As you get older, despite having a bigger budget, it seems that it’s harder to find something to give people. In this modern life of interwebs convenience where salt from Tibet can be conveniently shipped across oceans and dropped off at your door what can you give someone who literally has the world at their fingertips? Ironically, as society has become more digitized and commercialized, I’ve noticed that just like receiving a handwritten letter in a sea of bills and email missives, homemade gifts stand out among the chaff of popcorn tins and impersonal if well-meaning gift cards. Given a choice between fancy Williams-Sonoma gift sets and something straight out of someone’s kitchen or knitting basket, I’ll always choose the personally made option cuz to me it signifies that no matter how busy we become, by taking the time to make something for someone else it really emphasizes how important that relationship truly is.
As what happens most years, the hubby is working this Christmas. For the longest time his co-workers thought he was Jewish cuz he would always volunteer to cover Christmas in order to have other holidays off and while he’s as picky about his egg bagels as the next Santa Monican, he’s about as Jewish as Thomas Jefferson. So is he a Scrooge who reviles peace and goodwill to all (wo)men? Nope. Since we don’t have children or family nearby to glug our hot buttered rum with, it’s better to have New Year’s (bash!) and Thanksgiving (my B-day 🙂 ) off, ya know. So to foster good cheer cuz nobody wants to be in the hospital, especially the patients, on Christmas I usually send him off with some baked goods. These moist, fudgey, überchocolatey cookies contain three different surprises, little melted pools of semi-sweet chocolate chips inside, minty peppermint oil, and crunchy candy cane sprinkles for textural contrast and color. I’ve modified a chocolate crinkle recipe from Serious Eats by adding the chocolate chips for more gooey chocolatiness, a smidgen of butter for that delectable mouth feel it provides, adjusting the sugar to account for the chocolate chips, and the peppermint and candy canes give you that Christmas-y flavor.
Good to know…
1) Even if you do have silicone baking mats, try to keep the candy cane sprinkles in the cookie and not the mat cuz they will melt and create molten sticky pools. So even if you hate having to wash another dish, pour out your sprinkles on a dish so you can just smush the sprinkles into the top of the cookie.
2) Avoid the temptation to overmix as this will expose more of the gluten from the flour allowing it to create a matrix thereby giving the dough a tough, rubbery texture so once you no longer have visible patches of flour you’re good to go. Fine Cooking has a simple and informative look at gluten and baking.
3) Don’t worry if you don’t have a double-boiler to melt the chocolate, you can jerry rig your own. Boil water in a pot or tea kettle. Pour it into a large mixing bowl. Let sit for a minute to let the steam dissipate. Using a pot holder, hold a small bowl, preferably metal so it conducts heat well as you are using the steam from the water to heat the bowl, above the mixing bowl just above but not touching the hot water. Gently stir the chocolate mixture together using the heat from the hot water. Try not to splash the water as not only can you get burned but it can also cause your chocolate to seize becoming a separated, lumpy, grainy mixture.
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c canola oil
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint oil
2 large eggs
2-3 tbsp crushed candy canes (I cheated and used a pre-made mix but I’ve also used a hammer on candy canes wrapped in a clean dish cloth in the past…)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Melt unsweetened chocolate and butter together in a double-boiler. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl mix sugars, oil, unsweetened chocolate mixture, chocolate chips, vanilla, and peppermint oil. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour mixture till just combined (no white lumps or streaks visible). Chill dough in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
Pour crushed candy cane onto a small plate. Scoop out dough with a small ~2 tsp scoop or a small spoon. Roll dough into a ball then gently smush top with crushed candy cane so the candy cane won’t fall off as the cookies expand with baking. Place balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and gently smush so that they’re ~1-1 1/2 inches thick. Bake till cookies are spread out and large cracks appear ~8-10 minutes. With 8 cookies, a silicone baking mat, and convection it takes me 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool for ~5-10 minutes before you remove them from the baking sheet cuz they are so soft they will smear like chocolatey road kill 😦 Makes 33 2-inch cookies. Ho, ho, ho 😀