Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

Goodbye 2011, hello 2012!!! 

Today marks the start of a new year in which the possibilities are endless.  To me, January 1st is always a little bittersweet.  People always say that it's a fresh start, which is true, but I also like to look back and reflect on the year that we all just said good-bye to.  For most people, each year's full of sad and happy memories, and I think that today should be a time to be thankful for the things throughout the year that've passed us by.  True, I may have faced my share of difficult times in 2011, but I also had many wonderful things happen in my life as well.  Here are just a few that clearly stand out; I was fortunate enough to have the chance to cruise around on the "Disney Dream" before it opened to the public, I was able to visit family and friends in Michigan,  many family and friends made it down here to visit us in North Carolina, I turned the big 3-0, I started my very own food blog, my husband and I went on our annual whitewater rafting trip with friends, I made my first wedding cake/cupcakes, and I was able to spend Christmas with my husband and family out in Las Vegas.  With all the great memories created in 2011, I'm really looking forward to what 2012 brings!!!

One thing that helped us kick off the new year last night, were these delicious chocolately peppermint bark cookies. they ever fantastic!  I'm not even really a big fan of peppermint, but throughout the evening the cookies just kept calling my name.  Finally, I gave into temptation and sampled one.  I told myself that it was ok though, because I finished the cookie before the clock struck midnight.  Therefore, I did not ruin my New Year's resolution....................... 

Who am I kidding though, with all the desserts I make throughout the year, my New Year's resolution could never be to give up baked goods!  How else would I know if I could serve what I make?  That sounds like a valid reason, right?  Anyway.......I 'm sure that some of your New Year's resolutions are to eat healthy and exercise, which mine are as well, but every now and then I feel that we need to reward ourselves for all our hard work.  So, with that being said, here's the recipe for when you're in the mood to say, "To heck with the diet for a day!"

 Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
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For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 package Andes Peppermint Crunch, broken into smaller pieces (feel free though, to use any peppermint bark)

For the frosting:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup half-n-half

For the Cookies:

Break the peppermint crunch into smaller pieces, using your hands.  This will prevent you from breaking the pieces too small. 

Place the pieces in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  This helps the bark from melting too quickly while baking.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, set to a medium speed, beat the butter for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.  Add in the brown sugar and sugar and continue to beat on a medium speed until light and fluffy.  This should take around 4 minutes.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and mix on a low speed until just combined.

Pour in the flour mixture and beat on low until all the ingredients are just combined.  Continue by folding in any ingredients that may have stuck to the sides or the bottom of the mixer’s bowl.  Add the peppermint crunch (bark) to the cookie dough and fold in using a spatula.

Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or longer.  Do not skip this step, or try to rush it!!!

Once the cookies have been chilled, line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, or a piece of parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out a piece of cookie dough and then roll it into a small ball. 

Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly, using the palm of your hand.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the Frosting:
Sift the powdered sugar and set aside.

Place the melted butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and sift the cocoa powder over top.  Mix on a medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture becomes smooth.  Now, add in the peppermint extract and the vanilla extract and mix until just combined.

With the mixer set to a low speed, alternate between adding the confectioner’s sugar and the half-n-half.  Once the ingredients have been combined, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 2-3 minutes or until the frosting appears smooth.

To make the cookie sandwiches:
  1. Match up even size cookies. 
  2. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and a decorative tip.
  3. Place a cookie upside down
  4. Pipe frosting on the inverted cookie
  5. Top with another cookie
  6. Try not to eat right away, but if you do, ENJOY!!!!

To Store:  Place the cookies in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.  Remove the cookies from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before eating.


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