Date Nut Pinwheels

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When I was planning what cookies I was going to bake for this Christmas season, I perused through my cookbooks and surfed my Pinterest boards and found myself in absolute sensory overload. I couldn’t decide, so I asked Bert what his favorite Christmas cookies are and after brief deliberation, he decided on date nut pinwheels. I was kind of surprised to learn this little fact about the guy I have grown to know so well that I can (and, so annoyingly, do) finish his sentences. My husband, who has declared chocolate chip the supreme cookie of all time and holds a classic double chocolate cake as his most revered birthday treat, had revealed to me a side of him that I never knew. The lad loves the underrated and often overlooked date nut pinwheel. My heart swelled with pride and I marked my notebook in pen; date nut pinwheels were a must for this holiday season.

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These cookies are a little more time-consuming in that you have to allow plenty of time to make and cool the filling, and chill the dough two separate times. The actual rolling up of the pinwheels can be a little intimidating, but the folks at America’s Test Kitchen included great instructions on how to do it simply with parchment paper. I was feeling a little sassy and festive on the day I was baking these and decided to have Bert and Smith record me rolling up one of the pinwheel logs . I always learn better by watching a video over a series of pictures, so I’ve included the video here. It’s very homemade, but I hope you find it helpful.

Have a wonderful week, everyone, I am going to be posting more holiday treats on the blog as Christmas nears. It’s going to be extra sweet around here, but I have some lighter recipes to share in a few weeks, as well.

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Date Nut Pinwheels

Yield: America’s Test Kitchen says 40 but I got around 48

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
  • 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Bring the pecans, dates, 1/2 cup sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.

2. Use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. When your butter mixture is nice and fluffy, turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and mix again. Next, add in the vanilla and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, in about 3 additions, until the dough is just sticking together. Turn off the mixer and divide the dough into two equal-sized hunks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. After the filling is cooled and the dough has chilled, place one of the hunks of dough on a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle and spread half of the date filling on the dough using a rubber spatula. Pull up on the long side of the parchment paper that is facing you and slowly peel and roll the dough while pulling up on the parchment paper to form a log (see video above). Repeat with the other hunk of dough. Place the logs on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day. You can also speed up this process by freezing the dough for about 1 hour.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with greased parchment paper or silicone mats. Carefully slice the logs using a sawing motion as to not flatten the pinwheels into rectangles. Gently adjust the sliced cookies with your fingers to make them rounder. Place on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes**, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool completely.

**America’s Test Kitchen provides a baking time of 18-22 minutes, but I found that my cookies were a little overdone at this time. My advice would be to do a test cookie and see which duration works best for you.

SourceAmerica’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Pots de Creme

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I am going to show you the very erudite side of me and tell you that I used to pronounce this lovely custard treat “pots-day-cream” until I saw a chef making it on a cooking show about five years ago and he was saying it the correct way, “poh-de-cccccccrem.” I was just a little bit embarrassed, but I did manage to laugh at myself. That’s what life is all about, right?

Those silly French folk and their fancy words and my phonetically-centered brain. I would fit right in in France. Can’t you see Ina Garten and me perusing the markets while Jeffery worked on his computer back at our Parisian apartment? Yeahhhh…. neither can I.

Nonetheless, pots de creme is a surprisingly easy dessert to make. There is no baking involved and it requires very few ingredients. You just need to allow some extra time for it to set in the refrigerator and the end result is a big ol’ pot of CCCCCCCCCCREM. How fancy; just like those French.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Bonjour!

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Arrange 6 small bowls on a cookie sheet and set aside.

2. Pulse the chocolate chips, salt, and sugar in a food processor until ground into fine pieces.

3. Add in the egg and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

4.. Place the cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat on the stove until bubbles just start to form along the edges (not a full boil). Remove from heat.

5. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the cream through the feed, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides as needed. Mix until well combined and smooth.

6. Pour the mixture into the bowls, dividing evenly, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Enjoy with whipped cream, cookies, and/or fresh fruit.

Source: King Arthur Flour

My Favorite Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorite comfort foods. Especially chewy ones. Like these. A few years ago, my mom stumbled upon this recipe and it has been our favorite ever since. They are perfectly chewy with a perfect balance of salt and cinnamon. The only thing that would make them better is throwing in a heaping handful of plump, juicy raisins; but there is a boy that I live with that likes oatmeal cookies sans raisins. He’s not normally picky, but in this instance he is. And since I can’t eat the whole batch myself- well technically I could- I left them out. Also, my mom sometimes adds in coconut and almonds and that is really delicious too. It’s really up to personal preference.

If you are looking for a great oatmeal cookie that’s chewy and flavorful, look no further. These are quite tasty. And they make your house smell heavenly. :)

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • Raisins, nuts, coconut (optional)

Directions

1.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and both sugars.

2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Add in the oats and stir until just combined. Add in any extras (raisins, nuts, coconut, etc), if desired.

5. Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, cover, and chill for at least an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place on the cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Press down gently with fingertips.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don’t overbake. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins

Monday is here again. By Sunday night, I tend to start to get that dreaded feeling of facing the week ahead. No more sleeping in or going about as I please. It’s back to the daily grind and Friday seems so far away. Mondays don’t get a lot of love, but it’s time to change that. It’s time to start looking Monday square in the face with a big smile. There’s no way of avoiding it, so why not make the most of it? And why not do it with one of these banana cream cheese muffins?

These muffins are an adaptation of my favorite banana bread recipe with a delightful dollop of cream cheese filling in the center of this flavorful cake. It’s a tasty breakfast treat and will give you just enough moxy to say, “bring it on, Monday.”

Bring it on, Monday! ;)

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins

Printable Version

Yield: 1 dozen large muffins

Ingredients:

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 large, very ripe bananas
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

Directions:

1. To make the filling, whip the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until combined.

2. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour to allow to harden.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with spray oil. Set aside.

4. To make the banana bread, place the bananas in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and slit a few slices in it to act as a vent. Microwave for 5 minutes.

5. Remove from the microwave and place the banana mixture in a sieve over a bowl and gently stir. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the excess liquid drains from the bananas.

6. Transfer the banana liquid to a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. This takes about 5 minutes.

7. Combine the bananas and the banana liquid in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add in the vanilla, eggs, and butter. Stir.

8. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to the banana mixture and mix until just combined.

9.  Remove the cream cheese mixture from the freezing. Retrieve the muffin tin and fill each cup about halfway full with the banana batter. Cut a 1 inch slice from the cream cheese log and place on top. Add another scoop of the banana batter.

10. Place in the oven and bake for 22 minutes, or until the muffin springs back when you touch it. Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!

Source: Banana bread and cream cheese filling adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated and BakeSpace

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

Have you ever had Chambord? Until this past weekend, I hadn’t; and boy was I missing out! Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur and it is absolutely scrumptious. I received it as a Christmas gift from my parents and, after our Christmas dinner, I whipped up a little cocktail that my dad aptly named The Lollypalooza. With Chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and fresh lime juice, it tastes like sherbet in a glass. It has officially become my new favorite cocktail, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) Chambord
  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) vodka
  • 6 fluid oz (1/2 can) diet Ginger Ale
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Combine the chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and lime juice. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy.

Food Memory Friday: The Christmas Edition

Christmas is a really special time of year. It’s a time of reflection, appreciation, and tradition. Some of my most treasured memories are from childhood Christmases.

Every Christmas eve, my mom would make a variety of appetizers and my siblings and I would get to open one small gift. After that we usually watched Christmas movies and then we were sent to bed, where we were often too excited to fall asleep. In the morning my mom and dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while they scouted out the living room. “The old boy has been here,” they’d say and, after what seemed like agonizing hours, we were finally allowed to scurry down the stairs to see the stacks full of presents underneath the Christmas tree. My mom usually had a breakfast casserole and some cinnamon rolls for us to eat after we opened our gifts and I can recall several Christmas mornings after the dust had finally settled, when I thought to my young self, “I don’t think life can get much better than this.” The gifts were a big part of the celebration, but the most fun- as sappy as it may sound- was having that uninterrupted time with my family. Now that my siblings and I are grown and out of the house, it’s getting more difficult to spend each holiday season together. Still, those fond memories of Christmas past make me so excited for the Christmas present and future.

These buttermilk cookies with brown sugar frosting are very similar to a cookie my mom used to make at Christmas time. They usually made it onto the plate of cookies we left out for Santa. I can very vividly remember my mom baking these cookies one year and I would sneak several spoonfuls of this icing while she wasn’t looking. In fact, I ate so much that I ended up getting sick later that night. And to this day I still love these cookies dearly, even after all that.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday and that the memories you make from this Christmas will be ones on which you can fondly reflect years from now.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Buttermilk Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Printable Version

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  •  4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  •  2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Whip butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time until well-blended. In a a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder and the flour. Pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and then add the baking soda to it. Alternately add the liquid and flour mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use a cookie scoop to measure out equal ping pong ball-sized balls of dough. Roll the dough into smooth balls and then place on a cookie sheet. Pat down the cookies gently until they are slightly flattened (you may need to wet your hands slightly to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers). Bake for 12 minutes or just until the cookies are baked even (don’t overbake!). Place on a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt the butter in the saucepan; add the brown sugar and whisk together until smooth. Heat for two minutes, whisking constantly. Stir in the milk or cream. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm. Place the mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in milk if it’s too thick.

Spread the icing onto the cooled buttermilk cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Gingerbread Biscotti

One of my favorite spices is ginger and one of the most synonymous treats with Christmas are gingerbread cookies. These gingerbread biscotti are just a little twist on the classic cookie. In the dunkable, coffee-friendly form. There’s three types of ginger in these spicy bad boys- powdered ginger, crystallized ginger, and fresh ginger, which makes the ginger flavor extra-prominent and extra-delicious in a hot cup of coffee.

I didn’t always love gingerbread and I didn’t always love plain, black coffee. I guess that’s one of the nice things about being a grown up now- appreciating grown up foods. I sure do miss those 2 week Christmas breaks though. Ahh… the joys entering the”big kid” world.  ;)

It’s hard to believe Christmas is this Sunday. Is all your baking and shopping done?

Gingerbread Biscotti

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each egg. Gradually add in the molasses. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered ginger. Add to wet ingredients and then stir in the fresh ginger and crystallized ginger.

Form two logs of dough (each log should be about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide) on a lined sheet tray. Bake logs for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully slice logs into biscotti and then turn each biscotti over on it’s side and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

I’ve mentioned my Aunt Khaki several times before. She is the youngest of my mother’s siblings and when it comes to food and exercise, she is one of my main role models. Unfortunately, Khaki lives all the way out in Santa Monica so we don’t get to bake together very much. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s where snail mail comes in and saves the day.

We’re able to have a long distance baking relationship and I was thrilled to see a glorious box of heaven on our kitchen when I got home from work the other day. Khaki raised the bar once again with her creations. She made a salty maple pecan fudge, pistachio nougat, rum raisin chocolate, and four different types of buttery sugary cookies.

There were four different flavors of cookies and Khaki color-coded the cookie bags with a specific color of ribbon and I was supposed to guess the ingredients (isn’t that a cute idea!?). The jury is still out on a few, but there was definitely basil, lavendar, lemon, and vanilla bean.

The cookies were perfectly crispy and buttery and apparently very easy to make. As a result, I wanted to share one of the  recipes, the vanilla bean, with all of you. You can skip out on the vanilla bean if you want, but I think using it takes the cookie to the next level.

Whelp… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send my chunk-inducing box of sweets out west. Look for more of Aunt Khaki’s creations in the next months. I want to start including more of her recipes on LST because she has so many delicious and creative ideas. Thanks so much, Aunt Khaki!

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
To make the vanilla sugar, place the two cups of sugar in resealable container. Slice the vanilla beans down the middle and scrape out the bean into the sugar. Place the leftover bean in the sugar as well. Let sit for a day.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 1 ½-inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Roll the log in the remaining vanilla sugar. Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick slices and place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Scotcheroos and a See’s Candy Giveaway!

While I love trying new Christmas recipes each year, there’s something really comforting about old favorites. Scotcheroos are one of Robert’s and my most beloved treats. Scotcheroos, in case you aren’t familiar, are basically Rice Krispie treats with peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate chips, but without the marshmallows (okay so basically the Rice Krispies cereal is the only common demoninator ;)). Scotcheroos are simple to make and they’re delicious.  Best of all, the recipe can easily be doubled (or even tripled) if you’re looking to make a big batch.

These bars aren’t going to blow anyone away with their beauty or complexity, but there are never any leftovers. There’s something very addicting about these simple treats; and sometimes, the simplest stuff is the best.

See’s Candy Giveaway

Speaking of old favorites, See’s Candy has long been my family’s chocolate store of choice ever since my Aunt Khaki got us all hooked a long time ago.  Based out of Los Angeles, this wonderful candy has been making regular appearances in my stocking over the years; and now, I want it to make its way into your house for the holidays.

If you win, you can choose from a pack of chocolate-covered marshmallow trees or an assorted snowman box of See’s butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, and cafe latte Lollypops. Either of these will make great additions under the tree, in a stocking, or in your nightstand drawer. ;)

 

Here’s how to enter:

*Update- the winner is Connie with comment #15!!

1) Leave a comment telling me about your most treasured holiday treat

and/or

2) Follow Lolly’s Sweet Treats on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you do so

This giveaway will be open until Friday (December 16th) at 10pm. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator and notified by Saturday morning. Good luck!

Full Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly :)

Scotcheroos

Printable version

Yield: 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light corn syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (I used Nestle)

Directions

Place corn syrup and sugar into large saucepan or Dutch Oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place chocolate and butterscotch chips together in a microwave-safe bowl. Place in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.Enjoy!

Source: Kellog’s Rice Krispies

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Awww yeah… it’s Christmas cookie time. This week my group of girlfriends had a cookie swap at our book club. We started this book club this past summer and while I do really enjoy reading and discussing the books (ok- I may have not read all of the book this time), the best part is the social aspect. It’s even better when there are lots of cookies involved. :)

The holiday treats included toffee cookie bars, pistachio cranberry biscotti, soft caramel-filled cookies, peppermint meringues, sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, brown sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms… OMG- the list goes on and on. All the cookies were delicious, but I think my favorite is/was Chelsea’s toffee cookie bars. I am already committing to a long workout tomorrow morning as a result. ;)

As for my contribution, I brought these chocolate mint sandwich cookies. I found the recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cookies book a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. A mint chocolate ganache is sandwiched between two chocolate sugar cookies and then dipped in chocolate. It takes a little bit more time than a traditional cookie, but I think the end result was  a success. The only thing I was slightly disappointed with is that the cookie part wasn’t as crunchy as I’d hoped.  It’s kind of similar to a Oreo, Thin Mint, fudge combo- as described by some of my girlfriends.

The recipe is easily doubled and you can make the sugar cookie dough ahead of time if desired. If you like the mint and chocolate combination, I recommend adding these babies to your holiday cookie tray.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for work surface

For the Ganache

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate,  chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

For the Glaze

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped

Directions

Whisk together cocoa powder and flour in a bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg until well blended. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer dough to a work surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies using a 2-inch star (or round) cookie cutter; space 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining scraps of dough. Bake cookies until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the ganache, bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly until chocolate is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Let cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Spoon 1 teaspoon ganache onto the bottom of 1 cookie; gently spread out the ganache over the cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly.

Dip one flat side of each sandwich into melted chocolate to coat; gently shake off excess. Place sandwiches, chocolate sides up, on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Top with crushed candy canes, if desired. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart