Chocolate Peppermint Thins

Happy 2015! I can’t believe it’s January again. This was an incredibly fast year. I think this is mostly because at school the days and weeks seem to blend together to the point where a new unit of time is created. I have no idea what I ate for dinner two days before, let alone who I was with or what we spoke about or which paper I worked on that night. It’s just “school-time”. Classes seem long, but semesters end unbelievably quickly, leaving me feeling bewildered about whether I’ve actually done anything concrete in the previous months. Yet, time seems smooth there. It’s very different when I come back home. Every corner, cafe, and movie theatre presents itself not in its current place in time and space, but where it existed a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. Flashes of conversations come back so vividly it’s really quite frightening. Everything I do (brown garlic for my favorite dinner, walk down the street hoping for snow, drink a gin and tonic) I’ve done before. And I can’t decide if it was better then or now.

I’ve always been that person who needs to know exactly what is coming. I make to-do lists. I plan for things. I write blog posts talking about what I’ve “learned” from the careful plans I’ve made. I very easily could continue along that carefully laid out path this year, but I didn’t apply to grad school, as I originally considered. It’s not because I’m lazy, I swear! I think I really just need to take a break from planning for everything. Embrace the come-what-may, as it were. Maybe it’ll work out terribly and I’ll go right back to planning everything out, and that’s okay. But in the meantime, I will spend the afternoon making cookies and not working on costume sketches like I originally planned, and everything will be fine. In fact, I’ll enjoy it!

Cookies (from the New York Times)

1 c + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
½ tsp kosher salt
1 egg
1 tsp peppermint extract (or if you’re me and went looking for the #1 holiday flavoring on Dec. 23, only to find the rest of the world bought every single bottle of peppermint extract in the tri-state area, peppermint flavor works too)
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Coating

About 16 oz bittersweet chocolate
¼ – ½ tsp peppermint extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
8 to 12 candy canes
¼ – ½ c cocoa nibs

Cream sugar and butter together in a mixer until fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add salt, egg, peppermint extract and 1 tablespoon water, and mix until smooth. Mix flour and cocoa together, then add to the batter and mix until combined. The dough will be very stiff (and in my opinion it was easier to work with after being left in the fridge for a day to get even stiffer). Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each ball into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Dust the bottom of the glass with cocoa powder every three cookies or so (which may give the impression that your cookies have burned when they come out of the oven, but this is a trick! don’t buy into it! they’re just fine!) Bake about 15 minutes until the cookies are firm and beginning to crisp. Remove from cookie sheets and let cool on wire racks. Don’t throw away the parchment paper.

When the cookies have cooled completely (several hours or overnight), make the coating. Place the candy canes in a thick freezer bag and use a rolling pin to get out all aggression pulverize them into a mixture of candy-cane dust and little red-and-white bits. Set aside in a cool place. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water. When smooth, stir in ¼ teaspoon of each extract and the coconut oil. Taste and add more peppermint extract if needed. Keep chocolate warm over the hot water.

The Times recipe recommends fully submerging each cookie one at a time in the chocolate, but when I realized I had 5 dozen cookies and a solid seven minutes yielded three finished cookies, I changed the plan. Place the cookies (still on wire racks) on top of the parchment-covered baking trays. Situate near the warm chocolate. Working one line of cookies at a time, drop tablespoonfuls of chocolate onto the cookies and then smooth flat with an offset spatula. Repeat. After about 15 minutes, when the chocolate has mostly set, sprinkle cookies with candy cane bits and cocoa nibs. Store in the fridge in airtight containers, in layers separated by parchment paper. Try to only eat four at a time.



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