Peppermint Meltaways

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There’s nothing like getting in the Christmas spirit. Yet somehow, every year I find myself wishing we could add on an extra week to the beginning of December. Between shopping for presents, decorating the house, attending holiday parties, and baking cookies—its seems as though there is never enough time! Although I do a TON of baking in December, I’m never able to post all the goodies I make. This year I decided to share one of my favorite recipes that I’ve made several times.

I made these peppermint meltaway cookies for a holiday party that Matthew and I had at our apartment. Let’s talk about these cookies a little bit… the addition of cornstarch makes for an incredibly delicate and flaky cookie. They truly do melt in your mouth! The addition of peppermint in both the dough and frosting makes these little morsels a true delight. I like to create fairly small cookies with the dough so you can just pop one into your mouth!

I’ll be signing off of Sweet Precision until the New Year so I hope that everyone has a truly special holiday season with family, friends, and loved ones.

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Peppermint Meltaways
Recipe from Taste of Home

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

Frosting Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions
In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. In another bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in milk, extract and, if desired, food coloring. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread or pipe over cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies. Store in an airtight container.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before shaping the cookies into balls. This will help them retain their shape and prevent spreading in the oven. Add the milk to your frosting last and incorporate one teaspoon at a time. This way you can determine how “stiff” you want your frosting. I like mine to be a little less runny, which helps when piping onto the cookies.

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Peppermint Meltaways

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Last weekend Matt and I traveled to Minnesota for our annual family weekend “up north” on the Gunflint Trail. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the area, the Gunflint Trail is a 57-mile roadway that begins in Grand Marais, Minnesota and ends at Saganaga Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, near the U.S. border with Ontario, Canada. The weather during our stay was chilly to say the least. On Saturday the high was a balmy negative three degrees.

The weekend was the perfect get-away amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We managed to keep ourselves busy making wreaths, singing Christmas carols, hiking in the woods, and gorging ourselves on walleye chowder. Since our cabin was outfitted with an oven, I took the opportunity to do some baking. These peppermint meltaways really do melt in your mouth. The little morsels also look very festive and would be perfect displayed on a cookie platter.

Peppermint Meltaways
Makes approximately 3 dozen

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Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

Frosting Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions
In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, extract and, if desired, food coloring; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies. Store in an airtight container.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Always use unsalted butter for balanced flavor in your baked goods. Unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in the cookies. Although salt is a flavor enhancer, the flavor can be overpowering in a delicately flavored cookie.

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The Seventh Day of Christmas: Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

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I have a secret to share with you. I still write letters to Santa Claus… every Christmas.

It’s almost more like a confession. Usually in these instances I would ask you to suspend judgment, but its okay today, you can judge me. I’m a 28 year old working professional with a college degree, and every Christmas Eve I sit down and write a letter to Santa Claus. The truth can’t be denied, I have the letter I wrote last year as proof.

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I have a second secret to share with you. Santa Claus writes me back… every Christmas. Again, I provide proof of this phenomenon by sharing the response letter he wrote back to me in 2011. At our house, Santa is always very clever writing letters backwards and in the wrong direction—he’s tricky like that. IMG_0422

Aside from creating a fairly persuasive argument for the fact that I’m completely crazy (which is exactly what my boyfriend thought when I shared this tradition with him on one of our first dates), I wanted to post these letters to show that you can never take yourself too seriously—no matter how old you are. Whether you’re 28 like me, or a wide-eyed 4 year-old sitting in Santa’s lap—why not have a little fun during the holiday season? What would you write to Santa in your letter for 2012? Now as to Santa responding to your letter, I can’t help you with that one…

One of the biggest choices on Christmas Eve can be selecting the best cookies to leave out for Santa. These cookies are packed with everything you (and Santa) could hope to enjoy in a cookie. Chocolate… more chocolate… peppermint… pecans…. seriously, they are completely delectable. Enjoy giving these guys a shot for Santa’s cookie plate!

Day Seven: Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
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Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 cups plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (10 ounces) Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips
1-4 ounce bar of semi-sweet chocolate, chunked
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan melt butter with coffee granules over low heat until granules are completely dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let cool to about room temperature.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter mixture, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in the flour mixture 1/3 at a time, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in peppermint crunch baking chips, chocolate chunks and nuts.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Butter should never be melted on high heat. High heat causes the milk solids to separate out and can burn the butter. Watch butter carefully when melting and remove it from the heat when it’s about three-quarters melted, then stir until it’s completely melted.

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