Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

When I began writing about these cookies the day before Christmas, I had a pretty high opinion of them; versatile and yummy, they are great to make in advance. What I hadn’t counted on, because I didn’t know yet, was just how amazing they would turn out.

It began as another adventure from the “fast” baking book. Simple, yes. Fast? I would not go that far. Think of these cookies as a long distance run, not a sprint. If you try to get it done quickly you'll pull a baking muscle, so just let it develop over the course of a day or so. I can only think of one thing worse than being up until 2am piping cream cheese onto cookies as you can barely hold your eyes open: waking up to all the dishes the next morning. So take your time: Make the batter in one night. The dough has to chill for at least an hour, so just pop the dough, bowl and all, in the fridge overnight. Otherwise you'll have to do like I did, which is soak the bowl in soap and water to prevent yourself from eating all of it without any utensils. Bake the cookies the next day.
If you’re like me, you'll wake up the next morning with just one thing on your mind: peppermint cream cheese filling. People, this last step is absolutely necessary. It raises the bar from “just another chocolate cookie” to “oh my god you can’t leave those here with me by myself.”

The fine folks at Williams Sonoma recommend dividing the dough into three disks and saving one or more for later use. This speaks to me: there is no reason to avoid admitting that I love my freezer. Yes, it is loud and a horrible puke yellow color, but it does a good job keeping my perishables from perishing. You’d be hard pressed to open it and not find a Tupperware full of soup, a pint of ice cream or two or four, and some pizza dough for those days when I just can’t do anything more than preheat the oven and swirl some tomato sauce and cheese around.
Now, you'll find some chocolate roll out cookie dough, too. As I was putting it away I noticed I had leftover cream cheese frosting-one in a Tupperware and another in a Ziploc. I didn’t have anything particular in mind when I grabbed those two to defrost - I wasn’t even sure if they were the same flavor. I know now my subconscious was one step ahead of me, planning for the awesomeness to come. The cookies by themselves are good, yes. But they are phenomenal with a little extra love and attention.

Chocolate Roll Out Cookies from William Sonoma’s Food Made Fast: Baking

1 ½ C (12 oz) unsalted butter at room temp
3 C Light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 Eggs
1 T vanilla extract
3 ½ C flour
1 C plus 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ t baking soda
1 ½ t cream of tartar
¾ t salt
coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter & sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. In another bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix on low speed until blended. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface, dividing into three equal portions. Pat each portion into a flat disk, and wrap separately in plastic warp. Chill for at least one hour or up to two days. You can freeze for later use.

Put the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (if you don’t have this, DO NOT substitute wax paper. Grease the cookie sheets instead). On a work surface, place disk between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll out about 1/8” thick. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out. Transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1 ½” apart. Gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more cookies. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake cookies until edges are crisp, 8-10minutes. Let cool briefly on sheets, then transfer to rack to cool completely.

For cream cheese frosting:

2-8oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla extract
1 t peppermint extract

whip cream cheese with sugar until spreadable consistency, adding more confectioner’s sugar if necessary. Add vanilla. Add peppermint to taste.

I used a #10 wilton tip inside a Ziploc-type bag to pipe dollops onto cookies, then pressed another cookie on top to spread the frosting. You can use whatever works-a knife (Editor's Note from C Fierce: originally J Fierce had this spelled as "knive" ... no, sister, plural knives does not a singular "knive" make. Guess which one of the Sisters Fierce is a Two Time Spelling Bee Champion.), a spatula, etc.

The cream cheese will slightly soften the cookies over the course of the day, don’t worry if they are crispy initially.

***As soon as I unearth my camera-to-computer-cord from the debris of the holiday season, I will post some beautiful images that will knock your socks off.

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