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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Choco-pocalypse Mint Cookies

Choco-pocalypse Mint Cookies _Lindsay Weiss

Choco-pocalypse Mint Cookies _Lindsay Weiss

Have you ever wondered how much chocolate you could pack into a cookie and still have it hold together?

(Okay, maybe that’s just me.)

After a whole lot of experimenting, I found the answer. Using three different types of chocolate plus chocolate mints, these Choco-pocalypse Mint cookies were born.

With an apocalypse of chocolate (and only 1/2 cup of flour!!), this ain’t your momma’s chocolate cookie. A deep, rich chocolate taste you can feel in your toes and then a light zing from the hint of mint. I’ve never met a better chocolate cookie.

Because these cookies are all about the chocolate, it’s important to use the best butter and best chocolate you can find. There’s nothing else to enhance the flavor so it’s all about the best ingredients!

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Choco-pocalypse Mint Cookies _Lindsay Weiss

Choco-pocalypse Mint Cookies

3 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted premium butter, cut into slices
9 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate mint candies (such as Andes mints)

Preheat to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.

Melt butter in a double-boiler (or stainless bowl set over – but not touching – simmering water). Once butter is melted, add the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside briefly.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla. Continue beating until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the cooled chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped chocolate mint candies by hand. Let dough stand for five minutes. (Dough will be rather wet.)

Using a 1 1/2-tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheets, placing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 until the cookies are just set (centers should appear underdone but will firm up upon cooling), 11 to 14 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cool right on the baking pans.

Makes about 30 cookies.

*If you don’t have superfine sugar at home, just put regular sugar in your blender or food processor and process for 15 seconds or so.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars_1_small

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars_1_small

What? Say it isn’t so. This is the last day of the Holiday Cookie Countdown!

For me, it’s bittersweet. I’m so glad to have my kitchen back. To stop serving cookies for dinner. To stop removing all the cereal from my pantry because I need extra room for all the flour and sugar. But this is an event in our household. In our neighborhood, really. During these two weeks people stop by all the time to grab a taste of what’s coming out of the oven. They overlook that the house is a mess, there are dust bunnies in every corner and my kitchen looks like an explosion. Because all I have done in the past two weeks is re-test these cookies (I started testing in June) and tweak them ’til I’m happy.

This last cookie was the hands down favorite of the series, if we’re going by majority rules. Judging by the sounds everyone made when they took a bite, I think these are pretty much amazing. A buttery shortbread crust slathered in caramel and sprinkled with sea salt? You might as well surrender right now. You will swoon over these.

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars_2_2_small

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars
You can also make your own caramel to pour on top, but you guys get frustrated with me when I make you do that. I’ve found the Trader Joe’s prepared caramel sauce is a great substitute! If you don’t have a TJ’s any good caramel sauce will do.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)
1/2 tbsp coarse salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 8×8 pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side to use as “handles” later. Lightly grease foil with butter. (Do not spray with cooking spray as I think it makes the bars a little soggy on the bottom.)

Use and electric mixer to combine sugars and butter. Beat until creamy. Add vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix on low until dough is smooth.

Press 2/3 of the dough into an even layer in the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden. Refrigerate remaining dough while crust is baking.

Once you remove crust from oven top with caramel and sprinkle with coarse salt. Take remaining dough and crumble over the top of the caramel layer – do not press or spread – leave in crumbles. Return pan to the oven & bake 25-35 minutes or until golden & filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes 12 bars.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: White Chocolate Peppermint Pops

white chocolate peppermint krispie pops 1_small

white chocolate peppermint krispie pops 1_small

I believe every holiday needs a “krispy” treat. This is my ode to Christmas in Rice Krispy form. It is made slightly cuter than the average Krispy treat because it’s cut smaller, thinner and plopped on a stick. I made these for a cookie exchange last year and they were the first thing to go. Really, these couldn’t be cuter.

And (thank goodness) they’re delicious. Crispy, sweet, peppermint-y with a smooth marshmallow finish — these are the perfect foil to all the rich chocolate cookies and fudge on your cookie table!

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

white chocolate peppermint krispie pops 2_small

White Chocolate Peppermint Krispie Pops

1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 10-ounce bags peppermint mini marshmallows
9 cups crispy rice cereal
1 package (10-ounces) Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

1 package almond bark
Crushed peppermints

Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the sides. (This will make it easier to remove from pan and cut.) Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot set over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the peppermint extract and salt. Add all of the marshmallows and stir the mixture constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted.

Remove from heat and add the cereal, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat the cereal evenly with the marshmallow mixture. Quickly stir in half of the peppermint baking chips. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan; let cool 15 minutes then press remaining peppermint baking chips in to top. (You don’t want them to melt, but still want them to stick to the bars.) Let cool for an additional 30 minutes before slicing.

Slice into rectangles and insert popsicle or large sucker sticks. Dip in melted almond bark and sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Let set completely before serving.

Makes 18 pops.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Shortcut Muddy Buddies

Muddy Buddy Cookies 1 (2)_small

Muddy Buddy Cookies 1 (2)_small

Do you call this stuff Puppy Chow or Muddy Buddies?

puppy chow

I had this argument with my girlfriend today — she’s team Muddy Buddy and I’m team Puppy Chow. For me, it’s always been Puppy Chow. Like, since I was a baby it was Puppy Chow.

But my friend was adamant that this stuff is called Muddy Buddies, and if I make a cookie inspired by it and call it something else no one will know what it is.

So, here you have it. Muddy Buddy cookies. Peanut butter, chocolate, crunch and powdered sugar — this stuff is ahhhhh-dictive. And by taking a little shortcut at the store with the peanut butter cookies, they come together quickly. Bake up some peanut butter cookies, dip them in melted chocolate, coat in powdered sugar, done!

Warning: these are a little messy, especially when your kiddos offer to “help.”

p.s. I think these are my favorite cookies of the whole series! Soooooo good.

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Muddy Buddy Cookies 2_2_small

Shortcut Muddy Buddy Cookies

Refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough (I use Pillsbury Simply Peanut Butter)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Bake peanut butter cookies according to package directions. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely.

In small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in 1-gallon Ziploc bag.

Dip one cookie into melted chocolate mixture. (If mixture is not thin enough to slide right off — seems goopy — add another tbsp or two of butter and melt again to thin.) Use a spoon to scrape the mixture off leaving a fairly thin coating.

Drop cookie into powdered sugar bag and shake to coat. Remove and set on wire rack. Repeat process with other cookies, adding additional powdered sugar to bag as needed.

Once all 12 cookies are coated, let stand until chocolate is set.

Makes 12 cookies.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Norwegian Ginger Cookies

Norwegian Ginger Cookies 1_small

Norwegian Ginger Cookies 1_small
I’m not sure what makes these soft, thick cookies Norwegian per se, except that my friend who gave me the recipe comes from a long line of Norwegians. Since I also have Norwegian blood, I know for certain that if somebody’s great-great grandma insisted these be called Norwegian cookies then we better darn well not leave that off because it meant something.

But, between you and me, if I didn’t fear my granny FaceTiming me up right now (yes, my granny can FaceTime) I’d totally call these Soft ‘n Spiced Ginger Cookies.

Pretend you never read that though. Because my granny will probably figure out a way to Facetime you too.

So, Norwegian Ginger Cookies it is.

I try to include a spice cookie each year in this series. What makes these different is that they always turn out soft (but not too soft) and thick. These cookies will not flatten out on you, and you don’t even have to refrigerate the dough first. The high flour content and 2 tsp. of baking soda guarantee you a thick, sturdy yet tender cookie. Perfection.

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Norwegian Ginger Cookies 2_2_small

Norwegian Ginger Cookies
Do not skip the step about sprinkling coarse sugar on the top immediately after taking out of the oven. It makes the cookies so much prettier.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

Coarse sugar for sprinkling (I use turbinado._

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silpat or parchment.

Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugars. Add egg and molasses and mix until everything is well-blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and ginger.

Slowly add flour to butter mixture, mixing just until combined. Use a 1 1/2 tbsp. cookie scoop to scoop dough on cookie sheets. Bake for about 9 minutes. The tops of the cookies will start to crack and the edges will become slightly brown. Sprinkle immediately with coarse sugar.

Let these cookies sit on the cookie tray for about 3 minutes and then place them on a wire rack to cool down.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Christmas Crack

Christmas Crack 1_small

Christmas Crack 1_small

I have resisted the Christmas Crack fad for years. I mean how good can a treat made with saltines be? Saltines are what I eat when I’m sick, not when I’m salivating over my favorite holiday treat.

But because one of the girls in my boot camp class could not stop talking about how good this stuff was, I told her I’d try it. And, HOLY SALTINES, I actually liked her version very much, enough to toy with it a little to make it my own. Most versions of this candy are topped with nuts, which are delicious, but we are not big nut fans with our sweets. What we are fans of is pretzels. Pretzels, caramels and chocolate to be exact. So I doctored this up to be a salted caramel pretzel Christmas Crack and we couldn’t be more in love.

I messed with this recipe a lot because I know some of you hate making your own caramel. This one isn’t as fussy — you truly just have to melt the butter and sugar, let it boil, and DON’T STIR IT. I find it is much less likely to seize up if you don’t stir, and you don’t add the vanilla at the end (I didn’t miss it). It’s also not fussy because you don’t need a candy thermometer. Just boil it for about three minutes and pour it over top of the crackers. Easy-peasy.

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Christmas Crack 2_2_small

Salted Caramel Pretzel Christmas Crack
These pics don’t do this stuff justice. It’s FABULOUS.

20 saltine squares
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pretzels
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400°
Line a 10×15 pan with saltines until covered. Melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil for 3 minutes, do not stir. Remove from heat and immediately pour mixture over top of the saltines evenly, spreading to coat.

Sprinkle pretzels on top and bake in oven for 5 minutes until bubbly all over. If you prefer it a little crunchier, bake for 2 more minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Biscoff Sugar Cookies

Homemade Biscoff Cookies 1_small

Homemade Biscoff Cookies 1_small

If ever there was a cookie that was made for tea time, it would be this one.

We don’t really have tea time in our house. Actually, we barely have time to eat or, you know…shower in our house much less sit down and have tea, but if we did we would totally have these cookies.

(I just asked my husband if he wanted to sit down and have tea with me and he acknowledged the lunacy of that question by not even responding. Maybe in 15 years when all the kids are gone?)

Anyhoo, we may not have tea but we have the best cookies in our house. And if you love those little spiced cookies served on Delta airlines, or more recently available in every major grocery store, than you can bet your Biscoff that these will make you happy.

They’re like a perfect Biscoff flavor presented in round sugar cookie form. If you bake them a little less, they stay soft (this is how my daughter likes them). If you bake a bit more, they go crunchy (that’s how I like them — perfect for dipping in coffee. Or the aforementioned, ne’er drank tea.)

These are tough to mess up, friends. Give ‘em a try!

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

Homemade Biscoff Cookies 2_2_small

Homemade Biscoff Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all- purpose flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Line cookie sheets with silpat or parchment.

Use a mixer to combine butter, sugar & brown sugar. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, salt & baking soda. Gradually add to mixer and beat until well combined. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut your cookies into your desired shapes. Use a thin spatula to transfer to baking sheet placing 2 inches apart. Cookies will spread slightly. Bake in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes, depending on whether you want softer or crunchier cookies.

Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.

Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on cookie cutter size.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Sunflower Brittle

sunflower brittle 1_small

sunflower brittle 1_small

When I’m working on this series, I always envision a big cookie tray. And I think, what else can I put on this tray to give it a new color/texture? Because let’s face it — a tray full of round pepperminty-type cookies might be delicious, but it would be boring.

In order to give some variety to the shape/texture of my imaginary “tray” (What? You don’t have an imaginary cookie tray in your mind?) I love to include a good brittle. It’s crunchy. Golden. Abstractly shaped. All this things I’m looking for.

But peanut brittle is so expected, so I changed it up a bit. Since I’m a Kansas girl and we are the Sunflower State, I used sunflower seeds! Their salty texture is a perfect foil to the caramelized brittle.

And the best part about this is you get to be totally imperfect and break it up however you want. The crazier the shape, the better. Yay for being imperfect during the holidays!

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

sunflower brittle 2_small

Sunflower Brittle
Depending on the size of your jelly roll pan, this may or may not cover the whole thing. No worries. You break it apart anyway.

1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups roasted, salted sunflower seeds (shelled)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar and corn syrup until dissolved. Stir mixture constantly until candy thermometer reads 260 degrees. Add sunflower seeds and continue stirring until candy thermometer reaches 295 degrees. Remove from heat, and stir in butter, vanilla and baking soda. Quickly pour onto a well-buttered jelly roll pan. Let cool and break into pieces.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Peanut Butter Truffle Bark

peanut butter cup truffle bark 1_small

peanut butter cup truffle bark 1_small
If you have a chocolate-peanut butter lover in your life, I have the holy grail of holiday treats for you.

Swoon.

I happen to bleed chocolate and peanut butter, so this little idea has been burning a hole in my brain for a few weeks. I tried several different versions, but this was by far the one that set up the best and had the right ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so go ahead and make it early. I think it would freeze okay too (but I didn’t try that, so if you do please let me know!)

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

peanut butter cup truffle bark 1_small

Peanut Butter Cup Truffle Bark
If you try to cut these when they are chilled, the bark will crack and it will get messy. These cut best when you take them out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for 15 min. Then cut with a large, sharp knife. The perimeter pieces will still crack a bit, but you can eat those really fast and no one will know.

(2) 16 oz packages chocolate almond bark or CandiQuik
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil leaving a 2″ overhang on each side to use as “handles” later. Grease foil lightly with cooking spray.

Melt 1 package (16 oz) of almond bark according to package directions. Spread into pan and allow it to harden.

Mix together softened butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and vanilla.
Press the peanut butter mixture evenly over the hardened almond bark layer. Press Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis into the dough.

Melt remaining package (16) oz of almond bark and carefully spread this over the peanut butter layer. Sprinkle with chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Allow the top layer to harden and then lift the bars from the pan using the foil. Carefully cut the bars into pieces. (I find it’s easiest to cut these when they have been chilled, but sat out on the counter for about 15 min. This way the chocolate will not crack but the peanut butter is still set up enough not to ooze out.)

Makes about 36 pieces.

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Vanilla Toffee Icebox Cookies

vanilla toffee icebox cookies 1_small

vanilla toffee icebox cookies 1_small

Holy moly. This cookie is so much more than the sum of its humble parts. I mean, six ingredients? Dump and stir? This is definitely the easiest recipe I’ll post for this series, but it is so buttery, crumbly and good.

This is also the perfect one to make RIGHT NOW and throw in your freezer. Then, when your guests arrive in a couple of weeks, you can just slice and bake. Voila. Fresh, warm cookies.

Buttery, toffee, vanilla goodness. Can I get a holiday “AMEN?”

p.s. Of all twelve of my recipes this year, these are the ones my kids chose to leave for Santa. :-)

Looking for more Holiday Countdown cookies? Here you go!

vanilla toffee icebox cookies 2_2_small

Vanilla Toffee Icebox Cookies
If you want to store the dough in the freezer for a few weeks, just take it out an hour or two before you want to bake. Or throw in your fridge the night before. You want the dough cold enough to slice evenly, but not frozen. You can sprinkle these with a little sea salt for a more sophisticated audience!

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Heath toffee bits (found next to the chocolate chips in the grocery store)

Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
Stir in flour, mixing until fully incorporated. Fold in Heath toffee bits.

Divide dough in half. Place one half on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a log about 6 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap each log with the plastic wrap and refrigerate dough rolls for 1-2 hours or until nice and firm. (At this point, you could also wrap in foil and put in the freezer.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat liner.

Remove plastic wrap from rolls and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Do not overbake these — they are meant to be a tender, shortbread-type cookie but will get rock hard if you overbake. Just browned around the edges is what you’re looking for.

Makes about 26 cookies

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