stronger, how much should I use? Is there a standard ratio?
    Thanks,
    Julia

  12. 12
    Erin R. says:

    Argh! When did milk chocolate become lowbrow? I love chocolate in all its forms, so it bugs me when people sneer at the glorious, creamy, sweet milk chocolate. (Looking at YOU, husband.) High five for championing the cause. These cookies look wonderful.

  13. 13
    melissa says:

    Does the ganache ever thicken? I made it as directed and it’s so thin–should I add more chocolate chips to thicken it?

    • 13.1

      It should be about as thick as chocolate syrup (maybe a bit thicker) and then it will thicken up as it sits. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl–it will seem like all the chocolate has been incorporated and seem really thin and then all of a sudden, it’s the right consistency.

  14. 14
    Robin B. says:

    That is too funny. My kids named our elf Ralphie, too, and I don’t know why. And how is it that it’s now the cool thing to make him do crazy stuff when he is supposedly making sure the kids are being good?? But we do get into it. Last night I forgot and luckily woke up before my kids so he hurried and rode the gingerbread train. If you have good ideas, share them! :) The night before that he was on our couch under a doll blanket with a sleep mask cut out of craft foam.

  15. 15
    AnnieK says:

    I am sorry…exactly WHY do you think Polar Express is “the creepiest movie ever”????? I am unsubscribing from you now. Get a grip.

    • 15.1
      MaggiePie says:

      Unsubscribing and telling someone to get a grip over a difference in opinion about a children’s movie? Pot, meet kettle.

    • 15.2
      Jenelle says:

      Is that all you got from this post? How long have you been reading this blog? Get a grip.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Heidi hatch says:

    So sorry for people leaving unbecoming comments! You have every right to share your opinions and not be judged. Now, to show I am a dork, in one picture you used the muffin tin to cook the cookies and one you used a cookie sheet. Does it matter which one? Or will it just be a difference in cookie shape?

    • 17.1

      Thanks, Heidi. :) those are actually the tops of the cookies in the muffin tins. Go check out Barbara’s site for baking times on a cookie sheet because she did it both ways. :)

      • Heidi hatch says:

        Thank you so much! I didn’t clue into that being the muffing tin and not a cookie sheet. Ü

        • Amy says:

          Ha! Thank you, I was reading the comments specifically because I was wondering the exact same thing. Well that and to learn about creepy zombie eyes, but that goes without saying. ;)

          • Diane says:

            I thought they were cookies at first, too. Then I realized they had just spread over the tops of the muffin cups. And for the record, I couldn’t even finish the movie because I disliked it so much. I don’t remember the creepy zombie eyes, I just remember I thought it completely ruined the book and took the magic away from it.

          • Diane says:

            And I have to watch it tonight at a party with our friends and their kids……….

  18. 18
    Linda says:

    I just made these last night. Someone mentioned muffin tins being hard to get the muffins out. I have found the silicone ones work great. I’m not a huge fan of silicone-I still have things stick in all but the smaller baking types of cakes or muffins but the mini muffin ones are great. You can push out the cookies instead of digging them out or banging them out.

    Back to the recipe. Looks and smells wonderful. I took your advice and used my smallest cookie scoop which I think is 1 1/2 T or so. I was able to get 21 more with that size and they are a nice size cookie. So, 59 all total. Not bad! I thought the same about the ganache–seemed thinner than I thought it should be even after putting it in a cold place to thicken more. I used a squirt bottle since it was still pretty liquid and that worked great. It has firmed up but feels a little tacky when touched. I guess if it was any firmer it would take away the effect of soft cookie and soft filling. I also added a sprinkle of some new peppermint candy cane sprinkles to the top before the ganache firmed to help those stick. They look a little more festive and get another hit of peppermint.

    Thanks for a great recipe. It was very easy to make and produced a lot of cookies for a group. Can’t wait to deliver them to my librarians in a few hours!

  19. 19
    Patti says:

    When I first looked at the picture, it looked like there was a Junior Mint on the top of the cookie. They have those peppermint ones out, but I don’t like them- they are too gritty. But a regular one might be something to experiment with instead of the ganache. Is AnnieK’s aka actually Big Debbie? Just wondering :-) I agree, Polar Express is creepy. After reading your link, now I know why!

    • 19.1
      Patti says:

      I promise I had NOT read Barbara’s post before I said these looked like a Junior Mint. I guess she and I think alike.

  20. 20
    Tiffany K says:

    Do you think almond extract would work for this? My husband and son both despise mint, so I have to get my fix away from home. I don’t think it would be wise to eat the whole batch with my 20 month old. haha

  21. 21
    Linda says:

    Follow up after delivering to the librarians: these were a huge hit. So much so that one of the librarians emailed me asking me for the recipe site. I happily obliged. I love sharing your site with friends and coworkers. I’m thinking of making them again this week for my office. I always say the request of the recipe is a sure sign the treat was well liked. A keeper recipe for sure!

  22. 22

    I love this idea of you 2 doing a virtual swap! This cookie looks fantastic :)

  23. 23
    Miriam says:

    I made these last night with my daughter. Given that we don’t care for peppermint, we just left it out. So they are super chocolatey and DELICIOUS!!

  24. 24
    Luz says:

    So, from your post/comments your husband has a job, your kids get to take really nice field trips, and you get special time with your kinder kid at a movie and out to lunch? Our kids’ school never takes field trips that elaborate because of budget cuts, but I would love to not have to pack lunches for a field trip and do something that “relaxing” for a change. I get that the holidays are stressful, for everyone, but it seems you have a lot to be thankful for.

    • 24.1

      It’s true, I’m very blessed and there have been times in the not-so-recent past when things were harder. And I’m very thankful for those things. But, to paraphrase one of my favorite quotes, I think it’s very easy to let the good things pile up in our lives and squeeze out the most essential things. At the end of the day, I hope my kids have happy, magical memories of Christmas and that they understand why we celebrate it. If all my kids remember is that we did so much stuff that it all runs together, or that we never had a quiet night at home playing games and eating popcorn, then I haven’t done what I believe my job to be.

    • 24.2
      Emily says:

      I just wanted to comment – A field trip? Relaxing? As a teacher, I can tell you that while my students LOVE field trips (they get one a year, at most) they are one of the most exhausting days of the year for me a teacher. I love my job and am very thankful for it, but those “relaxing” trips leave me craving a nap.

      Regarding the recipe – I just made something similar for a holiday party last night – huge hit! Love chocolate and peppermint!

  25. 25
    Janell says:

    Wow…people are so quick to judge on here. Hilarious that someone is so offended over an opinion of a movie. And just because someone mentions stress, doesn’t mean they aren’t thankful for what they have! I have a great life myself, but it doesn’t mean that little things don’t get hard, or that I’m ungrateful for what I have. Seriously, people, stop reading so much into stuff. Think of how it would be for you to open yourself up to thousands of ridiculously judgmental people on a blog like this.

    Now…ahem. After my tangent. These look delish! Milk chocolate is awesome. And I would gladly take all that laundry detergent off your hand if it’s ever in the way. I’m super thoughtful like that. ;) And THANK you for all that you do – you are so amazing and I love you and your beautiful blog!

  26. 26
    Rachel says:

    If any of my neighbors gave me laundry detergent for Christmas, I might just give them a great big hug! It’s one of those things I am a little particular about but hate spending money on. Like toilet paper. Now that would be a totally acceptable Christmas present. ;)
    I love the cookies in a muffin tin! How fun! We love chocolate here, and love to watch Polar Express solely for the “Hot Chocolate” song! (There are definitely some creepy aspects, though!)

  27. 27
    Thesha says:

    These look delicious! Thanks for the great recipe.

  28. 28

    Jeez, some testy people around here lately! Kate, the cookies look AMAZING. I mean, most of the things on this blog look amazing, but I immediately ran out and got the ingredients I was missing to make these cookies. Tomorrow I will finish my last final for what should be my very last college class and I intend to celebrate after by baking these!

  29. 29
    Michelle Ratto says:

    Do you guys always get so many rude comments or is this post an exception? Maybe everyone’s a little stressed out from the holidays! I never knew why the polar express characters looked so weird, that link was very interesting. It’s too bad, because I do love the hot chocolate song. And my kids kind of like it, which means I’ve seen it a lot more than I’d like.
    Hoping to try these cookies soon.

  30. 30

    I made these and even my peppermint disliking husband enjoyed them! Really yummy. My only change was to use 2/3 C chocolate chips instead of 1/2 C because I was afraid the filling would be too runny. As is, the filling is just solid enough not to drip out everywhere. YUM. Kate, did yours turn out like cookies or brownies? Mine are definitely teeny tiny brownies and not cookies. Whatever you want to call them though, they are good!

  31. 31
    EJ says:

    My cookies were only allowed to stand for 10 minutes before they were devoured and were still yummy ;)
    Also, I had a heck of a time getting the first batch out of the mini muffin tins, no idea why they stuck so badly … But the 2nd batch I did just as cookies on a parchment-lined pan and they were equally delicious, just not quite as cute! Definitely worth remaking!

  32. 32
    CF says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say I absolutely love these cookies. I just made them tonight and I’m planning to give them to friends on Dec 24th (which is technically 4.5 days from now!) Do you think they will keep that long? I just noticed your comment about keeping up to 3 days. Will they just not be as fresh, or will they go bad? I really don’t want all this deliciousness to go to waste :) Thanks in advance.

  33. 33
    Diane says:

    Wow, now I know what you meant when you said people can be so rude and these comments probably aren’t the half of it! So, I just made these cookies and the batter looked gorgeous. About a minute before I took them out of the oven I was cleaning up the counter and guess what I found? My small bowl of flour mixture that was NOT mixed into the other ingredients. Seriously? I am so very irritated right now! The cookies did what I thought they would and fell into a crumbly mess. They taste okay and I think I’ll end up using them as an ice cream topping or something. I mixed about half the flour mixture into the remaining batter, so I hope the proportions are right. I was supposed to take these to a party tonight. Good thing I have other stuff, too. I haven’t had a kitchen disaster in awhile, so I guess it was my turn! Ugh.

  34. 34
    Asia says:

    So I’m pretty disappointed with these… I used a non stick mini muffin tin with cooking spray and these STUCK LIKE GLUE. Impossible to get out in one piece. So I just wasted half a batch of cookie dough, they’re in a big pile of crumbs.

  35. 35
    Linda says:

    I made these two times (may still make a 3rd time before the season is gone) and both times they were a HUGE hit. I will say again the best is getting silicone mini muffin pans. They will release so much easier–even still slightly warm to bake more (since I did mine roughly 2 t. to a cookie). The filling is thin but it will firm up if allowed to cool enough. Right now weather is making the garage a great cooler for firming bars and cookies like these. I took a batch to a Christmas Eve Open House and people were carrying them around by 2-3 cookies and barely let me get in the door before they checked out what I brought. It’s great if you have peppermint decorating chips for the top–really makes them pretty as well as tasty. Definitely a keeper and easy to put together. I usually have enough of the filling to save it and use it for other purposes even making as many cookies as I manage with the small size. GREAT recipe.

  36. 36
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! I can now cross teacher and visiting teaching treats off of my list :)

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