After a marvelous Thanksgiving, after all the cooking and feasting and a long holiday weekend spent eating leftover turkey and enjoying time with family and watching episodes of Top Gear (have you seen this show?!)–after all of that goodness, I sort of fell down the rabbit hole. I was taken unceremoniously down by a stomach virus, and when I finally emerged, pale and grubby, from that tunnel today, Hey presto! Here we are on the other side of the looking glass and it is December all of a sudden!
So let’s move on, shall we? It’s time for advent candles and dreaming up perfect presents and watching Christmas movies. Maybe it’s time for your annual cookie exchange, too. Time to bring treats to the office. Possibly even time to pack up tins of goodies and mail them off to dear ones far away.
And these cookies are just the thing. It’s hard to explain how perfect they really are, but I’ll try. Shortbread is good, right? And so are dark and white chocolate. But somehow, when the rich, yielding texture of the shortbread and the firm, smooth layers of chocolate come together, they become a sensual delight. Add the crunchy little shards of candy cane and you’ve got a bit of holiday zing in every bite.
Not to mention how pretty they are. They have candy canes on them!
I do recommend using thin candy canes for this recipe, rather than trying to break up really thick ones or round peppermint candies. I tried the round candies initially and found them disconcertingly sturdy. I eventually had to get a framing hammer out of the garage to bust them up, after trying several less extreme, more culinary approaches without success.
Chocolate Peppermint Bark Shortbread Cookies
(adapted from Cookin Canuck)
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 8 oz dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup finely chopped candy canes (about 3 ounces)
- 4 oz. white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment, letting it hang over the sides of the pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside. With mixer, beat butter until creamy, about two minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue to beat for an additional 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract, milk, and egg yolk. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually beat in the flour mixture, until just combined. Do not overmix.
Scatter the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and gently press it, with slightly moistened fingers, to form a flat layer. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake the cookie layer until golden brown and slightly puffed, and edges are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25-30 minutes. Place on a cookie rack and immediately sprinkle dark chocolate chips over the cookie layer. Let the chocolate sit for about three minutes. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate into an even layer over the surface of the cookies. Immediately sprinkle crushed candy canes over the chocolate layer.
Place white chocolate chips in a medium metal bowl set over a simmering pot of water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in small amount of cream, if needed to achieve thin enough consistency. Using a fork, flick the white chocolate over the peppermint candies. Chill for approximately 30 minutes.
Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift the cookies out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cookies into squares. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for one week.