Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chocolate and Peppermint Swirl Spritz Cookies (12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies - Week 8)

What would a Christmas cookie tray be without the buttery little morsel that is the spritz cookie? Not everyone loves a thickly iced sugar cookie or a spicy gingerbread (although I sure do!), but spritz cookies always seem to have mass appeal. I mean, what's not to love? They're sweet, buttery, bite-sized and come in all sorts of novelty shapes - and they're the favorites of grandmas and church potluck bakers everywhere.

Of course, if I want there to be any chance of Matt liking a new recipe these days, I have to include chocolate. One of his favorite cookies of all time is the Cool Mint Oreo, and so the idea for a choco-peppermint spritz sandwich cookie was born. I made one or two in a regular Oreo shape, too, but the pressed cookies were so much more fun.

Unfortunately, in my excitement about contributing these Christmas classics to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies party, I completely overlooked the fact that they can be a right pain to make - especially when you don't have a non-nonstick baking sheet (how was I unaware of this deficiency in my kitchen arsenal until now?).

After a few unsuccessful attempts at getting the cookies to stick to my baking sheet, I got creative and tried everything from the pizza stone (mmmm, is that a hint of garlic lurking behind all that chocolate?) to aluminum foil. In the end, the best answer seemed to be chilling the sheets in the fridge or freezer between batches - that and a whole lot of patience!

Thankfully, the end product turned out pretty cute and very tasty. The peppermint filling is even better than its Oreo inspiration - in my not-so-humble opinion - since it contains crushed peppermint candies for extra minty goodness. A word to the wise: don't skimp on the cocoa in this recipe - its smoky flavor makes for a great contrast with the brightness of the peppermint.

Rich Chocolate Spritz Cookies
based on this recipe from The Prepared Pantry

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugars, in the bowl of a stand mixer, until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until well combined.

Stir in the dry ingredients incrementally, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir until smooth and well blended. Dough will be stiff.

Spoon the dough into a cookie press and press onto an ungreased baking sheet (stoneware works, too, but you'll need to increase the baking time). If dough refuses to stick, chill baking sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes and try again. Leave about 1/2 inch between cookies and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are no longer glossy and feel dry when lightly pressed. Remove cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a clean countertop or, for crisper cookies, a wire rack.

Peppermint Swirl Sandwich Cookie Filling
Confession time - I didn't actually use a recipe (no surprises there, I guess!) but I can give you some guidelines to make the tastiest peppermint filling ever. I had Cool Mint Oreos on the brain when I created this recipe (Matt loves them so I was trying for a homemade substitute) and I really think this filling came close. 

Approx. 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (as needed to achieve the desired consistency)
2-4 drops peppermint extract (as desired)
Crushed peppermint candies
Red food coloring (optional)

Stir butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and peppermint extract to form a thick, smooth paste. Add powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency (think extra thick Oreo filling). Stir in crushed candies. Divide filling in half and tint one half with red food coloring. Roll each half into a log (or as near a log as possible) and then roll the two logs together, creating a swirl pattern. Slice filling into discs and sandwich between two cookies, pressing gently against a countertop or other level surface to cement together.

A few notes: It had been a long time since I'd made spritz cookies, and this recipe just served to remind me why! Sure, they're delicious, but they're also kind of a pain to make - especially if you don't have a non-nonstick baking sheet. Chilling your baking sheets prior to use helps a little, but the best answer is just to have patience! Of course, it probably didn't help that my cookie press is older than I am. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of today's models - and it's a real treat to clean afterwords - but it's a family treasure, and that makes these cookies taste even better!

This post has been shared at:
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  1. These sound and look beautiful! Perfect for Christmas!

  2. Spritz sandwich cookies??? You just blew my mind. I have always just had them as spritz's... but together with filling. Love it!

  3. I guess a lot of us were in the mood for peppermint this week! These look delicious--I know my kids would love them!

  4. How perfect I just found my press, unused of coarse in the basement. I think these sound great. Do you think that it would work on parchment?

  5. Thanks for all the sweet comments!

    Coconut - I think you could give it a try. I didn't get around to trying parchment but I did manage to get mine to work on a non-stick sheet (after lots and lots of chilling) so I think you'd have a good chance!

  6. Your cookies are pretty and I love the chocolate and peppermint combo:@)

  7. AMAZING! I love mint oreos but I can imagine how much better your filling tastes. Thanks for the tips on getting the cookies to stick!

  8. Well your hard work paid off because these look adorable and I bet they taste amazing, too!

  9. So cute! I love mint and chocolate as a cookie combo. :)

  10. Lovely cookies. I've always felt intimidated by sandwich cookies. But these have turned out so well, I'm quite tempted to try them.

  11. these are beautiful and they sound so yummy I'd love it if you'd add this to my link party at

  12. Your spritz cookies look twice as good sandwiched together. Really dresses them up.

  13. I bought a press years ago from Papered Chef but got rid of it because it frustrated me too much. Just recently I bought another press to give it a try again because I just love that look! This recipe looks great! I am a big chocolate and mint fan. :)

  14. These are so pretty and must be very tasty! I just bought a Wilton press and haven't tried it out yet, so hoping my cookies look like yours!

  15. I love, love, love, these cookies! My very best wishes to you and your family for a blessed Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon!
    Miz Helen

  16. These are beautiful and look so delicious!!! Pinned it =o)

  17. Those look delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I will have to give those a try.
    Thanks for linking up to Making It With Allie this week! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

  18. what a cute cookie, I've never used a cookie press they sound delicious!

  19. Love these! Pretty and delicious too. I need a cookie press!

  20. These look incredibly yummy.. I love it.. Super cute.. I have a Christmas linky happening that I would LOVE for you to please share/add this awesome feature to pweeease. TY ~ *officially your newest follower* Wishing you an amazing thanksgiving week : ))

  21. These sound yummy! Thanks for linking up with me! I'm featuring you again this week!