Chocolate and mint is a combination that you either love or hate. I’ve never met anyone in the middle. If you’re new around here, I’m the president of the love club. Chocolate-mint haters, just leave now and come back next week.
I am so glad, because you really want to make these cookies now, while it is still cold out. There is something classically winter about chilly air and a minty confection, don’t you think? Best of all, no need to wait until next Christmas. I’m sure that’s we’ve still got at least a good month of snow here in Pittsburgh.
These cookies are dainty and ladylike, measuring a scant two inches across, but they carry a heavy flavor payload. Chocolate is definitely the first thing you taste, thanks to the inclusion of both chocolate and cocoa powder in the dough. But unlike many other mint cookies, where the mint flavor is just in the creamy or candy part, these little nuggets have mint in the actual cookie as well, in the form of melted Andes candies. So you get big chocolate first, followed by bigger mint and a great big Aaaaaaaah! of instant refreshment.
I found this recipe in the new cookbook from the Baked guys, called Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.* I got it a few weeks before Thanksgiving and I’m still reading it cover-to-cover on a weekly basis. My baking-obsessed sister read it twice during her 5-day visit. It’s that compelling. I’d expect to hear about it again if I were you!
Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies
From Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented*
As always, use high quality chocolate. This is particularly important for the white chocolate; crappy white chocolate will break when melted. I suggest the E. Guittard brand that is available for quite reasonable prices at Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District. Also, a kitchen scale* makes measuring the chocolate simple.
For the cookies
2 ounces dark chocolate
2 ounces mint chocolate or Andes mint chocolate candies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarse sugar for rolling (I used Domino’s demerara and it was great.)
For the mint ganache
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Melt the dark chocolate and mint chocolate together in the microwave using 30 second bursts. Whisk until smooth, then set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the white and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and continue beating until combined. Add the cooled chocolate and mix gently until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour-cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough is smooth, but only just. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap it up and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and let the dough soften on a counter for a few minutes if it got really hard. Pour the coarse sugar into a shallow bowl and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Form tablespoon-size dough balls, taking care that they have no lumps or cracks, and try to make them all the same size. (A cookie scoop is awesome here.) Roll each ball in coarse sugar and place it on the cookie sheet. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the sheets from the oven and re-make the indentations (aren’t you glad you used that wooden spoon and not your actual thumb!) Swap and rotate the cookie sheets when you return them to the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Pull the cookies out of the oven at the very first sign of cracking and cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the mint ganache, put the white chocolate in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until it boils, about 30 seconds. Pour the heavy cream over the white chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the peppermint extract. Use the measuring cup to fill the thumbprints with the ganache and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
These cookies freeze beautifully and thaw in minutes. Not that I, um, just had some, or anything like that.