Back in November, I told myself that this would be the holiday season where I went back to my old ways of baking a ton of deliciousness and giving it to family and friends. Then I woke up one day and it was ten days until Christmas … well, not really, but it sure felt that way.
I had a choice: I could do a little baking (I’ve been doing a little baking all along, but not much) and just forget about it. Or, I could get off my tush (yes, I said tush) and do something about it. I opted for the latter. So this past weekend, I whipped up dozens of confections and packed them up for gifting. It was a blur of mixers, baking sheets and lots of butter. And you know what? It was so, so worth it.
I love baking for others, especially around the holidays.
This week is all about the holiday treats here at Sarah’s Cucina Bella. And to kick it all off, I just had to share this recipe from Food Network Magazine’s December 2011 issue.
I made just a few changes — first, I used a medium cookie scoop to scoop out the dough, ensuring that I got a perfect 1 1/2 tablespoon ball every time. The recipe called for a scant tablespoon, but I really liked the slightly larger size. I also didn’t add the center — the Candy Cane Hershey Kiss — until after the cookies were baked. I wanted it to maintain it’s shape without any melting or browning. Oh, and adding that Candy Cane Hershey Kiss? Totally my idea.
These cookies are a rich, dense, chocolatey confection, almost brownie-like. The sugary coating gives them this fabulous coolness that almost mimics the minty center. I can’t tell you how many compliments I got on these. This recipe is a definite keeper.
Making these is pretty simple — though it does have a chill step. You start by sifting the dry ingredients and then mixing in the wet ones. The dough will be crumbly and seem like it will never come together. That’s when (and this is a step I added), you mix it by hand until it’s smooth and in a ball. Then the dough is chilled for 30 minutes.
Next, you scoop out 1 1/2 tablespoon balls of dough (with a cookie scoop, of course) and lightly roll them in your hands. Then you dip them first into granulated sugar then into confectioners’ sugar.
Arrange the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then you press each one down at the center with your thumb. Then they bake.
Finally, you press a Candy Cane Hershey’s Kiss into the center and let them cool completely. Oh, the deliciousness.
What’s the best thing you’ve made this holiday season?
Cocoa Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup (for rolling)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 20 unwrapped Hershey Kisses Candy Cane variety
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pour in the butter and eggs and stir to moisten and combine. When it gets all crumbly and uncooperative, use clean hands to knead the cookie dough together until it forms one smooth ball. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a bowl and the confectioners' sugar in a second bowl.
- Using a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 tbsp size) to scoop out balls of dough. Roll each first in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners' sugar. Arrange on the baking sheet leaving 1-inch between each ball. Once all the balls are rolled out, press down in the center with your thumb to flatten and leave about a 1/2-inch indent.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked. Remove from the oven and immediately press one Candy Cane Hershey Kiss into the center of each cookie. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.