I've been baking up a storm today and, I have to say, there's something really gratifying about being so productive and seeing so many treats emerge from my kitchen in one day. The first thing I made today came from the December issue of Bon Appetit. Somehow I'd convinced myself not to buy this issue after picking up a ton of other baking magazines this holiday season but just the other day I was lucky enough to snag a copy from my library. As I flipped through, this recipe stood out a potential crowd pleaser. It's also fairly simple to put together and can be made up to a week in advance which are nice bonuses.
These cookies did not disappoint. The buttery shortbread base was wonderful with the bittersweet chocolate on top and the crushed candy canes couldn't be more festive. I'm definitely looking forward to sharing these with friends and family!
A few quick tips on the recipe:
- The shortbread base is a bit tricky to press over the bottom of the pan. I found it easiest to use a combination of moist fingertips (as the recipe suggests) and a sheet of parchment paper.
- You don't want to use white chocolate chips for the topping - they do not melt well (as I learned from experience recently). I used a Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bar, which tastes better than the chips yet isn't too expensive. I've found the baking bars on sale at my local grocery stores this month for just over $2.
- This may go without saying, but use a sharp knife to cut the cookies. Mine were far less crumbly after I switched to my sharpest knife. I also chilled them in the fridge for about an hour after drizzling with the white chocolate, which helped.
Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
from Bon Appetit, December 2009 (also available via Epicurious)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red-and-white striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both short sides of the pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.
Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over the top. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies/candy canes over.
Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst.) Transfer the chocolate to a resealable plastic bag, snip a corner and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Chill until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Using the parchment overhang, lift the cookies from pan and transfer to work surface. Using a large knife, cut the cookies into irregular pieces.
The cookies can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator in airtight containers.