On the fifth day of Christmas, ¯¯ my true love gave to me ¯¯… Peppermint Stick Shortbread.
When I delivered several large holiday bags full of dozens upon dozens of beribboned boxes of LunaCafe OtherWorldly Artisan Cookies to my family last year, this particular cookie, after it was sampled, caused a scene. My 8-year-old nephew, Matthew, began tearing through other family member’s bags, scooping out all the boxes labeled Peppermint Stick for himself. After Christmas, his mom confided that both he and my 10-year niece, Sarah, had “redirected” many boxes of cookies to their bedrooms for “safe keeping.”
Now I ask you, is that the spirit of Christmas? J
Peppermint Stick Shortbread
I developed the prototype for these cookies last year as part of the product line for LunaCafe OtherWorldly Artisan Cookies, which will hopefully launch in the not too distant future. Although I can’t share that top secret formula with you (more than 10 years in testing), here is essentially the same flavoring in a traditional and utterly delicious (light, crisp, buttery) shortbread cookie.
Warning Highly addictive. May cause immature behavior even in adults.
Baking Note For best results, cookies should be COLD when they go into the oven. Otherwise, they may spread too much. Always give cookies plenty of space to spread regardless, at least an inch between cookies. Baking times are APPROXIMATE. Correct baking times are critical to the success of your cookies. Test your oven and pan setup with a few cookies to start with and watch the timing closely. Dark pans bake faster than light pans or air-sandwiched pans. Silicon mat-lined pans bake faster than parchment-lined pans. Cookies that are rolled to 1/8-inch thick bake faster than cookies rolled to ¼-inch thick. And your oven may be running hot or cold. There are so many variables. Do test a couple of cookies first. It may save an entire batch later.
3 cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 ounces peppermint sticks or candy canes (1 cup crushed candy)
1½ cups unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (3 cubes)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt. Reserve.
- Put the peppermint sticks in a sealable plastic bag, remove air from the bag, seal, and then crush with a mallet. Measure 1 cup of crushed peppermint candy. Reserve.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts, and incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on very slow speed very briefly, just until a dough forms.
- Add the crushed peppermint sticks and mix just to incorporate.
- Using a #40 (1½ tablespoon) commercial scoop, scoop level portions of dough and place side-by-side in a container. (For a less jagged finished edge, roll the portions of dough into smooth balls with your hands after scooping.) If you run out of room, it’s fine to put a second layer of dough mounds on top of the first layer. They will easily pull apart after they are chilled. Cover the container.
- Refrigerate dough for at least 4 hours (and preferably overnight) before baking.
- Place well chilled mounds of dough 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place a small piece of plastic wrap over each cookie and then flatten to ½-inch thick with a flat or textured mallet to a diameter of 1¾ inches. (They will spread to 2¼ inches as they bake.)
- Bake at 350° for about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, rotating pans at the halfway point to ensure even browning.
- Remove from the oven, immediately loosen each cookie with a thin spatula and let cool for 3-4 minutes on the pan.
- Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and place on a wire rack and cool completely.
- Store airtight in layers separated by wax paper rounds in a cookie tin in a cool, dry place.
These cookies improve with age. If stored properly, they keep for 3-4 weeks.
Makes 2 dozen, 2¼-inch diameter cookies.
Come Back for More
Here is the LunaCafe Christmas 2008 Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies initial post and game plan – with links to the following twelve cookies.
On the 1st day of Christmas: Lily’s Swedish Vanilla Spritz
On the 2nd day of Christmas: Orange Vanilla Sugar Cookies
On the 3rd day of Christmas: Decidedly Lemon Teacakes
On the 4th day of Christmas: Once in a Chocolate-Spice Moon Cookies
On the 5th day of Christmas: Peppermint Stick Shortbread
On the 6th day of Christmas: Lemon-Lime Clove Sugar Cookies
On the 7th day of Christmas: Almond Black Cherry Shortbread
On the 8th day of Christmas: Green Tea and Rose Spritz
On the 9th day of Christmas: Almond Butter Poinsettia Cookies
On the 10th day of Christmas: Lemon OrangePecan Thumbprints
On the 11th day of Christmas: Candy Cane Butter Cookies
On the 12th day of Christmas: Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor