When you’re sitting there in the middle of the early-November holiday wasteland, where all you want is for it to be Christmastime, but you’ve still got an entire month before you can even scratch Thanksgiving off the list, you can fall prey to things that wouldn’t normally entice you. Like, say, pre-crushed peppermint from Bakers Catalog. We are not normally especially pepperminty people, but how could we resist? Of course, as soon as we had a bag (or two) of peppermint just sitting around waiting to find cookies to adorn, we were on the hunt for recipes to use it up.
Our first contender* was “Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crackles” from Bon Appetit. Thanks to the peppermint being pre-crushed, this recipe was insanely simple, and yielded cookies so utterly delicious, so cakey and not-too-sweet-chocolatey, so hint-of-peppermint perfect that we’re almost ready to close the field and declare them the winner straight out of the gate. Sure, we haven’t tried any other recipes for our peppermint, but we highly doubt there’s anything that can top these.
–8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
–1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
–1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
–1/2 cup finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
–6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
–3 large eggs
–2 teaspoons vanilla extract
–1 teaspoon peppermint extract
–1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
–3/4 teaspoon baking powder
–1/4 teaspoon salt
–1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
–Coarsely crushed peppermints
Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolates melt and mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat. Mix in finely crushed mints and 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Whisk eggs into chocolate mixture, 1 at a time, then whisk in vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl to blend. Whisk flour mixture, then chocolate chips into chocolate mixture. Cover batter and chill until firm enough to shape, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 generous tablespoonful for each cookie, roll dough between moistened palms into 1 1/4-inch-diameter balls, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked on top but still soft to touch in center, about 11 minutes. Let stand on sheets 5 minutes. Press coarsely crushed mints onto tops of cookies or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Transfer to racks; cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper in refrigerator.)
(*To be fair, we did try the peppermint on cupcakes, but that was in a kit from Bakers Catalog that included the peppermint. So that doesn’t really count, because it was all bundled up for us ahead of time. [Also, it should be noted that when you sprinkle peppermint pieces onto the frosting on a cupcake and then put the cupcakes in a cake dome, the peppermint melts. We… didn’t realize that would happen. And consequently, our cupcakes weren’t ready for their close-up when we would have been posting about them here.])