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Merry Christmas friends (a little late, I know). I hope you all had a great holiday. I know this time of year can be very difficult for some of us (me included sometimes) so I hope you’re all maintaining as best as you can. This is the first Christmas in the past 16 Christmases that we’ve woken up in our own home and had no obligations or travel plans.  For the past 16 years we’ve spent this holiday at one set of parent’s home or another. Since we live pretty far away from our families, we typically alternate years and spend Christmas with either my husband’s family or my family.  This is our year to be with my family in Florida but my family did something a little different this year and so we went down to FL in mid-December instead of being there on the actual day of Christmas.  This allowed us to have our very first Christmas with just the two of us, well three if you count the cat (which we do).  I cooked prime rib for the first time (it was excellent if I do say so myself) and we had a very nice dinner at home, just the two (three) of us.

In the spirit of sharing more then just my negative emotions (I’ve been soooo emo lately it’s probably good I haven’t been posting much). Seriously, I’m surprised that anyone still reads my posts when I get so emotional and just rant all the time… ANYWAY, this is a recipe that I’ve cobbled together from various other basic spritz cookie recipes along with my own tweaks. These cookies are not very sweet (I think I’m going to try more sugar next year) but my husband likes them, and that’s all that really matters. So in case any of you are still in the mood for cookies here are my chocolate peppermint spritz cookies**.  I’ve been making these for 5 years now and it’s not really christmas time until they’re done. You need a cookie press to officially make these spritz cookies but they probably don’t taste any different if you just plop them on a cookie tray – they’d look like hell but they’d taste OK.  I prefer to make mine in the shape of a Christmas Tree.

Ingredients:

1& 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup unsalted butter – at room temperature

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons peppermint extract (please note you can make other versions of these cookies just by changing the flavor of the extract. This year’s experiment was chocolate banana – I replaced the peppermint extract with banana extract. They wen’t bad but the peppermint is still the house favorite.)

Optional – red hots type candies and/or colored sugar for decoration

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 325*f
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl – stir to mix these dry ingredients and set aside (DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT MIX THE SUGAR IN THIS BOWL. I’VE DONE IT, IT SUCKS)
  3. Place the butter and sugar in your mixer if you have one. If not and you still use hand held beaters like me, use a large bowl so you don’t splatter cookie dough everywhere (I’VE DONE THIS TOO, IT SUCKS ALSO).
  4. Beat butter and sugar until creamy and well mixed.
  5. Add in the egg yolk and the extracts and mix again
  6. Add the dry mixture slowly to the mixing bowl incorporating it bit by bit or you’ll end up with a chocolate-flour dust cloud in your face (I’VE NOT ACTUALLY DONE THIS BUT I THINK IT WOLD BE FUNNY SO IF YOU DO, SEND ME A PICTURE). You want a pretty dry dough so these cookies hold their shape and don’t spread much in the oven. If the dough appears too moist add a bit more flour a teaspoon at a time until you think it looks better. If you over do it you can add a teaspoon of milk to loosen it.
  7. Put the cookie press together with whatever shape disk you prefer, as I said, I like the trees. Fill cookie press with dough and get to it. Press cookies onto a cool baking sheet, top with candies and/or colored sugar and then pop them in the oven for about 8 minutes. I prefer my cookies a little softer so I usually go for 7-8 minutes. If you like a crisper cookie you might want to go closer to 9-10 minutes.

These cookies can lose a bit of their shape if you press them on a hot baking sheet.  I typically use two different baking sheets and rotate them in and out of the oven so each one has a few minutes to cool before I use it again. If the dough gets too warm it might get mushy and sticky, in that case I’d put it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so before continuing.  You want to press crisp cookie shapes not mushy puddles of dough. On the other hand, if the dough is too cold it won’t press well. You’ll have to figure out what temp works best for your dough and your press. Trying to get the dough into the press is a PITA (pain in the ass). The dough is sticky so trying to spoon it in is a joke. The best hack I’ve come up with is to fill a large plastic bag with the dough and then cut off a smallish corner of the bag and use it like a pastry bag to fill the cylinder of the press. If anyone has any other brilliant ideas, please let me know. Enjoy!

**This recipe was inspired by one from Flo Braker that I found online in 2009 at sfagte.com I have made my own adjustments for taste over the years but the basic recipe I began with was hers.  That’s how I tend to cook… I look at enough different recipes for things that I get an understanding of how it’s typically done and then I pick and chose what I like from each one to make something slightly different.