Some of the best memories from Christmas vacations past center around the kitchen table – not eating, but rather preparing a variety of Christmas cookies and candies with different generations of my family.
As a child, I was able to participate in the process from two very different perspectives: with very definitive recipes from my mother’s side of the family; with no recipe when with my paternal grandmother. Nevertheless, they were always good, no matter who made them.
As an adult, I have to admit to being my mother’s daughter, thus, I am recipe-dependent. Even so, my daughter and granddaughter still enjoy the process. Soon, I plan to make these Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Christmas Cookies with my granddaughter.
Ingredients for the Cookie:
5 ¼ (1 cup + 2 ½ tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ ounce (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ounce (1/2 cup) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon table salt
Tip: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 oz.) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.
Ingredients for the Mint Filling:
4 ounces (3/4 cup) chopped semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 ½ (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
¼ tsp. pure peppermint extract
Directions for the cookies:
- Sift the flour and cocoa together into a medium bowl. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and salt; continue beating until blended and smooth, about 1 minute more. Add the flour-cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, about 1 minute. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm enough to roll into balls, 40 to 60 minutes.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners. Using your palms, roll heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange them 2 inches apart on the lined sheets. With a lightly floured thumb or index fingertip, press straight down into the middle of each ball almost to the cookie sheet to make a deep well. (Or use the end of a thick-handled wooden spoon.)
- Bake one sheet at a time until the tops of the cookies look dry, 8 to 9 minutes. Gently redefine the indentations with the end of a wooden spoon. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then let them cool completely on racks.
Directions for the filling:
- Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water. Stir with a heatproof spatula until almost melted, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds more. Stir in the mint extract.
- Let the filling cool, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and a bit warmer than room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Spoon the filling into a small pastry bag with a small plain tip. (Or use a small plastic bag and cut a tiny bit off a bottom corner of the bag.) Pipe the filling into the center of each cookie.
- Cool completely before serving or storing. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.