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Friday, August 26, 2011

HOLIDAYS- Chocolate Mint Morsels

Every holiday season I search for new neighbor-teacher-acquaintance gift ideas. They must be nice, thoughtful, sometimes clever, but not expensive. Bonus points go to gifts that make any or all of the above people think: "Boy, I sure am glad I know Lor!"

Well, my friend Mitzi has a yummy double chocolate mint cookie recipe, and as my family requested my modified version for the umpteenth time last week, the solution to my holiday gifting search presented itself. Although I'm always game for chocolate and mint together, I don't think Christmas treats would be complete without that flavor combination. These cookies are very tender, and the whole-wheat flour adds a nice texture.

Plus, the ingredients are basic enough that I don't have to make a special trip to the store. Butter, sugar, eggs, peppermint extract, milk, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking soda, and chocolate chips.

A master cookie-maker once taught me that the biggest mistake bakers make with cookies is not creaming the butter and sugar long enough. I usually beat mine at high speed for 4 or 5 minutes. This is what my creamed mixture looks like before I move on to the next step. The butter is very light and has almost lost its yellow color:

Add the eggs one at a time and cream again for a couple of minutes. Then add the milk and peppermint extract and blend together.

While all of the beating is going on, I have plenty of time to measure my dry ingredients into a separate bowl and whisk them together.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just moistened. Add the chocolate chips and stir until completely blended. Avoid over-beating at this point, as it will make the cookies tough.

These cookies can be dropped onto a baking sheet with a small cookie scoop, but I think the cookies look prettier when I form the scoop of dough into a ball and roll in sugar before putting on the sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350. Every oven is different, but in my convection oven I bake for 3 minutes, rotate the sheets, and bake again for 3 minutes. Don't over bake! These cookies are best when just a little gooey inside. Cool completely, and then frost with mint-flavored frosting. These can be (and usually are) eaten straight off the plate, but tossing several into a wax or parchment paper-lined box with a cute tag and bow would make a delicious gift. Happy Holidays!

Mint Chocolate Morsels

Adapted from Mitzi C.

1 c. butter, softened
1. c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp. milk
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. finely ground whole wheat flour
2/3 c. (heaping) cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. chocolate chips

Bake 350 for 6-8 minutes. Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies

Mint frosting

In a sturdy Ziploc bag, mush about 2-3 Tbsp. of softened butter around. Sprinkle in about 1/4-1/2 c. powdered sugar, and smoosh around until there are NO lumps. (Lumps will add lots of grief later on!) Sometimes I add some meringue powder at this point if I want a crisp, non-smearable finish. Add a splash or two of mint extract and several drops of green food coloring and smoosh around some more. Then add more water, then powdered sugar, smooshing and blending between each until desired "squeezable" consistency is reached. Snip off a small corner of the Ziploc and then pipe onto cookies.

Note--a mixer can certainly be used for this frosting, but by this point in the baking process, I don't want to deal with any more dirty dishes!

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