Friday, December 21, 2012

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

The baking season has begun! The Holiday season is the one time of the year where baking is really celebrated. Clearly, it is one of my favorite times of the year. I love getting into the Holiday spirit, and making all kinds of goodies. There are few things I love better than baking up a storm in my kitchen, and having the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg permeate throughout my house.  

I felt that cookies were a must. I knew I wanted to feature a peppermint cookie recipe, but it took me a while to find the perfect one. These cookies are amazing! They have the perfect peppermint taste, without giving off an overwhelming flavor. The secret to these cookies is the Candy Cane pudding mix. It is actually a difficult product to find. I had to special order mine, at my local grocery store. Although it may take a little effort to track it down, I highly suggest you do. The cookies are REALLY that good. I feel like they are a nod to the Jello cookies, I featured in last year's holiday post. Hope you enjoy these, and have a blessed Christmas and Holiday season. 
This recipe was adapted from: Mom's Crazy Cooking

You will need:

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package Candy Cane Pudding Mix
3/4 cup yellow, white or vanilla cake mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 package (12 oz) Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips ( you can use white chocolate chips and chopped candy cane if you cannot find these baking chips.
Red food coloring (optional) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine: flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. 

Add candy cane pudding mix and 3/4 cups of white cake mix.

In a separate bowl whisk eggs and vanilla. Add to main mixture, and blend well. 

Add dry flour mixture in several additions. Mix well between each addition. 

Add a few drops of red food coloring, then stir in 3/4 of bag of peppermint baking chips.

roll dough into one in balls (place on cookie sheet), and flatten with the bottom of a glass.
Top with additional peppermint chips. Bake for 10-12 min.
Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homemade Peppermint Patties

It is hard to believe it's that time of year again! This past year has flown by. The holiday season seems to come faster and faster, every year. We all seem to get even busier that we could have ever thought possible. With this time of the year, it seems to get even worse.  Instead of enjoying quality time with our families' we are off scurrying to find the latest gadget, that will make the "perfect gift". Working in retail, I definitely have plenty of stories about holiday gimmicks. Time is said to be one of the most valuable commodities. It is clear, in this day and age, just how very true that statement is. I know that I have no room to talk, with my crazy work schedule and college finals. We all have little things that preoccupy us, from what is really important.

This life is short, and we are all so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives. We must not lose sight of that, through all of our busyness, and hectic schedules. It is important, especially this time of the year, to take time out and cherish everything and everyone we have. We never know how long we have until it is too late. Do not let the little moments slip away.

Here is a recipe that help you take some time out, to just relax and enjoy.

Peppermint Patties:

I love making homemade candies. They are surprisingly very easy to make. I thought it would be festive to make some peppermint patties. They make great gifts, and have an instant wow factor!

You will need:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (divided) 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • pinch of salt
  • 7-10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (you can mix in a little milk chocolate to cut some of the bitterness.)
  • Optional: Mini candy canes for garnish

Adapted from: Gourmet Magazine: Epicurious Recipe

Beat together: powdered sugar, water, corn syrup, and shortening until combined.

Add peppermint extract, and a small pinch of salt.

Lightly knead it (on a work surface) using the remaining 1/4 cups of powdered sugar. Continue
until smooth.
Roll into a cylinder shape,  and cut in half. Cover with plastic wrap
and freeze for 15 minutes, or until firm.

Slice into circles and place on cookie sheet. You can coat the circles with
powdered sugar. I did not, because I live in such a dry climate.

Freeze for several hours or overnight. (This important!
Otherwise you will have the filling melt through the
chocolate when you enrobe the candy)

Optional: Lightly chop candy canes (preferably the
mini kind),  for an added crunch.

Melt chocolate. For a thinner coating (which I recommend) add a little
 shortening or vegetable oil. I'm not gonna lie, I prefer the Barefoot Contessa
chocolate tempering method. (aka: microwaving for 30 second intervals)
Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Once it is seized, there is no going back.
Stir well after each interval

To coat candy:Place each peppermint circle on a fork, and spoon chocolate over circle, until
it is completely covered. Tap off any excess chocolate. Top with a little of the crushed
 candy cane mixture, and allow to dry on a surface lined with wax paper 

Happy Holidays!