Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Recipe: Mint-choc cookies with candy cane centres

Mint-chocolate candy cane cookies, as made by EJ
Every January, after the gluttony of Christmas, we are left wondering what to do with the stockpile of treats leftover from last year's celebrations. Having eaten far too much over the holiday, enjoying a candy cane in January somehow seems wrong, like the sugary hangover of December's sickly over-indulgence. Not that this recipe is any less indulgent than the usual treats posted on this blog; just that the candy cane has been de-Christmassed, transforming it into a January-acceptible treat. Twelfth night having been and gone, I am assuming that like me, you have removed all traces of Christmas from your home - and are wondering what to do with those last few candy canes you found hiding on your tree.

Although, of course, if you happen to stumble across this recipe in a future December and want to make these cookies as a Christmas gift for a friend, I won't stop you.

An opaque take on stained glass window cookies, these would also work well with hard boiled mints as transparent centres. The cookie its-self is chocolatey and soft, flavoured with cocoa powder, with a crunchy pane of sweet minty flavour in the middle, courtesy of the candy canes.

When you crush the candy, leave a few larger pieces to create a more defined stripe, if you crush them into a fine powder, you'll end up with pink centres, missing out on the unique swirls and splotches created as they melt.

Makes approximately 25 cookies

You will need:
125g butter, lightly salted (soft, at room temperature)
150g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
25g cocoa powder
190g plain flour
7 candy canes

Special tools:
A 7.5cm round cutter
A 4cm shaped cutter (I used a little flower)

1) Mix the butter and caster sugar together, add the egg, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and combine.
2) Stir in the plain flour until the mixture is an even colour. It may seem a little too sticky for cookie dough at this stage, don't worry as you'll be chilling the dough to firm it up.
3) Wrap the dough tightly in cling film and pop in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes.
4) While the dough is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 190C (fan), line three baking trays with baking paper.
5) You can also use this time to prep the candy canes - crush them using a pestle and mortar, or pop them into a freezer bag and give them a few whacks with a rolling pin. Leave a few larger chunks on candy in the mix (this will give you a more defined stripe).

6) Prep your surface with a light dusting of flour, then roll the dough out to a thickness of approximately 5mm and cut circles out using the 7.5cm round cutter.
7) Re-roll the dough to cut more circles.
8) Arrange the cookies on the baking trays spaced at least 1cm apart. Use the smaller 4cm cutter to cut out the centres (these can be reformed and rolled out to make more cookies).

Cookies ready for the oven
9) Fill the centres with the crushed candy canes, placing one larger piece in the centre of each.
10) Bake for approximately 8 minutes, checking that the cookies are baked and that the centres have melted before removing from the oven.
11) Allow to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool - this is especially important, as the centres will need a minute to set before they are moved.

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